Earth Liberation Front 1997-2002 (2003. Second printing with new dedication and layout 2007. Portland, OR)
Leslie James Pickering grew up in Buffalo, NY. In the mid 90s he became involved in the local hardcore music scene. While attending shows in the surrounding area, he began reading the literature distributed there by local animal rights groups. Zines such as Holocaust (published by Animal Defense League founder Kris Qua) were his introduction to radical politics and support for underground direct action.
Like most kids who grow up in smaller cities, Leslie James left Buffalo as soon as he had the means. After a brief stint skateboarding in San Francisco (during which time he filmed for the underground skate video rarity “Heat Zone”) Pickering landed in Portland, OR. There, he met Craig Rosebraugh, and after a few years the two of them began publishing a newspaper called Resistance with other members of a group called Liberation Collective. At this same time, a group calling themselves the Earth Liberation Front began a series of arson attacks against companies involved in logging and other environmentally harmful practices. They sent their first media statement to Liberation Collective, and the rest of the story is what Pickering documents in Earth Liberation Front 97-02.
Consisting of reprints, interviews, and some original material, Earth Liberation Front 97-02 is a must read for those who wish to understand the beginnings of the Green Scare.
No Compromise #29-30 (2006. Santa Cruz / San Francisco, CA)
The early days of my activism were so exciting. After a lifetime of feeling powerless I suddenly discovered that there was a community dedicated to fighting the good fight. Its members were in every major city and many smaller ones, and sometimes not living in any city at all, but in trees and encampments. The people involved were empowered to act for themselves in order to create a better world, and had abandoned all the false hope of political parties and their dead politics. Words meant little, action was what counted, and the sky was the limit. The internet was not yet in wide use, and thank goodness! That meant that we met each other in conference rooms, in squats, on the streets, and sometimes on the pages of No Compromise magazine.
No Compromise shaped who I am today. Each new issue contained articles that helped me and thousands of others to evolve our own style of resistance, and as our experience grew we were able to share our stories in the pages of the magazine.
After 30 issues, the steering committee of No Compromise decided to stop publishing in 2006. Their decision could not have come at a worse time. With the SHAC website and newsletter killed by the convictions of the SHAC 7, Bite Back being published only sporadically and with a limited focus, and the Earth First! Journal mired in its “Confronting Oppression Within” drama, the sudden absence of No Compromise meant that the primary sources for radical animal liberation news, opinion, and strategy were the twin sewers of online social networks and the North American Animal Liberation Press Office. These were dark times for our movement, and we are only just beginning to recover.
The final issues of No Compromise were the best of the series, though! I was in prison when issue 30 was released, and it felt electric in my hands. I read it over and over, alternately laughing and crying. As I was putting this post together I decided to pull out that print copy. It gave me the same sense of awe I had when I read those first issues. More than that, it reminded me that there is still a community of people capable of changing the world through compassionate direct action and mutual aid. And you know what? We are going to win!
(The complete set of all past issues of No Compromise can be found HERE)…
The animal liberation movement has seen some bewildering strategies come and go over the years. One of the weirdest was the idea that animals should be removed altogether from the vivisection debate. As far back as the 1970s there were groups and individuals who insisted (often with religious zeal) that the issue with animal experimentation was one of scientific fraud, and that humans were too selfish to care about animals. These anti-vivisectionists thought that if the general public could be convinced that vivisection did not work, people would be outraged by the waste of their tax dollars and would demand that the practice ended.
The idea that the public would revolt if they saw their tax dollars wasted on “scientific fraud” is absurd. How many people living in the United States are already aware of ways in which their tax dollars are abused and how many are rioting as a result? How many of those involved in the fight against vivisection would fight with the same force for money instead of lives? Furthermore, since this who strategy relied on the idea that “Vivisection is Scientific Fraud,” what percentage of the public is qualified to debate science with scientists? Finally, if vivisection were to be defeated using this strategy, where does that leave animals killed for fur, food, and entertainment? Were they to be abandoned since the selfishness of humanity is all we had to appeal to?
Despite these obvious weaknesses in their argument, groups like SUPRESS, and their founder Javier Burgos, made several documentaries promoting the idea. The first by SUPRESS was called “Hidden Crimes,” and despite its message that fraud is more of an issue than animals, graphic imagery of animals being mutilated is prominent throughout the film. Much of this footage was obtained by the Animal Liberation Front, who notably fight vivisection because of their concern for non-humans, rather than bad science or mis-spent tax dollars.
Hidden Crimes promised to be the start of a new movement which would swiftly abolish vivisection. If failed to keep that promise, but for all of its faults, it was seen by tens of thousands of people upon its release and remains an important part of our movements history.
TALON Conspiracy co-founder Josh Harper recently spoke in Portland, OR. about the history of anti-vivisection activism and his hopes for a more intelligent, multi-generational approach going forward. Thanks to Burning Hearts Media for filming and editing, Laughing Horse Books for hosting, and Portland Animal Liberation for organizing the event.
