Political Prisoner-Captive Arrow Still Flies True the InnerView with Tre Arrow by Miriam Green
People’s Choice Best Local Political Activist (Willamette Week’s “Best of Portland” polls 2002, 2004), Tre Arrow fights extradition from a jail cell at the North Fraser Pre-Trial Centre near Vancouver, B.C. The following interview was conducted February 18, 2005.
MG: Tre, I know you went on a hunger strike in prison. Could you talk about that, and the resolution?
TA: Yeah, I was arrested on March 13, 2004. For the next 44 days, I was on a hunger strike, and consumed solely water. I did it for a few key reasons. Mostly, it was a political protest, to call attention to the lack of justice within the U.S. judicial system, and how the FBI is targeting me, and how they’ve targeted countless others who have chosen to dissent.
The second reason was that I didn’t want to consume the toxic stuff they were serving, the food and the chlorinated water. The first few days I didn’t even drink any water. Then they made me start drinking, but I was able to boil the water and get rid of the chlorine and stuff.
The third and most important reason was to call attention to the unnecessary obscene suffering of the planet. Having been involved with Food Not Bombs and other groups that help reclaim food before it’s tossed, and serve it to people that need it—it’s really saddening, to see how much food is wasted while millions of people are starving. It was a move of solidarity for all those that are suffering.
On April 27th, 45 days from the initial incarceration, I started to eat again. I’ve been eating exclusively a vegan raw food diet for many moons. It’s not a question of choice, it’s part of my spiritual path, my lifestyle. And after a certain amount of time, it becomes an imperative situation, a medical condition. A raw food diet is an optimally healthful diet, and over time, it acts as a purification of the body. To eat cooked food, after eating raw food for a long time, would be like going on a 10-day fast and then eating 10 donuts. It’s literally poison.
So, I was adamant that I can consume only raw food, and please honor my diet. The administration said, ‘there’s two diets here, the cooked dead animal diet and the cooked vegetarian diet, and we’ll give you the vegetarian diet.’ I told them that was not even close to sufficient, that not only do I not eat anything cooked, I don’t eat anything from any parts of animals. They didn’t care. They were very concerned that if they made an exception for one person, everybody would want their own specific diet.
So they kept giving me cooked, dead food. Although raw foods are available in the kitchen at all times, only specific meals and days do we receive fresh food.
I was forced to trade my cooked meals with other inmates, who would give me their raw food that came only occasionally.
By August I was down to about 80 pounds. When I was arrested, I was about 150. I couldn’t gain any weight after the fast, because what little food I was getting was basically water and some nutrients, but no substantial quantity of fat or protein.
On top of that, rules here prohibit inmates from keeping fresh food. You can order processed food through the canteen, and keep that in your cell. But, heaven forbid, anything fresh cannot be stored in your cell.
So a week would go by, and I would get hardly any food. Then at one meal, we’d get a piece of fruit and veggie sticks, and everyone I had done meal trades with would give me theirs, and I’d end up with a big pile of veggie sticks and fruit. I was trying to keep some, so I could have something to eat every day.
The whole food issue culminated one of those days I received a bunch of fruit and veggie sticks at lunch. They stormed my cell and threw me in the hole, the most restricted punishment-type of setting, deeming I had too much food.
My family was outraged, they were livid. I was probably about 86 pounds. Then I was put under medical observation, and a couple days later they sent me to the hospital. I was 80, 81 pounds, at my lowest.
In the hospital, they allowed my family and some of my amazing support group, too—at that time, figs were my favorite food, they were ripe on the trees [laughing], and they went around picking figs and brought ’em to the hospital. They made me amazing food with awesome guacamole, filled with fat —and nuts and seeds for protein and lots of fruits and veggies. The doctors and nurses were supportive, and I was able to get raw food every meal.
I was in the hospital for three weeks. I was very very close to death. Staff people said I looked worse than pictures they’d seen of concentration camp victims from Nazi Germany. It was a pretty intense time.
My doctor wouldn’t release me until she was assured that I was gonna get the food I needed. Since then, I’ve been receiving raw food every meal. It took many many moons, and me sticking to my convictions. I’m now back up to my ideal weight, around 145, and I’ve been renourishing my body and healing.
