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 23-26 (2004, Santa Cruz / San Francisco, CA)
One of the lessons that archiving old animal liberation publications has taught me is that the most extreme actions have rarely produced much in the way of results for animals. A public that already sees veganism as odd might still see the value of rescuing animals from a laboratory, but will never support a car bombing. When innocents are injured, or when murder was the goal, the backlash starts to creep into our own ranks, and as we fracture law enforcement and industry groups take advantage. In the end, I can think of no bombing (or contamination, or grave robbing, etc.) which advanced the cause of animal rights more than it harmed it. This is not to say that bombings and the like could never be successful. At later stages of many revolutionary struggles, when the majority of the public supports the cause, bombs can clear away in one night what years of protest could not. While a movement is in its infancy, however, it could be argued that more often than not bombs blow up in our faces.
And so it was in 2004 when a group calling itself the Revolutionary Cells Animal Liberation Brigade carried out two bombings of HLS related targets in California. The movement was left to make lemonade from truly shitty lemons, and No Compromise did their best to mitigate the harm of the actions while keeping activists focused on the real enemy.
The year continued with the indictment of the SHAC 7, the emergence of Austria as a leader in the movement, and some exciting open rescues. Sarahjane Blum and Ryan Shapiro’s organization, GourmetCruelty.com, carried out one such operation that piqued public interest and eventually resulted in a sympathetic program on Animal Planet. Elsewhere Gina Lynn was imprisoned for defying the Seattle grand jury, Billy Cottrell was arrested for a massive SUV dealership arson, and the Universtiy of Iowa was treated to the most sophisticated lab raid to occur since the early 90s.
Every time we post a year of No Compromise we say the same thing: that this is essential reading for those who wish to understand the recent history of our movement. This posting is no exception. No Compromise was the best AR publication of its era, and 2004 saw the publication refining its strengths and providing their readers with four of the best issues yet.
Grand Juries: Tools of Political Repression. (1998, Portland. OR)
The United States government, like all repressive states, will not stand for any challenge to their authority. Abroad, they maintain their power with a diverse selection of tactics that range from the killing of journalists, to drone assassinations. Here at home their methods are also broad, but to maintain the illusion of democracy they usually only resort to murder as a last option. (And they do resort to murder. From Fred Hampton to Judi Bari, the FBI has repeatedly proved their willingness to take lives.) So, how does the state keep social control while still pretending to welcome dissent? First and foremost, dissent is only allowed so long as it is impotent to create change. Hold your signs, cast your ballots, and say whatever you like- so long as it doesn’t threaten the ruling class. Once you step past that boundary the gloves come off as fast as the illusion of constitutional protections.
Right now there are several secretive grand juries running in the United States. They are investigating (and attempting to disrupt) animal liberation and anarchist communities under the guise of solving crimes. This is not a new phenomenon, throughout the history of this country these shadowy tribunals have been used to great effect to slow revolutionary movements. The use of grand juries against environmentalists and radical vegans became especially epidemic in the 1980s and 1990s, most notably with the frequent subpoenaing of people doing purely legal support work for underground direct action groups. One activist in particular, Craig Rosebraugh, was subpoenaed a total of eight times to various grand juries.
After his first few subpoenas, Craig wrote the essay Grand Juries: Tools of Political Repression. Originally intended for a university class, the essay was eventually reprinted in pamphlet format by Liberation Collective. The tone of the publication is a little heavy handed, academic, and politically naive, but the information contained inside is crucial for those wanting an overview of grand juries.
After you read this publication, we would like to encourage you to show solidarity with activists imprisoned for refusing to comply with grand juries. A good first step is to write them a letter. All three people listed below are being held without ever having been convicted of a crime, and all are being kept in solitary confinement. A letter of support from a stranger will go a long way towards brightening their day- so break out your pens and paper!
Katherine Olejnik #42592-086
P.O. Box 13900
Seattle, WA 98198
Matthew Kyle Duran #42565-086
P.O. Box 13900
Seattle, WA 98198
Matthew Pfeiffer #42421-086
P.O. Box 13900
Seattle, WA 98198
No Compromise #20-22 (2003. Santa Cruz / San Francisco, CA)
No Comp scored another great year in 2003, this time by going deeper into practical instructions for campaigning, and also by examining the smaller stories in greater detail. While the high profile victories of anti-HLS activists were given their due, inspirational figures who had passed on were also given touching coverage. Issue #20 features articles on early Band of Mercy and Animal Liberation Front founder Sue Smith, and Sweden’s animal lib die-hard, Ake Soderlund. Similar examinations of our past, and the courageous figures whose shoulders we stand upon, pepper the 2003 issues. Of particular note is the article on Henry Hutto in issue #21.