Flesh and Blood #1-8 and 10 (1980-1992 – Hertfordshire, England)
Flesh and Blood was a long running, journal sized magazine with high production values. Each issue featured a color cover printed on heavy, full gloss cardstock, and brief articles with information about animal rights campaigns. It’s appearance and tone was quite mainstream, but many issues showed support for illegal direct action. This was, perhaps, Flesh and Blood’s greatest strength: it refused to split activists along standard radical / moderate / conservative lines, and instead showed measured support for everyone in the struggle.
We are seeking more information about this publication, including the number of issues published. We are also in need of issue #9, which relaunched the publication after its demise in the early 80s. If you can assist us, please use the contact form available HERE.
Before anyone working on the TALON site spent their lives hunting down rare earth and animal lib zines, our time was spent collecting comic books. From the superheros of our youth to the underground treasures discovered in our early 20s, comics have been an influence on our lives and projects.
When we started this site we wanted the visual aspect to reflect this love for graphic literature. With an eye towards mocking the FBI’s portrayal of animal liberation radicals, we wanted images of an animal masked paramilitary organization conspiring to change the world through direct action and digital zine distribution. In this way we figured we could set ourselves apart from other archive sites and have a little fun. The problem? We can’t draw!
Luckily, some very talented artists out there are helping us create the characters that populate TALON’s world. Our first contribution comes from Anthony Sorge, author and artist for the amazing Crust Dog comics. His rendition of the RABBIT COMMANDOES is, hopefully, just the beginning of our collection of characters for this site.
Got some artistic talent? Want to help us fulfill our comic nerd aspirations while we grow the archive? Please contact us HERE to apply. …
Because the Animal Liberation Front is without central leadership and exists more as tactic than an organization, most volunteers were never recruited. Instead, they were people who heard about other actions, and when their conscience could take no more of the brutality surrounding them, decided to take actions of their own. By 1983 the government of England was well aware of this. Police PR departments were told to deny that attacks were happening, newspapers were pressured to stop covering direct actions for animals, and raids were carried out against the ALF Supporters Group and other producers of movement media. The government’s logic was that if people were unaware of the Front’s existence, perhaps membership would be lower and fewer attacks would be carried out.
This made it very difficult for interested parties to keep abreast of the multiple actions happening in England every single night. In response the ALF’s press office began to distribute Action Reports, a typewritten diary of every known direct action for non-humans for the month it was produced. In some cases full statements from participants in the underground would be published, other times reports were compiled from mainstream news articles.
The idea of Action Reports soon spread to Australia, the United States, and elsewhere. Eventually these reports evolved into the “Diary of Actions” that became common in radical AR publications such as No Compromise.
Editors note: Since this site’s inception, the volunteers at TALON have felt that our purpose is not to catalog the past, but to inform the present. We do not exist as activist nostalgia, but to guide new generations by sharing information about the errors and victories of those who came before them. Our hope was always that modern campaigns would be built with these lessons, and that we could share their own errors and victories as a long term effort to refine our movement’s tactics and strategies.
It is with great pride that, after two years, we are seeing evidence that our plan is working! The TALON Conspirator posts will highlight our favorite organizations and the facets of our shared history that inspire them. Our first post in this series is written by Dylan Powell and details one of North America’s most dynamic struggles against non-human slavery: Marineland Animal Defense.
It is an honour to write about this campaign for this site because it was so heavily inspired by it. Around the same time this campaign was developing I was filling in the website gaps for Talon – then Conflict Gypsy – and much of the campaign structure and function came from immersing myself in the material on this site.
Marineland Animal Defense began as a pressure campaign in early 2011. It was originally made up of a handful of people who were already organizing or active in opposing the park, but who wanted to move from the symbolic to something measurable. Marineland, a captive animal marine park in Niagara Falls, On, has had an opposition almost as old as it’s 50+ year history, however, as is common with our movement there was never a single dedicated campaign, and as many folks burned out or dropped out, people were constantly left to re-invent the wheel. We wanted to end that process and create a dedicated multi generational campaign that was solely focused on the park and on the long term transition of the park. Many of the folks involved were also active in other movements, and the park itself begs a coalition type response, so we also add a coalition focus to the pressure campaign model typical in AR.
Our first summer we moved the amount of demonstrations on site from 2-3 year to 15 or more. We battled an aggressive response from local police, park owner John Holer and the City of Niagara Falls. Our demonstrations, the largest that year being around 80 people, were some of the best attended in Southern Ontario and we had a bit of momentum around us. This park was hated and we were channeling that rage.
As we entered 2012 the City of Niagara Falls declared the land we demonstrated on a surplus and leased to Marineland. This came out of months of back door meetings between the City of Niagara Falls, John Holer and the Niagara Regional Police as to how to “get rid of us.” We shifted our next demonstration to John Holer’s house (Possibly the first home demonstration in Southern Ontario AR history) and moved our on site demonstrations across from the walk in gate to the park. We got a bunch of megaphones and we got loud.
