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.
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.”
Got the Hollowpoints for the Snitches (2005, United States)
The greatest weapon in the government’s repressive arsenal is the snitch. These sorry examples of humanity provide big brother with an insider’s view of communities of resistance, spread fear and distrust in revolutionary circles, and gift law enforcement with profiling tools to find likely dissenters in the future. Dealing with this problem is one of the most difficult challenges of a militant movement.
While the title of this zine (Taken from Dr. Dre’s Let Me Ride) may seem like unnecessary posturing, the contents contain an intelligent examination of the historical role of snitches, how other movements have dealt with them, and a rogues gallery complete with contact information for dozens of traitors. Written during the early days of the Green Scare, it offers a look into the mindset of frontline activists during a time when snitching was epidemic.
(NOTE: If you have arrived at this page from one of Corey Wrenn’s blogs please be aware that this document was not produced by or for the Animal Liberation Front as she often claims. Furthermore, be aware that, for better or worse, no one listed inside has been subjected to violence as a result of their listing.)
No Compromise #9, 10, 11 (1998, Caldwell, NJ.)
After the shakeup caused by Freeman Wicklund’s departure, one might have expected No Compromise to slow it’s publishing schedule while it re-grouped. Instead, they had one of their most productive years, reporting on everything from the first daylight raid in the US, to the murder of Earth First! activist David “Gypsy” Chain. The volume of important articles in these issues is too great to summarize in a tiny blog post, so instead we would just like to encourage you to read each edition thoroughly. Truly, this is one of our favorite posts on Conflict Gypsy so far as it highlights so many significant events in the movement at the end of the 1990s.
Underground 10-13 (1998 Ontario, Canada)
Our Underground collection continues its way into 1998, a somewhat bittersweet year for the movement. After a period of steady growth in both illegal direct action and militant grassroots activity, No Compromise editor and well known activist Freeman Wicklund denounced the ALF (and most forms of protest) at a large demonstration in southern California. His “new” perspective was merely a recycled, pro-animal form of pacifist strategy taken from Gene Sharpe, and he demanded that people take sides. Freeman was charismatic and many young people had first began their involvement after hearing him speak. They were now torn by his change of heart. Many people dropped out, and above ground pressure campaigns largely ground to a halt.
’98 also saw a continuation of the previous years snitching epidemic, but, as always, some positive developments buoyed our spirits and resolve. In Oregon, protestors jumped the fences at a farm which bred rabbits for vivisection, and soon the United States had it’s first daylight raid underway. Katie Fedor, an organizer with Minnesota’s Student Organization for Animal Rights, became the United States’ first ALF Press Officer in more than a decade, and soon she was speaking out in favor of sabotage and liberations in major media outlets on a regular basis. The conviction of the “GandALF 3” was suddenly overturned on grounds that they had not, in fact, conspired with person unknown to carry out unknown actions at unknown locations! Finally, good people with dedication and resolve rained hell down on animal abusers all year long, resulting in thousands of lives lived outside of cages. It’s hard to keep a good movement down.