2003 was also the year that Rod Coronado finally got off of probation and was allowed to participate in the movement again. His writings for No Compromise were as subversive and inspiring as ever, and it is easy to see why the government considered him such a threat.
As the year progressed No Comp moved to a magazine format and tightened their graphic design skills in response to Jake Conroy’s work on the SHAC USA newsletter. These glossy issues were excellent contributions to the movement, and it is a shame that in only a few more years NC would cease to exist altogether. These information (and inspiration!) packed issues are worth reading again to inform and encourage our current actions.
No Compromise #18-19 (2001-2002. Santa Cruz, CA.)
If you have been following our posting of the complete No Compromise than you have read along as the new, 1990s militant grassroots took its first steps, stumbling along an exciting, and at times error filled path towards animal liberation. Those early years saw a lot of dedication and courage, but sadly little in the way of new tactics or intelligent planning.
That all changed in 2001 with the arrival of the anti-HLS campaign in the United States. The focus suddenly shifted from scattershot regional targeting to a single, international pressure point and the results were encouraging.
2001 wasn’t just about the fight against Huntingdon. The tactics developing in that one small struggle were inspiring activists globally to step up the fight against all areas of animal abuse, and sadly, some of our friends ended up in prison as a result. The support of these jailed comrades was inspiring, but our movement was dealt a terrible blow as Barry Horne died on Hungerstrike. That was not the only tragedy we would witness in these 12 months. Jeff Luers was sentenced to nearly 23 years in prison for an act of sabotage which harmed no one. Animal liberationists had been a strong force in the growing movement against globalization of capitalism, and at the 2001 G8 summit we watched as protestors and media were brutalized and bloodied in the lead up to the police murder of Carlo Giuliani. And of course, non-humans continued to be slaughtered in endless, unfathomable numbers. The tone of these two issues of No Compromise may have been optimistic, even cocky, but those of us on the ground knew that times were tough and getting tougher.
No Compromise #15,16, 17 (2000-2001, Santa Cruz, CA.)
I want to preface this post with this: The turn of the century was an epic time to be alive and fighting! Between the WTO riots, a huge upsurge in ALF attacks on the West Coast, some inspiring support of grand jury resisters, and the migration of the SHAC campaign to the United States, there were also thousands upon thousands of other actions across the planet. It was hard to keep up with all of the news because it seemed that people everywhere had finally taken enough and were beginning a counter strike for non-humans, wilderness, and human freedom. Luckily, No Compromise kept track of most of the action, and produced three excellent issues during this incredible year of revolt. Beyond the coverage of the latest direct actions, attention was also paid to our past successes and failures- and all animal activists would do well to read issue #16’s “Blast From The Past” article about lab raids in the 1980s.
North American Earth Liberation Front Press Office Subcommittee on Eco-Terrorism (2002, Portland, OR)
One of the most frequently repeated myths about direct action is that is so damaging to public opinion that if people didn’t already do it, the government would in order to criminalize movements. If this were true it certainly seems that the system would spend less time trying to prevent radical action by silencing it’s proponents and more time harassing the Sierra Club. The truth is that nothing scares corporations and their paid-in-full politician pets like a well organized group with a willingness to fight and the ability to reach the public with their ideas.
In the late 1990s environmental sabotage was happening all across the world, but was particularly frequent in the northwest of the United States. At the forefront of these actions was the Earth Liberation Front, an anonymous, underground group, who utilized above ground spokespeople to reach the public. Their primary conduit for media relations was an activist from Portland named Craig Rosebraugh and his organization, the North American ELF Press Office. For his role in publicizing the motivations and rhetoric of the ELF he had his arm broken by the police, his home raided by Joint Terrorism Task Forces, his break cables cut, was repeatedly subpoenaed to grand juries, and eventually was called to testify before a congressional sub-committee who hoped to imprison him on contempt charges. The so-called “Eco-Terror committee” surely hoped that Craig would be an easy target, but that didn’t exactly work out for them. Snarky, educated, and angry, Craig’s testimony ran the gamut from stonewalling, to educational, to hilarious. For example, while running the Press Office with his friend Leslie James Pickering, Craig owned a bakery. When asked how the press office was funded, Rosebraugh simply replied “muffins.” When asked who had asked him to become the ELF press officer and how he was contacted, Craig responded, “Jesus Christ. It was a spiritual sort of thing.”
