Rod Coronado

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Rod Coronado
Rodney Adam Coronado

(1966-07-03) July 3, 1966 (age 54)
Known forAnimal rights, environmental activism, arson

Rodney Adam Coronado (born July 3, 1966) is a Native American (Pascua Yaqui) eco-anarchist and animal rights activist. He is an advocate and former activist for the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) and a spokesperson for the Earth Liberation Front. He was a crew member of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and a member of the editorial collective of the Earth First! Journal.[1] Coronado was jailed in 1995 in connection with an arson attack on research facilities at Michigan State University, which caused $125,000 worth of damage and destroyed 32 years of research data.

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 to be remembered, not as a "man of destruction but [as] a human believer in peace and love for all."[2] He was released on probation in December 2008, but was imprisoned again for four months in August 2010 for accepting a "friend request" on Facebook from an environmental activist, Mike Roselle, which was deemed a violation of his probation.[3]


Coronado is of Yaqui heritage and lives in Tucson, Arizona. He has a long history of activism, particularly through incendiary tactics. In 1985, at the age of 19, he joined the crew of the conservation ship, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society,[4] and on November 9, 1986, he and another activist, David Howitt, sank two ships, the Hvalur 6 and Hvalur 7, accounting for half of Iceland's whaling fleet. The third whaler, Hvalur 8, was not attacked since a watchman was aboard while the fourth was in drydock.[5] Before scuttling the ships, Coronado and Howitt caused $2 million worth of damage to the Icelandic whaling station. Coronado wrote about this action in the animal rights magazine No Compromise.[6]

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.[7] As a condition of his sentence, Coronado was ordered to pay MSU $2 million in restitution.[8] In 1992 the Animal Enterprise Protection Act (revised in 2006 to Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act), enacted largely in response to the MSU attacks, was the first legislation adding sabotage as a defined activity of eco-terrorism.[9]

Indictments and convictions[edit]

Demonstrating an incendiary device[edit]

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.[10] 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.[11] A banner was found at the scene inscribed with the initials of the ELF. Coronado, a self-described "unofficial ELF spokesman,"[12] 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.[13]

His arrest was associated with the FBI's Operation Backfire,[14] a sweep of grand jury indictments against alleged ALF and ELF members,[15] termed the "Green Scare" by activists.[16] Some alternative media sources say Coronado was simply exercising his constitutional right to freedom of speech when "in response to a question from an audience member" he "demonstrated how he had constructed a non-explosive, incendiary device out of a plastic jug filled with gasoline to commit the old arson for which he did his time."[12][17]

In September 2006, Coronado sent an open letter to supporters from his prison cell in Florence, Arizona, before his release on March 23, 2007.[18] 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 my years past I have argued that economic sabotage was an appropriate tactic for our time. Like all strategists I have also been forced to recognize that times have changed and it is now my belief that the movements to protect earth and animals have achieved enough with this strategy to now consider an approach that does not compromise objectives, but increases the likelihood of real social change. Let our opposition who believe in violence carry the burden for its justification, but let those who believe in peace and love practice a way of life that our society sorely needs now more than ever.[19]

Hillcrest trial[edit]

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.[20] Coronado subsequently entered a guilty plea, accepting a deal for a one-year prison term, as a result of which he was sentenced on March 27, 2008 to one year and one day. He was released from El Reno FCI on December 25, 2008.[21] Regarding his guilty plea, he said in an open e-mail on his website:

It has long been my desire to put my past behind me and instead build a sustainable existence for myself, my wife, Chrysta, and two children, Anheles and Maya. This decision to take a plea bargain comes only after much careful consideration and a sincere desire to do what is best for my family. Such unconstitutional assaults on my free speech beg for a continued legal battle and defense, but I am instead choosing to reach a settlement that will allow me to move on with my life rather than face years of litigation that might lead to many years in prison.[22]

Parole violation[edit]

In August 2010, Coronado was sentenced to four months in federal prison in Michigan for violating the terms of his probation. Coronado, who had been on parole since his release from prison, joined the social networking site Facebook. He was sentenced for the use of an unauthorized computer, and for "friending" former Earth First! co-founder Mike Roselle.[23] Coronado entered the Federal Correctional Institution in Milan, Michigan on September 16 with BOP#03895-000.[24] He was released January 14, 2011.[25]

Strong Hearts[edit]

Strong Hearts was a zine written and published by Coronado during his prison sentence for crimes committed on behalf of the Animal Liberation Front.[26]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Satya Interview: Freedom from the Cages
  2. ^ "Message from Rod Coronado in Prison", September 1, 2006.
  3. ^ Radford, Benjamin. "Facebook friending leads to jail", Discovery News, August 27, 2010, accessed October 10, 2010.
  4. ^ About Sea Shepherd Conservation Society
  5. ^ Björnsson, Sveinn Birkir Whaler Down: Looking back at the sinking of the whaleboats in 1986 Archived 2008-11-16 at the Wayback Machine The Reykjavik Grapevine, 3 November 2006. Retrieved 15 May 2010.
  6. ^ Sinking the Icelandic Whaling Fleet by Rod Coronado "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-03-07. Retrieved 2014-01-03.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) Accessed 090801
  7. ^ Activists Uncaged
  8. ^ The Washington Times, 24 March 2002, "Law catches up to ecoterror"
  9. ^ CounterPunch, 19 June 2009, Firebrand: Rod Coronado's Flame War
  10. ^ "Self-proclaimed member of the Earth Liberation Front charged with demonstrating the use of a destructive device", Dept of Justice.
  11. ^ Feds arrest environment radical over S.D. speech
  12. ^ a b "Paul Watson: Assault on the foundations of freedom". The New Zealand Herald. February 27, 2006. Retrieved November 5, 2011.
  13. ^ Environmentalist Charged With Teaching Arson in San Diego - Associated Press, Seth Hettana February 24, 2006
  14. ^ 'Operation Backfire' Nets 11 Archived 2010-08-17 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ FBI Green scare continues more arrests this week
  16. ^ FBI Continues Crackdown on Environmentalists Archived 2006-06-16 at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ The Green Scare and the Government’s "Case" Against Rod Coronado
  18. ^ A Week on the Outside at Support for Rod Coronado
  19. ^ Message from Rod Coronado in Prison
  20. ^ Hoffman, Alison. "Mistrial Declared for Environmentalist", Associated Press, September 19, 2007.
  21. ^ Moran, Greg. "Animal Rights Activist Tells of Regret before Sentencing", San Diego Union-Tribune, March 28, 2008.
  22. ^ Here's the Deal, Support Rod, 15th December 2007.
  23. ^ Frank, Matthew (August 24, 2010). "Facebook "friending" lands activist Rod Coronado in prison". Missoula Independent. Retrieved September 9, 2010.
  24. ^ Wright, Shana. "Rod's Sentence Begins Today". Support Rod Coronado. Archived from the original on July 21, 2011. Retrieved October 11, 2010.
  25. ^ "Federal Bureau of Prisons". Retrieved 17 April 2011.
  26. ^ "Animal Rights Activist Speaks at Tucson, Ariz., Gathering". Tribune Business News. Knight Ridder. November 30, 1999.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]