On Friday, January 31st 2014, our movement lost a dedicated, gentle warrior by the name of David Hayden. It would be impossible to summarize all of the ways that he worked on behalf of animals, partly because there were so many ways, and partly because his humility kept us from knowing them all. Behind the scenes he was the primary driving force at No Compromise magazine, a brave frontline activist at demonstrations, and a man who, despite limited financial resources, always gave what he could to sanctuaries, conferences, and activist projects. I shared a jail cell with him on a few occasions, marched by his side on others, and loved him not just as a comrade in the struggle but as a generous friend who stood by me even when I didn’t always deserve it. His passing is a reminder that the best fighters are also the best people: kind hearted, soft spoken, humble, and ready to raise hell when injustice rears its ugly head. We will miss you, David, always.
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.
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 #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.
Inside / Out: Diary of Madness (2001, St. Louis, MO)
Back when the United States still had a strong grassroots animal liberation infrastructure, activists would regularly travel from all across the country to attend national demonstrations. Hundreds, or even thousands, of people would descend on various targets, and for a few days at least, bring the killers a little taste of the hell that they regularly created for non-humans.
Inside / Out is the story of Brenda Shoss’ experience at one such demonstration which took place in Little Rock between October 27th and 29th in 2001. Brenda, a devoted animal rescuer and mother, represented the broad diversity of the campaign against Huntingdon Life Sciences during it’s early years. Hailing from St. Louis, she hardly fit the image of “the usual suspects” in militant campaigning. Happily marching alongside pierced punks and anarchists, Brenda’s mild mannered and patriotic politics did not clash with those held by her comrades: instead her presence signaled a movement able to break through to a wider audience. Throughout her account of the demonstrations she evokes the anger and outrage that prompted thousands to band together, despite their differences, to fight to shut down HLS.
Following her personal reflections on the demonstration and overall campaign are excerpts from Michelle Rokke’s “Diaries of Despair,” an insider’s account of the horrors that happen behind the locked doors of Huntingdon, a company that continues to kill hundreds of animals a day in unnecessary and vicious experiments.