MG: Good! Tre, when the media reported that you’d been arrested, they had this whole blitz about you taking some bolt cutters. Why in the world did you risk your freedom over bolt cutters?
TA: I know. It’s not an easy answer. On a subconscious level, I wanted it to be over. As much as I didn’t want to be locked up, it was—grueling, to be in hiding and disconnect myself 100 percent from everyone I had known. I wanted all the grief and stress of living underground to end.
MG: How long were you on the run?
TA: Almost two years. The indictments came down August 2002, and I left the States shortly after that. Knowing how the FBI persecutes and frames activists that stand in the way of the corporate agenda and government policy, I felt this was another part of their repertoire. I was arrested in March 2004, so I was on the run—19, 20 months.
MG: Did you get advance notice of the indictments?
TA: I was on the computer regularly. Someone sent me an e-mail, ‘uh, yo, these indictments came down, check it out.’ And I was like, Oh, wow! That’s interesting. Maybe it’s time to see Canada. [Laughs.]
MG: How did you survive?
TA: Well, I’m pretty resourceful. I’ve lived a long time in a frugal fashion. So to not have income or anyone to stay with, there are ways around that. It’s a very disconcerting reality that our culture wastes so much. I can easily live off the waste of our culture, food and clothing-wise. Even before I was on the run, I engaged in a barter system to help circumvent dependency on money.
I talked to the produce manager at one store, said ‘can I grab some of the produce that’s gonna be tossed, before it’s tossed?’ And he’s like, ‘Sure.’ I had an instant hook-up of raw food. I’m used to living with the trees and nature, so I had enough—I built a little teepee in the woods. I had a sleeping bag. And clothing was available from churches and nonprofit organizations.
But it was cold, and I wasn’t prepared. When I arrived, it was summer, and I wanted to travel. I wanted to be somewhere warmer for the winter, but I ended up trapped in Nova Scotia. I realized there’s no way I’m gonna get out of Canada, I might as well try to make the most of it. It was the most miserable winter of my life. I was living outside in negative 30 degree weather. My sleeping bag was warm, but not that warm.
MG: You had the shoplifting charge in Canada. What was the outcome?
TA: I was arrested on March 13, 2004, for shoplifting. I plead guilty in September, 2004. Yes, I’ve made some mistakes, and taking those bolt cutters without paying for them was one. The sentencing amounted to a day, time served. At that point I had already been locked up for six months. Two of the four charges against me were dropped, one of which was an assault charge. I didn’t assault the person, I don’t engage in violence, and the assault charge was dropped.
MG: Tre, did you have any involvement in the log truck and cement mixer incidents?
TA: I am very emphatically declaring my innocence to both of these incidents. I had no involvement with either of the arsons. The last thing I would do would be to burn diesel fuel and plastic, burn tires that emit amazing amounts of horrendous toxins. Anybody that knows me, knows that I would never burn anything.
MG: What are your greatest hope, fear, and inspiration?
TA: I have manifesting intentions for every living thing. I pray we can all be free, whether we’re living in a cage made to keep us locked up, or whether we’re living in a cage constructed by the patriarchy and the obsessive consumeristic material world that we are so embedded in. The mad pace of working jobs that people don’t like, purchasing things and living a certain way because society tells them they should or they think they have to. Another thing I pray for is that awareness may rise to a point where all life is respected. I don’t foresee Earth Mother and all the nonhuman creatures being able to take much more of this abuse.
Being able to connect to the natural world has been amazing. We can transcend all of this physical matter, all of these walls and fences. Our spirit, mind, heart, soul and our words, can’t be stopped. They can’t be caged or suppressed. I do my best to live consciously, lovingly, and respect all living things. Knowing that I’m doing the best I can, then even if it means I’m locked up for what I’ve said and the actions I’ve taken to oppose the destruction of the environment, by living in tree sits and living on the ledge and by challenging the status quo, speaking out about what the government and corporations are doing and the lies they are engaged in, I know that the truth will prevail. That doesn’t necessarily mean a not guilty verdict. Even when innocent people are locked up, the higher powers know what’s up. [Laughs.] I’m grateful for the awareness that I have been given. No matter how hard it is for me in here, it’s harder for nonhuman animals and folks all over the world, that are suffering so horribly, completely unnecessarily. I have shelter. I have raw food, and warmth. That’s more than many people have. There’s people living on the streets in Canada that are freezing to death. That is a crime, a tragedy, that our culture is such, that we let people die. We don’t have to live this way. We can live in harmony, without money, we can live consciously and without all these forms of oppression.
