The Earth Day Riot, Redux

Proof Sheet, French Pete Creek Demonstration, April 1971

Proof Sheet, French Pete Creek Demonstration, April 1971

WC has written before about his adventures at the Earth Day Riot at the University of Oregon, a demonstration that turned into yet another student riot in April 1971. While sorting through some very old photos recently, WC stumbled across one of the proof sheets from that day. The negatives appear to have been lost over the course of the last 44 years, but one of the proof sheets somehow survived. Some of you had wished that the photos still existed. They do, kind of.

There were student orations at the U of O campus, then a march down 11th Street to the Willamette National Forest headquarters. The primary focus of the demonstration that day was the French Pete Creek valley, the last middle elevation stand of virgin forest on the west slope of the Cascades. The dying big timber industry, desperate for additional forest to clearcut, had persuaded the Forest Service to allow cutting. The legal, political and street protests went on for years.

The lower right hand photo was taken, as WC recalls, a few seconds before the police started swinging their billy clubs. The policeman’s club that broke WC’s camera and nose also exposed the last 4-5 photos. It’s a problem that doesn’t exist in this digital era: film exposed to daylight before it can be developed. The lower right hand photo, WC thinks, was the also used by the Oregon Daily Emerald. The proof sheet with the photo of the cop beating the kid is still missing.

Seven years later, the French Pete Creek drainage was added to the Three Sisters Wilderness Area, and protected from logging. Almost worth a broken nose.



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