Dave Foreman: "We Weren't Interested In Creating Outdoor Gymnasiums For Suburban Yuppies"

Dave Foreman took a short sip from a bottle of Pacifico. He wore walking shorts. Foreman stands better than six feet, much taller than he seemed a week before in a baggy blue jail uniform.

It was late Saturday afternoon and Foreman was waiting on the front porch of the old Tucson home which serves as the offices of Earth First! We were only a few hundred yards from the Ramada Inn. Foreman suggested we go there to talk.

Foreman, 42, was happy to be out of jail. His early morning arrest on May 31 by a Federal Bureau of Investigation antiterrorist team had been emotionally jolting, especially to Foreman's wife.

But now he was out. His life was returning to normal. Foreman was free on bond awaiting a trial that might be months away.

Three others arrested at the same time and charged with attempting to cut power lines leading from Palo Verde are being held without bond.

Gerry Spence, the miracle worker of a lawyer from Jackson Hole, Wyoming, has volunteered to defend Foreman without fee. Spence gained fame as the lawyer who won the Karen Silkwood case against Kerr-McGee. He is also the lawyer who successfully sued Penthouse magazine in the famous case of Miss Wyoming.

I had spoken with Spence over the telephone. He assured me that it would be a canard to call him "flamboyant" and then proceeded to give a remarkable imitation of what a flamboyant lawyer talks like on the telephone.

I remembered Spence's voice booming at me through the phone lines as Foreman and I walked to the hotel.

"It just burns my ass," Spence said, "Why do the papers keep calling me flamboyant? Why do I have to pick up the papers and read that Dave Foreman is a saboteur and a radical?"

If you were to rate the volume of Spence's voice from one to ten, he was on the top of the scale.

"Flamboyant? Do they call me that because I wear a hat? "Radical?" Spence said. "I would think it's a radical position for American citizens to stand by, just blinking their eyes, watching while the earth is destroyed.

"The FBI would like you to think these people are wild-eyed terrorists of the Palestinian type. In reality, they are ordinary citizens. They are activists just like the people who conducted the Boston Tea Party."

Already, Foreman had paid the price.
His arrest by the FBI had been an exercise in state-sponsored terror.
Five agents came to his home just after dawn. They pounded on the door and barged through with guns drawn when his wife opened it.

Foreman was asleep and wearing ear plugs to keep out nearby construction sounds. The five agents surrounded his bed and pointed their cocked .357 Magnums at his face.

He thought they were there to execute him. They cuffed his hands behind his back. Then they threw him in a car, barefoot and wearing only a pair of shorts and drove him to the federal building.

One of the agents took his wife aside. The FBI man advised her to desert her husband, to extricate herself from a situation that will grow much worse.

I expected Foreman to be bitter. He wasn't. He was merely determined not to bow before intimidation.

Foreman led me into the hotel bar. We took a table near the wall. The waitress put some chips on the table and then brought iced tea.

"I come from a long line of pinto bean farmers in New Mexico," Foreman began. "They got wiped out by the Depression and moved to Albuquerque at the end of the Dust Bowl."

Foreman's father was in the Air Force and later worked for the Federal Aviation Administration. The family moved around a lot. Foreman went to high school in Blythe, California, where he began hiking in the desert and became an Eagle Scout. He went to college at the University of New Mexico.

"I graduated in 1968 with a major in history and minors in anthropology and biology."

Foreman grinned.
"Hell, I was state chairman of Young Americans for Freedom, a pro-war right-wing group. I still consider myself a real conservative."

Foreman's family tree goes back to prerevolutionary days and his ancestors walked the wilderness trail with Daniel Boone. All the women in his family became members of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

"The people calling themselves conservatives today are really monarchists or tories. If the people who are trying to frame me were around in 1770, they would have been calling Sam Adams, Patrick Henry, and Thomas Jefferson terrorists.

"All that I've been trying to do with Earth First! for the last nine years is the same thing that the people at the Boston Tea Party did. They couldn't get satisfaction from a distant and arrogant government run by King George III. So they threw tea in the harbor. They put their ass on the line."

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Tom Fitzpatrick