Jokes aside, a congressional subpoena represented a shift in the way environmental sabotage was being treated by the system, and publicizing that fact fell to Leslie James Pickering. In order to spread the word about the hearings, the NAELFPO sold a DIY booklet containing all of the testimony presented by both sides at the hearing and the subsequent written questions sent to Craig by the subcommittee. In a recent conversation with Conflict Gypsy about the booklet, Pickering had this to say:
“I can’t say for sure, how many of these were printed, but it was definitely less than 500. I had a little production line going, with people wearing gloves and hats, only half-jokingly, recently having learned about the WUO and Prairie Fire. The subcommittee was in February of 2002 and I left Portland in June of 2002. These booklets were produced somewhere in between there…probably March or April, because I utilized some machinery they had at college before the semester let out and because this was actually in peoples’ hands before it was easily found online. They were distributed through the ELF Press Office, which means that people could send us $10 and get a copy mailed, or get one at one of our event tables. A good chunk of them also went to AK distro, but we never saw a cent from those, which is another story. One of the more interesting aspects were the complaints from anonymous anarchists about it costing too much. This was when the PO was being bombarded with anonymous comments which were critical from many angles. I often think of how much work went into this and how cheap these people were, assuming for a moment that they weren’t all feds. If we didn’t have the old magnet scam going [where large magnets would be used to reset the copy keys at Kinkos – ed] we would probably have lost money at $10, because it was a pretty thick booklet.”
No Compromise #12-14 (1999, Old Bridge, NJ and Santa Cruz, CA)
If I had to create a list of my favorite years in animal and earth liberation history, 1999 would be in the top 5. As the movement looked towards the new millennium there seemed to be an intense urgency in the air, perhaps people felt the need to close the 20th century with a bang or leave their mark before the world ended in a technological melt down on Y2K! Whatever the reasons, direct action reached a fever pitch. Lab raids returned to the United States, the Earth Liberation Front continued it’s ascendancy, Hillgrove farm was shut forever, and everyone seemed to be preparing for the World Trade Organization ministerial in Seattle. Across the globe there was a sense that people were not going to take it anymore, and whether you were struggling against bio-technology or prisons or speciesism, chances are good that you were employing some form of illegal tactic.
No Compromise may not have covered everything going on in the global struggle, but if it was animal lib related then chances are it was covered in these three issues. From the death of Alex Slack to end of the annual Hegins pigeon massacre, you’d be hard pressed to find a more complete overview of these twelve action packed months.
Spirit of Freedom: The Newsletter of the North American Earth Liberation Prisoner Support Network (Dec 2000 through Spring 2002, Eugene, OR)
As the boom of environmentally motivated arson and sabotage accelerated at the turn of the century it quickly became clear that the government, on behalf of their corporate sponsors, had a crackdown in the works. Unable to catch those responsible, the heat was turned up on support networks, spokespeople, and peripheral figures in the anarchist and radical wilderness defense communities. Grand jury subpoenas, congressional hearings, and new legislative efforts at repression seemed constant. British activists, having long dealt with similar threats, began urging radicals in the US to start a support network for the inevitable arrests and imprisonment of eco-warriors.
Working closely with Noel Molland (AKA Rabbix, publisher of R@T and Eco-Vegan) a young anarchist and former member of ADL New York named Daniel McGowan helped found The North American Earth Liberation Prisoners Support Network. Their publication, Spirit of Freedom, soon became one of many excellent prisoner support zines coming out of the Northwest. Covering all aspects of the movement and lending solidarity to a wide variety of struggles, Spirit of Freedom was a consistent source of revolutionary news and crucial support for our jailed comrades.
As the decade progressed Daniel found himself needing the very type of support offered by the NAELPSN. Arrested during the “Green Scare” (Ironically, a term Daniel coined on an early cover of Spirit of Freedom) Daniel is now serving a 7 year sentence in a Communications Management Unit in Indiana. Please visit his support site at www.http://www.supportdaniel.org/ for more information.
Underground #17 (The rare ACTUAL final issue!) (2002, WIllowdale, ONT, Canada.)
Several months ago we posted Underground #16 along with the all caps tagline, “THE RARE FINAL ISSUE!” Boy, is our face red. The final issue of Underground is actually issue 17.
Much of what was said in our post about issue 16 is also true of 17- the news was late, the supporters groups was constantly dealing with the problems of rotating volunteers, and as print media was being challenged by the internet, Underground also seemed to be declining in quality. The final issue did contain some important bits of forgotten history though, like the joint resignation letter from ELF press officers Craig Rosebraugh and Leslie James Pickering, or the tiny article about Belgian animal liberation super-arsonist Geert Waegemans additional charges. There is also a wonderful transcription of Mirha-Soleil Ross’ radio interview with Rod Coronado, former ALF Press Officer (and current snitch apologist) David Barbarash’s 2001 Year End Direct Action Report, and a reprinting of the ever popular “Staying Free By Shutting the Fuck Up!”