I’ve been assaulted in here, and subjected to quite a bit of intense harassment. It’s been very challenging. I try my best to not focus on fear, and if I do feel fear, try to honor it and release the negative thoughts and feelings through deep breathing, yoga and chi gong, to stay in a place of love and strength and peace, even though it’s very difficult. I try to be loving and forgiving and respectful to everyone and everything, no matter how people treat me. I realize that nothing is personal. If someone takes their fist and smashes it into my face, I know it’s that I am creating some kind of mirror for this person and they don’t like what they see, but instead of addressing it within themselves, they lash out. That’s what a lot of people do in our culture, right?
I think it’s really important for people to step back and look at our society, a culture literally built around fear. It’s a total illusion—there’s the three—illusion, delusion and confusion. They’re all intertwined and very profound, and they’re embedded in just about everyone’s subconscious. This whole element of fear has been pumped into—everywhere you turn, everything you hear. I feel that it’s very deliberate, because if people are living in fear—they’re much easier to control. To counteract the illusion of fear, people are told, ‘just keep consuming, keep working, and everything will be fine.’
People don’t want to know about the environment, about all the nonhuman animals that are being slaughtered, about corruption within the government, ’cause even if they do care, they don’t have enough time and energy to do anything about it—because they’re exhausted by the maddening pace of consumption and work and the need to pay the bills.
Some of the inspiring and amazing things have been the letters, visits from people—overwhelming, unconditional, love and support, from all over the world—people I have never even met, that know about my case, know I’m innocent, and support me, and support the people that support me. Encouraging words, and powerful, spiritual things that people have sent me. Being able to be tapped into the spirit world even though I’m in a cage—being able to see Grandfather Sun and Grandmother Moon and get their rays on me, being able to see in my little spider friend that’s hanging outside my window [laughing], the connection to the natural world.
MG: Are you treated as a political prisoner, are you treated differently by staff and by personnel—do they know about your case?
TA: I’m treated like scum of the earth, like every other inmate here. They don’t care if I’m innocent or guilty. They don’t regard me as a political prisoner.
There are people here, that are held not because they have any charges, but because our country has deemed them ‘illegal,’ if they’re from a different country, and they don’t have the proper paperwork. They lock ’em in a cage, ’cause heaven forbid they might be roaming around without proper paperwork. The whole concept of borders and ‘this is my land, this is your land,’ to me is absolutely asinine and such a travesty, a violation of human rights, ’cause we’re all human, and it doesn’t matter what color or nationality we are, what spiritual or religious paths we follow. That’s something I pray for as well, a day when there aren’t boundaries.
I’m innocent of these charges. I have a long history of engaging in nonviolent civil disobedience. I am not a criminal. I have never been locked up before. It’s a violation of the Immigration Act, let alone human rights policies that I am locked up with some really serious criminals. As an activist, a political prisoner, as someone who doesn’t have any previous record except a few minor misdemeanors—I should not be locked up with some of the most dangerous people in Canada.
MG: What’s the time frame with the extradition process?
TA: We’ve been trying to get my release on bail with house arrest, while I’m awaiting the extradition process. The judge requires someone from within B.C. to be a surety person, and either present at least $300,000 cash, in the form of a bond, or a house or property of that value put up as surety. The judge won’t allow the money to come from a bunch of sources, which is what we offered—the whole idea is that this person is putting up enough of a risk that I’m not gonna run.
