Former environmental activist and eco-sabatuer Chelsea Gerlach is now out of prison, on the streets, and in the dance clubs of Oregon. Gerlach was a key leader in a cell of the Earth Liberation Front and is one of the individuals responsible for the 1998 $12 million Vail Mountain ski lodge arson attack, as well as 19 0thers. In 2005 she was arrested along with five other former cell members.
At the time of her arrest she was working as DJ in Portland, OR and selling illegal drugs. Her and her partner Darren Thurston (who later also turned informant) were living together, having put activism behind them, but still living an outlaw lifestyle. Besides the drug dealing business they were also collecting and storing guns illegally. Instead of standing by her actions and once professed ideals, Gerlach quickly turned informant after her arrest in exchange for preferential treatment.
As an informant she helped in the prosecution of numerous activists. One former close friend and comrade of her’s, William “Avalon” Rodgers, even committed suicide in custody in response to the treacherous actions of his former friends like Gerlach and the following police action. In exchange for her compliance Gerlach was sentenced to a few months less than she would have received otherwise and was sent to a nicer cage with more privileges than at least one of her co-defendants.
Gerlach admits that she carries “some shame for the anger and fear I have invoked — both through my acts of property damage and through my cooperation with the government.” She became a devout Buddhist and then a Christian while in prison. She is now attending classes at Portland State University, and says that she plans to pursue a graduate degree in divinity.
Gerlach will be a DJ at the Chance to Dance fundraiser at WOW Hall 7-9 pm Saturday, March 22. The event is a benefit for her disabled nephew Malachi.