Woman who released wild horses from federal pens sentenced to five years for arson

Lady Liberty (c) Bill Frymire
Photo Credit: Lady Liberty (c) Bill Frymire.

On January 27, 2014, Chief U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken sentenced accused “eco-saboteur” Rebecca Rubin to five years in federal prison.

Animal Liberation and Earth Liberation Front participant Rebecca Rubin was on the run for nearly a decade before turning herself in to the FBI in 2012, pleading guilty last October to crimes of arson, attempted arson and conspiracy to commit arson in Oregon, Colorado and California.

The ALF website reports Rubin’s involvement this way:

  • Freeing 400 wild horses from a federal land management corral in Oregon as others set the property on fire (1998)
  • Bringing gasoline to a ski resort under construction in Vail, Colo., later used to ignite fires that destroyed the ski complex (1998)
  • Bringing incendiary devices to the Medford, Ore., office of U.S. Forest Industries, which were later used in an arson fire (1998)
  • Freeing wild horses from a California BLM facility as others set fire to a barn (2001)

The indictments allege Rubin took part in activities of the ecoterrorism group known as “The Family” based in Eugene, Oregon.

According to The Oregonian, Judge Aiken sentenced Rubin to probation following her release, adding that Rubin “must make monthly payments toward a restitution bill of over $13 million”.

In the Defendant’s Sentencing Memorandum[1] Rubin states:

“Although at the time I believed my only motivation was my deep love for the earth, I now understand that impatience, anger, egotism and self-righteousness were also involved,” she writes. “In retrospect, I recognize how immature my actions were. I am now forty years old and have had much time to reflect on and consider the consequences of my choices, and my thinking has become much more coherent. I know now that my actions were not merely destructive of inanimate objects but were also harmful to other, feeling human beings.”

ALF reports that the Judge drew attention during sentencing “by asking Rubin to read Malcom Gladwell’s latest book, David and Goliath, which she said would could teach her about “non-violent” means of protest.

Okay. Wasn’t that confrontation resolved with some rocks and a slingshot?

Never mind.

What I wonder reading all of this is: Is it not a crime then to free federally held wild horses back into the wild, so long as you do not burn anything down?

[1] Defendant’s Sentencing Memorandum
(pdf, 38 pp, 2.33 MB)

15 thoughts on “Woman who released wild horses from federal pens sentenced to five years for arson”

  1. The path mankind seems to be on today, destroying all of our creatures and the earth,air and waters that surround us for a piece of gold in the pocket.
    Do you not think that before it is over humans that are in the way and defenseless will meet the same fate as our living creatures now.It will be done under the guise of humane end of suffering or assisted suicide.
    And these same humans are setting them selves up as the POWERS to make these Determinations without recourse.
    The conscience can be conditioned over time to accept anything as humane and correct.


  2. It is not illegal to free wild horses from idiots like the blm all they do is complain how much it cost to take care of them.first of all who died and made you assholes boss by rounding all these beautiful horses holding them in pens that are way too small and have no shelter and then you lie and slaughter and send them overseas so them sob people can eat them!! What the f*** is wrong with that picture?? How would you like it if a bunch of people got together and rounded all your sorry scum asses up and treated you like you do all the horses with no food or water just crammed all together with no where to go! Im glad they were set free bet your sweet ass I would be there in a split second to help. after all HORSES WERE HERE BEFORE HUMANS!! ITS HORSE LAND NOT HUMAN LAND.


  3. Some people actually hate wolves because they have been seen killing and eating a deer or a elk which is something that has been going on since animal life evolved on this planet. Would these same people prefer to see deer and elk starving because there is not enough forage? Predators have been helping to keep prey herds healthy for millions of years until this government and many others decided to take that job away from them and kill them instead. When elk herds especially begin to thin out guess who gets the blame? These states send out sharp shooters to kill whole wolf packs blaming them instead of sending in scientific investigators with the knowledge to check for disease or loss of food crucial to the animals survival. These narrow minded ignorant people give me a headache


  4. Thank you Vivian….I would much rather horses run free than face the horrific act of slaughter…And the transportation to the borders to be crammed in tractor trailer rigs no water no possible way to move ….Then being culled out for other to be put out to a desert and starve to death with the heat scorching their frail bodies…..Freedom for wild horses is what they know and how to survive from many years ago…..Just can’t stand ignorant people like Ms. O’Harver.


  5. I would rather give those horses the chance at life, than have them herded screaming in fear into a slaughter house, bolted 11 – 12 times until unconscious as some idiot taunts them, then have them hanging draining blood, some still aware before they slowly bleed to death. And, the poor old horses, the thin, the unwanted, put out back to starve to death. Yeah, I think they would take their chances on living wild where they have a chance to forage, and maybe giving the predator a good fight for their dinner. They have no chance in the slaughter house, no other options. And, this treatment needs to change for all slaughter houses, all animals.


  6. I’ve always thought that wild horses/burros were supposed to be wild and free-roaming. Wasn’t there an Act in 1971 that said that? Wild, free-roaming. Can’t condone arson. I suppose non-violent protest is OK–but does it work better than a sling-shot? Now the “giant” is asking for more input on what to do with all these imprisoned horses–Why doesn’t the giant follow the suggestions put forth by the NAS study that all we Davids paid for? Like–don’t round up any more, let them go, bring in the predators…. I’m standing with David.


    1. The reality of ‘wild and free’ is far different than the romantic notion it conjures up. One needs a knowledge of the actual, non privately owned space available and the type of forage/nutrition produced and available water.

      Wild and free to starve to death and die of thirst wouldn’t work for most people who could realistically make that decision. Why would humane people EVER set a horse up for that? Hence, thinning the herds.

      Other wildlife is managed by hunting seasons. Horses are warehoused.


      1. Warehoused? Are you saying you believe that is superior to out on the range in their natural habitat? There were millions before man began to interfere. Plenty of forage and water on public lands or it would not be “hosting” federally subsidized cattle, 5 to 1 ratio cattle for every horse. Probably more than that.

        No, seeing animals hunting, killing and eating is not a pretty picture. Neither is slaughter which is how humans get their meat. No fighting chance there. That contest is totally rigged on the side of humans.


      2. Or, corralled up to free to death, die of heat exhaustion in the summer, no water because a pipe froze or because someone didn’t check on them. Get the 50 cattle to every one horse off the range and they will be able to survive. They do not eat the grass down to the roots like the other livestock. Horse roaming free, on the land set aside for them would find enough water, and forage, but restrictions placed on them because of leasing is what restricts their abilities find food. The wild horses they have been rounding up looked great before they stuck them in the corrals. Thin the cattle herds, leave the horses alone, leave the predators alone. They will survive just fine without us. Humane people leave the animals to their natural state. They do not submit them to mass terror of be corralled into a slaughter house, smelling blood and death everywhere. You obviously have not seen how they treat horses in the slaughter houses, have not seen the horses being rounded up, There are fewer than 35,000 wild horses on some 27 million acres of federally managed land, while millions of privately-owned cattle graze across some 245 million acres of public lands, including those acres designated for wild horses.


      3. Again Lori you are completely ignorant of wild horses and their importance. You don’t understand history or life between wild and domesticated. The Blm mafia is managing to extinction. I suggest you take science classes and read less rhetoric.


      4. Do not fall for what Lori Lee is saying about the “starving horses” they are not starving, all the round ups show healthy horses


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