Unless the U.S. is asking the death penalty, it’s really hard to beat extradition and be granted political asylum in Canada. The Supreme Court won’t decide whether I’m guilty or not. They’ll only look at if there’s enough evidence to go to trial. If the judge decides I should be surrendered for extradition, that will begin the appeal process, which could take two or three years. My extradition hearing is set to start June 27th.
MG: Two or three years, staying in jail in Canada, while the appeal is going on?
TA: In jail or on house arrest, while the appeal process is going on, that’s right.
MG: Tre, what do you see yourself doing when you are released finally?
TA: Well, I often say that—the activism—I didn’t really choose this. It chose me, you know? I do my best to follow my heart and engage in actions that I feel are going to offset some of the oppression and injustices, like living in the trees at Eagle Creek, living on the ledge and being involved with all the great people and organizations that helped to finally get that sale canceled. I don’t ever intend to stop doing these things, even though it’s very challenging physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Even if I’m gonna continue to be targeted by the powers that be, I’m not living in fear, and I’m not gonna be deterred. I’m gonna continue to be conscious and respectful to every living thing.
I foresee myself always doing some form of activism, whether it’s for nonhuman animals or for humans or the planet. I definitely am gonna engage in more prisoner support organizations. And continuing to get my music out there, and engage in the arts. The music is a hugely integral part of my soul.
I think this whole world would be such a different place if people spent more time doing things that brought them joy, and accessing their creativity, rather than working for the man, and doing things they feel they have to do, rather than what they truly desire to do. I will be involved in at least one book, about all that I’ve been through, and what we can all do to help make this world a more healthy, loving, peaceful place. And I’m gonna do lots of [laughing] kissing the ground, swimming in pure water, climbing up fig trees and getting all the fresh food I can.
MG: How can people help you?
TA: Thank you for asking. I want to emphasize that just the smallest thing someone does, helps keep me strong and feeling as optimistic as possible. People can help by making a donation, any amount is appreciated, writing letters, getting on the telephone and passing on via e-mail my website, www.trearrow.org, and my story. The more people that know about this, the greater the chances are that I can get released on bail. Spreading the word creates a higher level of consciousness. If that means just someone new is thinking about me, sending me a prayer, some positive intentions—it has monumental beneficial impact. People that want to make a visit or write, there’s information on my website. And finding someone on a surety front, and competent successful legal counsel, could help as well. I have lawyers working on extradition defense, immigration, and defense of the charges in the U.S., but there’s room for more folks to jump on board.
MG: Tre, thank you for talking to me.
TA: Thank you Miriam, for the opportunity to get the word out. It’s through the graciousness of all the beautiful people that I can make these calls, and I’m very grateful. I wish all the folk out there the best. I’d like to say, in closing, a saying that I feel is important for us to embrace: In every deliberation we must consider the next seven generations, not just of humans, but of all life. If more folks took that into consideration, this world would be transformed into a more healthy, loving, respectful planet. We all have that power to take responsibility. Another saying, by Chief Seattle, is that we humans did not create this web of life, we are but one thread within it. And whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.
The more that we can live in harmony with the only planet that we have, then the healthier and happier everyone will be, everyone and everything.
Many blessings to you all out there, Namaste.
Tre Arrow is an environmental/political activist dedicated to raising awareness of the ongoing destruction of the natural world and the suffering of its inhabitants as a result of corporate greed and governmental policies.
Miriam Green is a mortgage loan specialist dedicated to helping people realize their dreams of home ownership, lowering monthly payments, financing investment properties, and more. Miriam offers references from happy clients, and donates $100 from the proceeds of your loan to your favorite green nonprofit. 503-348-2394, 360-687-4666, [email protected]
To send a message to Tre: [email protected], 1-250-818-6305, or Tre Arrow, CS# 05850722, North Fraser Pretrial Centre, 1451 Kingsway Ave., Port Coquitlam, BC V3C 1S2 Canada. See www.trearrow.org for regulations concerning mail. Mail will not be given to Tre if there is no return address on the envelope.
Contributions to Tre’s defense: Tre Arrow Legal Defense Fund, P.O. Box 229, Roberts Creek, BC. V0N 2W0, or 520 SW Sixth Avenue, #1010, Portland, OR 97204
Thank you for your support!