TURNING POINT – Issues 5-6 (1986-1987, Oxford, UK)
After a brief run as “Black Beast,” Turning Point emerged as England’s foremost animal rights publication in 1986. Featuring first hand accounts of direct action, a decent analysis of systemic animal abuse, and a willingness to be controversial, Turning Point documented all of the major animal liberation events of its era.
Issues #5 and #6 give coverage to mainstream media distortions of AR activism, CALL’s brilliant raids of Park Farm, ALF strikes across England (Including the liberation of three otters!) and so much more. There is even a brief mention of the Farm Freedom Fighters, the first group to raid a factory farm in the United States. Interestingly, their media relations were handled by none other than Farm Sanctuary.
These two volumes are markedly better than the Black Beast issues that preceded them, and all of us at TALON are excited to finally preserve them in our archive.
Arkangel #10-11 (1993-1994. London, England.)
The early 1990s were a tumultuous time for the movement in England. Hunters began hiring professional security services to beat and harass saboteurs, the violence became so extreme that when Tom Worby was murdered by a hunt masters vehicle, the hunters nearby laughed and mocked his death. The hopefulness of the 1980s was fading away, and campaigners were becoming more hardened, which in turn led to a decline in public support as groups like the Justice Department began sending out small mail bombs. Many organizations were mired in infighting over strategy and issues of class and race. And then there was the problem of repression. Scotland Yard’s Animal Rights National Index had gathered detailed profiles on over 21,000 animal liberationists by 1990, and their spying on the movement was only set to intensify.
Through it all a dedicated core of individuals forged ahead and took animals from places of abuse, educated others about the plight of non-humans, and spread the message of compassionate action across oceans and artificial borders. Arkangel tells the story, and we are happy to continue our posting of the complete set here on TALON.
The ALF Supporters Group Newsletter #1-19 (1982-1986. Nottingham / London, England)
When this archive project was founded two years ago, a list was made of the ten publications that we “had to have.” Number one was a complete set of the first volume of “The SG.” This was a tall order, and we knew it. First off, the Animal Liberation Front Supporters Group must be one of the most raided entities in England, and its members were frequently raided themselves! The result was that many copies of the magazine ended up in police custody both before and after distribution, never to be seen again. Second, it was a relatively old newsletter, and since the first issues were mimeographed on cheap paper, finding intact copies was going to be difficult. We persevered though, and now these rare pieces of movement history are preserved digitally and online for everyone to read and learn from.
Started by Dave Nicholls in 1982, the ALF Supporters Group was an effort to do two things: 1.) To raise funds for people arrested for animal related direct actions. 2.) To create a broader base of support for the Animal Liberation Front inside the movement. Both goals were met quickly. Within two weeks of their founding, the Supporters Group hit the number of members they had set as their long term goal. Through direct donations, memberships, fundraising events, and sales of merchandise, the SG was able to contribute towards the sizable legal costs of activists being arrested across England.
The newsletter itself went through varying degrees of quality in writing, layout, and value to the movement. The early days of the Nicholls run may have had a drab interior, but the hand illustrated covers were sometimes gorgeous, and the rhetoric had not yet strayed into the more-militant-than-thou nonsense which came later. Eventually the writing would border on the cultish, but there is scarcely an issue of the magazine that doesn’t have some redeeming value. When read critically and as a whole body of work, this magazine follows the rise and spread of underground action for animals across the globe, illustrates the value of coalition building, and provides solid examples of extremism to be avoided through coverage of groups like the Animal Rights Militia. It also provides many historical details found nowhere else!
“The SG” has gone through several incarnations since British Law enforcement shut this one down in 1986. (While carrying out the investigation for the notorious Sheffield trial that sent Ronnie Lee to prison for 10 years, the police raided the SG and charged it’s editors with incitement. Everything published by the SG afterwords had to be run past a lawyer first, but this didn’t stop further raids, arrests, and convictions of those involved in the newsletter.) It is still being published today, copies can be ordered from www.alfsg.org.uk.
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.
Animal Warfare (1989, David Henshaw, London, England)
Based upon a television show of the same name, Animal Warfare was one of the first books written about the rise of animal liberation militancy. Its author, David Henshaw, is decidedly anti-animal rights, and at times his coverage is so unfair and deceitful that it’s tempting to write this publication off as mere tabloid journalism. That would be a mistake. While clearly written from the perspective of a person intent on smearing activists, this paperback also provides us with a look at our history less slanted by movement propagandizing and cheerleading. At times that picture is not pretty.
Authored during the rise of what some English activists called “the cult of militancy,” Animal Warfare takes the fodder provided by the most extreme actions of the early 80s and spins an ugly tale of car-bombs, poisoning hoaxes, graveyard desecration, and alliances with racist organizations such as the National Front. While there are plenty of grotesque distortions of facts, there are also valuable lessons to be learned about how the best tactical decisions consider our movement’s ability to survive backlash while building mass.
At a time when many modern activists seem intent on repeating the mistakes of the past, (or at least blogging as if they intend on repeating those mistakes), Animal Warfare contributes to our ability to learn about media falsification, the dangers of militaristic posturing, and the events which led to the weakening of England’s mass militant movement for animal liberation.