William C. Rodgers

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For other people called Bill or William Rodgers, see Bill Rodgers (disambiguation).

William C. Rodgers (also known as Bill Rodgers and Avalon) (died December 21, 2005), was a environmental activist, animal rights activist and a co-proprietor of the Catalyst Infoshop in Prescott, Arizona, USA. He was one of six environmental activists arrested December 7, 2005 as part of the FBI's Operation Backfire. His charge was one count of arson for a June, 1998 fire set by the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) at the National Wildlife Research Center in Olympia, Washington. He was found dead in his jail cell on December 21, 2005. According to police, Rodgers committed suicide using a plastic bag.[1]


Before ELF[edit]

Rodgers first adopted deep ecology style thinking and engaged in Earth First! activism at Mt. Graham telescope project protests of the early 1990s in Arizona. He lived out of his Toyota 4x4 as he traveled North America's wild lands and became involved in many Earth First demonstrations of that time. Rogers was one of the few long-term activists whom camped out in snow caves in central Idaho's deepest wilderness during the Cove/Mallard timber sale in the winter of 1994/1995.[2]

His experiences and exposure in some of the last true wild lands of this planet must have further radicalized Avalon beyond the civil disobedience activism of Earth First. EF style civil disobedience was at the time was under consideration as possible terrorism by the US Congress in hearings of select subcommittees.[3] 'Avalon was a long term Earth First activist, one of the occupation activists of the Cover/Mallard Idaho protests for years and was one of 4 whom constantly camped out in snow-caves monitoring the only logging of Noble Road in the winter of January to March 1995 in 12-foot deep snow and sub-zero temps. After witnessing the destruction of "America's Amazon Jungle" where for hundreds of miles around was wild untouched mountainous forests, 'Avalon became disenfranchised with mere civil-disobedience tactics and became radicalized. [4][better source needed][5] Avalon briefly secluded himself in spring of 1995 only to reappear at the Earth First 11-month-long occupation of the Warner Creek timber sale or 'Free Cascadia' in Oregon. During these times Avalon always spoke of being a witness for the defenseless and was a peaceful presence.

While participating in the occupation of Warner Creek Oregon, Rogers first met Jacob Ferguson aka "Donut", the man who years later turned FBI informant against this cell of Earth Liberation Front activists, to avoid prison time for heroin possession.[6] Ironically, Rodgers openly debated with other radical environmentalists against the effectiveness of targeted property destruction operations, during the mid-90's.

ELF and later[edit]

Between 1996 and 2001 the ELF cell Rogers was involved is alleged to have started fifteen fires across the West.[7]

Rodgers wrote an article for the Earth First Journal about how drug abuse was sapping the will & strength of the environmental movement as activists got depressed and sought solace from the emotional pain by smoking marijuana or drinking heavily.[citation needed]

After an action involving burning SUVs in March 2001, the Police become suspicious of ELF cell member Ferguson. Rogers, worried of getting caught and tired of infighting, moved to Prescott, Arizona.

In 2004, Rogers co-founded the Catalyst Infoshop with Katie Rose Nelson.[7]

Arrest and Death[edit]

Rodgers with arrested in an FBI raid on December 7, 2005 at the Catalyst Infoshop. The FBI were working on information provided by Ferguson, an informer from the same ELF cell as Rodgers.[7]

Rodgers wrote a suicide note[8] which he mailed to a number of his friends:

To my friends and supporters to help them make sense of all these events that have happened so quickly: Certain human cultures have been waging war against the Earth for millennia. I chose to fight on the side of bears, mountain lions, skunks, bats, saguaros, cliff rose and all things wild. I am just the most recent casualty in that war. But tonight I have made a jail break—I am returning home, to the Earth, to the place of my origins. Bill, 12/21/05 (the winter solstice.)

Government claims[edit]

The FBI has claimed that Rodgers was a criminal "mastermind" and the anonymous author of Setting Fire with Electrical Timers, an Earth Liberation Front Guide,[9] which explained in detail how to create an incendiary device known as a "cat's cradle". Authorities said that once the guide was published they no longer were able to tell with certainty when the ELF cell connected to Rodgers was responsible for an arson.

Continuing influence[edit]

Rodgers has had a continuing impact on various anarchist and radical environmentalist movements. A number of acts have been dedicated to his memory. Among these have been the removal of 28 beagle puppies from the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at the Independent University of Madrid[10] and the burning of a partially constructed development in Guelph, Ontario, Canada.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Remembering Bill Rodgers: Long Live Avalon!". Slingshot. Retrieved 2006-07-09. [dead link]
  2. ^ Tree Huggers: Victory, Defeat & Renewal in the Northwest Ancient Forest Campaign. author Kathie Durbin. 1996 p269-271,288.
  3. ^ Acts of ecoterrorism by radical environmental organizations: hearing before the Subcommittee on Crime of the Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives, One Hundred Fifth Congress, second session, June 9, 1998
  4. ^ William C. Rodgers
  5. ^ http://www.targetofopportunity.com/elf.htm
  6. ^ Associated Press 05/24/2007 by Jeff Barnard
  7. ^ a b c GRIGORIADIS, VANESSA. "The Rise and Fall of the Eco-Radical Underground". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 3 May 2015. 
  8. ^ Operation Backfire: The Feds Make a Monstrous Move, Green Anarchy, 24 June 2006.
  9. ^ Prosecutors portray close-knit arson team, The Seattle Times, 21 January 2006.
  10. ^ 28 beagles rescued by ALF, Bombs and Shields, 12 January 2006.
  11. ^ Anti-Sprawl ELF Action in Memory of William Rodgers, Mostly Water, 10 February 2006.

External links[edit]