By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
If there was any doubt that the feds are targeting Coronado, it was dispelled just a few weeks ago, when he faced yet more charges, this time for possessing eagle feathers, prohibited under the Migratory Bird Treaty and the Bald Eagle and Golden Eagle Protection Act. Eagle feathers are used in Native American religious ceremonies. Coronado had refused to register as a tribal member for political reasons, which increases his vulnerability to prosecution.
In December, Coronado was found guilty in federal court on all the charges stemming from the hunt sabotage outside Tucson, and this week, U.S. District Judge David Bury said he wanted to send a message that if you use “force and violence in civil disobedience, you are going to be punished for it; it’s anarchy.” In addition to eight months of prison time, Coronado must pay restitution and is prohibited from associating with activists involved with the ALF, Earth First! and the ELF. At the end of August, his lawyers will be making a motion to dismiss the charges related to his San Diego lecture on the basis of freedom of speech. If they don’t succeed, Coronado could face 20 years in prison.
AS HE FACES YEARS OF SEPARATION from his son and his partner, Coronado seems to be in an argument with himself about whether it was all worth it. His son “wants me around to go to the museum,” he says. “He remembers when I was going to the mountains to protect the kitties. But he wants me to find another way.
“Prison changed me,” he says. “But not as much as it should have, in retrospect. Every time I go to court, there is very little said about Sabino Canyon. It’s all about my criminal history.”
These days, Coronado talks about acting with compassion and love, says that a violent political action will merely beget more violence. “We should never be against rescuing innocent victims,” he says. “But any aggressive action on our part is too easily characterized as terrorism.”
When Coronado talks about the mountain lions of Sabino Canyon, he gets feisty for the first time, as if breaking out of depression.
“I don’t wish I hadn’t done it,” he says, referring to the hunt sabotage. “Too much of my spirit and the spirit of the wild would have died. The fact that they could go into this protected area, a place where the natural world is supposed to be whole, and kill the largest predator in the desert . . . Good old boys can kill lions everywhere else but not here, not in Sabino Canyon. It was one of those times when you had to take a stand. You’re gonna have to make some personal sacrifices. That’s part of American history.”
Perhaps it’s merely a painful irony and not a statement about America. But it must mean something when an informer’s son gets to grow up with his dad, while the son of a man who tried to stop violence against animals will be sending letters and drawings to prison.
“I’ve felt like Don Quixote,” Coronado says. “I’ve been banned from going to meetings. The same effect I had burning down a building I had by walking into a Game and Fish meeting, being who I am, having done what I did.
“I’ve given 20 years of my life,” he says. “I’m intimidated. I’m scared. I’ll quit. I’m probably going to move to the Midwest and just focus on raising a family. They’ve won.”?