Rodriguez said she believes the Costa Mesa arrests and the FBI tails were part of an ongoing effort to harass animal-rights activists that began last September, when the FBI arrested former Brea resident Josh Connole—and then released him without charges—in connection with an Earth Liberation Front arson of a local Humvee dealership. Although Rodriguez said she and other Earth First activists sympathize with whoever torched the auto dealership, they aren't personally involved in violent action.
"Those of us in the aboveground movement think the underground movement is helping realize our goals," she said. "We are definitely not critical of them, but none of us are engaged in anything like that. It would be so stupid because we're under so much surveillance. It is clear from the repression we witnessed during Liberation Weekend that the FBI wants to make it as difficult as possible for legitimate activists to organize for social change."