Not long after, 8 park employees came forward detailing systemic abuse and neglect at the park. In August of 2012 our demonstrations grew from 100 people to 500. We knew we had hit a major break through, but now were tasked with channeling this immense public outrage into something substantive. Marineland had seen waves of pressure like this before, but never over multiple years. We set the closing day as a large demonstration to work towards – with many smaller events in between – and managed an 800 person presence with around 200 folks taking it upon themselves to jump the gates and shut down the final dolphin show of the year.
With the power of that action came the full legal weight of a large business that has had success in the past silencing advocates. To date, three people have been served with Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP) – two ex-trainers and myself. My suit seeks a $1.5 million penalty – the largest SLAPP suit against an animal advocate in Canadian legal history. Luckily, we had poured through the TALON archives numerous times and knew that we could expect such a response – and also that it could be considered a sign of effectiveness! We have been busy illustrating back to Marineland that this attempt to chill us through the courts will only strengthen our base and grow our reach.
In the background to all of that, we are also organizing for opening day - May 18th, 2013. We hope to top previous records with this demonstration and are organizing to place 1,000 people outside of the park on that day. These are numbers which have not been seen in Canada since the 1980′s and they are a direct representation of our model – multigenerational, intersectional, coalition based. It is our broad based politics and our ability to create space for a wide range of people that is making these demonstrations possible – even as the media begins to walk away from the issue.
Although our campaign is serious and militant, we do not do balaclavas or macho posturing. You would be amazed what you can do with candle lit vigils sometimes! Although animal liberation is the primary focus for many of the organizers – we strive to have a solid critique of whiteness, settler colonialism, heteronormativity and more. We are proud to be a campaign endorsed by queer liberation organizations, trade unions and migrant justice advocacy organizations and also do not hesitate to take a stand against oppression within our movement. We also believe in a diversity of tactics – ensuring that the pacifist police won’t us rely on tactics that are comfortable and convenient instead of effective.
We welcome any and all support and call on folks from everywhere to get to Niagara for May 18th – but our real call to action lies in relaying the blueprint that we learned from this archive. Our movements history was built and shaped by pressure campaigns – by finding real life targets (not abstract ones) and building community and tension around them. As that pressure built – so to do regional and then national networks. This model has lead to the liberation of thousands of real living-breathing animals and also had a serious effect on the dominant economic system that governs our lives and relationships – capitalism. This is our strength – and the broader our politics, the stronger the model. In an age of online shock campaigns, desk preachers (academics), and aimless “educational” approaches, this is the spirit we need to rekindle – and this is the spirit you will find hidden in the pages of this archive. – Dylan
We always write the same thing when we post an issue of Do or Die, so this time we will spare you the superlatives. This issue has worldwide ecological news, human freedom struggles, non-human direct action, and a radical history of football alongside a little bit of humor and many inspiring images. A must read, so click below and get to it!
No Compromise #27-28 (2005. Santa Cruz / San Francisco, CA)
The volunteer staff of No Compromise may have only published two issues in 2005, but both were valuable sources of news and ideas from across the globe. As always, the reports inside are bitter sweet. Many animals were rescued, many abusers felt some heat, and many people rose up and fought back. Then, there was the backlash, the senate hearings, and the arrests. The movement has never stopped though, and No Comp always served as a reminder that come hell or high water we were all going to forge ahead, sometimes stronger, sometimes weaker.
One unfortunate development in 2005 was the arrest and conviction of Chris “Dirt” McIntosh. Despite receiving movement support, Chris turned to Nazi groups in prison for advice and friendship. Soon, he counted himself among their ranks, and requested to be removed from animal lib prisoner lists. He would have been removed anyway though: there is never room in our struggle for a Nazi!
Luckily, other prisoners continued to show courage, dignity, and resolve from behind bars. Both 2005 issues of NC contain inspiring letters and interviews with jailed comrades. All in all, this is another must read year for the best animal liberation publication to come out of the United States.
TALON is a shadowy collective of archivists and media soldiers hellbent on advancing their ZINESTORM master plan! Soon our JACKAL minions will flood the streets, the old order will fall, and liberty will flourish for the entire biological community! TAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALOOOOOOOON!!!
sponsors and supporters
The Talon Conspiracy is an online archive preserving the history of protest movements for animal rights and environmentalism. Its owners, contributors, and designers are not responsible for actions taken by third parties which may be harmful or unlawful to the individuals or entities named in archived publications. This web site is provided for the purpose of historical research and analysis, and is not intended to incite, encourage, or condone any criminal action on the part of its readers. Finally, The Talon Conspiracy does not necessarily agree with any of the views expressed in the publications in our archive, but aims to provide a thorough collection of the history of eco direct action. All opinions expressed in our archives are those of their original authors only.