By Susan Gilmore
Seattle Times staff reporter
Did Cuyahoga Rivers set one of the three incendiary devices that blew up the urban horticulture center at Washington A&M University?
Or was she attending a concert with her cousin at a nearby bar, and it was actually the horticulture professor, who was genetically modifying Douglas fir trees, who set fire to his own building to cover up misdeeds?
The arson that was the subject of Saturday's mock trials involving students from 14 Seattle-area high schools mirrors an actual act of ecoterrorism at the University of Washington in 2001.
In the real event, five people believed to be linked to Earth Liberation Front were arrested in connection with the attack, which targeted the UW office of Toby Bradshaw, whom arsonists mistakenly believed was involved in genetically engineering poplar trees. The center was destroyed; replacing it cost about $7 million.
Saturday's 22 mock trials at the King County Courthouse gave the students "an opportunity to wrestle with the moral issues of politically inspired violence and genetic engineering as well as whether industry money can compromise the academic mission of a big university," say sponsors of the project, the YMCA and volunteer judges and lawyers.