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.The TALON Conspirator posts will highlight our favorite organizations and the facets of our shared history that inspire them. Our third post in this series is written by volunteers from Empty Cages Los Angeles.
Empty Cages Los Angeles is a small grassroots collective that works as part of the Gateway to Hell network. A group of anarchists formed ECLA with the specific goal of working on the Gateway to Hell campaign in LA in order to help put an end to the transportation of animals to vivisection laboratories. Right now we are putting all of our focus and energy into getting China Southern Airlines to put a permanent ban on primate shipments. China Southern is the only commercial airline that continues to ship primates from China into the United States and Europe to be tortured inside research labs such as UCLA in California, SNBL in Washington, OSHU in Oregon, Covance in Texas, HLS/LSR in New Jersey and the UK, and every major laboratory in the West.
The strategy of the Gateway to Hell campaign is to cut off the supply chain of animals to labs by getting transportation companies, such as airlines, to enact bans on the transportation of animals destined for research labs. The basic idea is simple: if the labs cannot get specific animals, they cannot do the experiments. This strategy has largely focused on commercial airlines because the majority of animals are shipped in the cargo holds on commercial flights, and this was a practice in which nearly every commercial airline participated until the launch of this campaign. Currently only two big players are left: China Southern Airlines and Air France/ KLM.
As an organization, ECLA uses focused, targeted campaigns and pressure tactics along with public outreach to convince companies to change their policies. This means that once we pick a target we put our focus and energy into constant pressure until we gain a real, meaningful victory.We do this through encouraging consumer boycotts; holding demonstrations at the airlines’ corporate offices, cargo offices, and at the airport; and organizing targeted global phone and email actions to shut down their communications. Some of the more risky and exciting actions we have done were office invasions of both El Al Airlines and China Southern Airlines. After only a few actions like this, we were successful in getting China Eastern Airlines to put a ban on primate shipments, which effectively put an end to primate imports from China into LA. To highlight the impact of this one victory, Los Angeles was the largest port of entry for primate shipments with 45% of all primates imported into the US coming through LAX.
We could not gain victories like this if it weren’t for the network of activists and organizations all around the world working together to pressure airlines and educate the public. We also wouldn’t be where we are today if it weren’t for organizations such as The Talon Conspiracy and individuals like Josh Harper who work to preserve the history of the animal liberation movement. Through publications, workshops, and learning our own history, we are able to avoid the mistakes of the past and take the tactics that work and have held the test of time and continue to employ and modify them.
As an organization, our main focus is Animal Liberation; however, we all work on various other projects and liberation movements and have had solidarity demonstrations with the Tar Sands Blockade and with Greek Antifascists opposing the Golden Dawn. Our collective members work with various other projects and organizations, such as working with the IWW, running an anarchist distro, volunteering at a queer youth center, organizing benefits for political prisoners and legal funds, and working on antifascist and anarchist organizing. Our politics lie in feminism and anarchism, and we believe that we must strive for the total liberation of animals, the earth, and humans while maintaining focus and strategy.
Some of our members are working on a new project that aims to expand the reach of the Gateway to Hell campaign in the US and to provide more support, guidance, and information to others with the goal of creating a vast network of grassroots animal rights and environmental activists. So be on the lookout for The Bunny Alliance!
– * One of our collective members, Tyler Lang, and friend and supporter Kevin Olliff are currently being unjustly held in a rural Illinois jail. If you appreciate the work we are doing and want to donate anything, please donate to these political prisoners who are continuing to battle injustice from within their cell walls: http://supportkevinandtyler.com/
(To see the videos associated with this article, please visit the permalink by clicking HERE.)