Rodney Adam Coronado is a Native American eco-anarchist and animal rights activist who has been convicted of arson, conspiracy and other crimes in connection with his activism. He is an advocate and former activist for the Animal Liberation Front and a spokesperson for the Earth Liberation Front. He is also a former crew member of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and was a member of the editorial collective of the Earth First! Journal.
A former proponent of the use of direct action to end what he sees as cruelty to animals and destruction of the environment, Coronado was jailed in 1995 in connection with an arson attack on research facilities at Michigan State University. The incident, which caused $125,000 worth of damage and destroyed 32 years of research data, was part of the Animal Liberation Front's "Operation Bite Back," a series of attacks on animal-testing and fur facilities in the United States during the 1990s. 
In 2006, while imprisoned for felony conspiracy and awaiting trial on further charges, Coronado expressed a change in his personal philosophy inspired by fatherhood. In an open letter, he wrote, "Don't ask me how to burn down a building. Ask me how to grow watermelons or how to explain nature to a child," explaining that he wants "not [to] be remembered as a man of destruction but a human believer in peace and love for all."
Coronado is of Yaqui heritage and lives in Tucson, Arizona. He has a long history of activism. In 1985, at the age of 19, he joined the crew of the conservation ship, Sea Shepherd, and on November 9, 1986, he and another activist, David Howitt, scuttled two ships, the Hvalur 6 and Hvalur 7, accounting for half of Iceland's whaling fleet, which was whaling in contravention of the International Whaling Commission moratoriumTemplate:Fact. Before scuttling the ships, Coronado and Howitt caused $2 million worth of damage to the Icelandic whaling station.
In 1995, Coronado was convicted and sentenced to 57 months in prison in connection with the February 28, 1992 arson attack on research facilities at Michigan State University (MSU), which caused $125,000 worth of damage. He was also involved in an Animal Liberation Front (ALF) action, releasing mink from a nearby MSU mink research farm, wrecking equipment and opening animals' cages. As a condition of his sentence, Coronado was ordered to pay MSU $2 million in restitution.
Indictments and convictionsEdit
Earth First! Lion huntEdit
On December 2, 2004, Coronado was indicted on three charges related to Earth First! hunt saboteur actions to disrupt a hunt of mountain lions in Sabino Canyon, near Tucson by dismantling a lion trap and spreading mountain lion urine.
On December 13, 2005, he and co-defendant Matthew Crozier, 33, were found guilty of felony conspiracy to interfere with or injure a government official, misdemeanor interference with or injury to a forest officer, and misdemeanor depredation (theft, destruction, or the attempt to do so) of government property. Coronado was sentenced on August 6, 2006 to eight months in prison, three years supervised probation, and fined $100. Crozier was sentenced to 100 hours community service, three years probation, and a $1,000 fine.
Demonstrating an incendiary deviceEdit
- Related article: Green Scare defendants
In February 2006, Coronado was arrested on a felony charge of demonstrating the use of an incendiary device at a public gathering in the Hillcrest neighborhood of San Diego. The indictment indirectly relates to an August 1, 2003 fire in San Diego that destroyed an apartment complex causing an estimated $50 million worth of damage. A banner was found at the scene inscribed with the initials of the ELF. Coronado, a self-described "unofficial ELF spokesman," gave a talk on militant environmental activism in San Diego 15 hours later, where he explained how to make incendiary devices. He denies any role in the incident, and investigators do not consider him a suspect in starting the fire.
Coronado's arrest was associated with the FBI's Operation Backfire, a sweep of grand jury indictments against alleged ALF and ELF members, termed the "Green Scare" by activists. Some alternative media sources say Coronado was simply exercising his constitutional right to freedom of speech when he "responsed to a question from an audience member ... and explained how he had constructed a non-explosive, incendiary device out of a plastic jug filled with gasoline to commit a past arson for which he had long since been sentenced and done his time."
In September 2006, Coronado sent an open letter to supporters from his prison cell in Florence, Arizona, before his release on March 23, 2007. In the letter, he announced his commitment to social change through non-destructive means. Citing his desire to raise his young son without teaching him that "violence is a necessary evil", Coronado expressed hope that others in the earth and animal liberation movements would consider more "peaceful" methods:
In 2007, Coronado stood trial in San Diego on charges related to his speech in 2003 in Hillcrest. After two days of deliberations, the jury remained deadlocked, and on September 19, 2007, Judge Jeffrey Miller declared a mistrial. Coronado subsequently entered a guilty plea, accepting a deal for a one year prison term, as a result of which he was sentenced in March 2008 to one year and one day. Regarding his guilty plea, he said in an open e-mail on his website:
- Earth Liberation Prisoners Support Network (ELPSN)
- Deep ecology
- Animal testing
- GANDALF trial
- "Activists Uncaged" by Steve Eder, The State News, Michigan State University, April 27, 2004, retrieved November 6, 2005
- "Animal rights duo guilty in Sabino case" by Tom Beal, Arizona Daily Star, December 14, 2005, retrieved December 20, 2005
- "Prof reflects on past ties to eco-underworld", The State News, Michigan State University, April 20, 2004
- "Living the Truth: an Interview with Rod Coronado" by Sprig, Earth First! Journal, March-April 2003
- "Ecoterrorism: Extremism in the Animal Rights and Environmentalist Movements", Anti-Defamation League
- "The Threat of Eco-Terrorism", Testimony of James F. Jarboe, Domestic Terrorism Section Chief, Counterterrorism Division, FBI Before the House Resources Committee, Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health, February 12, 2002, retrieved January 17, 2006
- SupportRod.org, a website set up by Coronado's supporters following his February 2006 arrest.
- Rod Coronado: A Voice for Liberation, 5-minute video (via YouTube)
- Scarce, Rik. Eco-Warriors (2006) (ISBN 1-59874-028-8)
- Living the Truth: An Interview with Rod Coronado
- Live interview with Rod Coronado on Animal Voices Radio
- Animal Liberation Front
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