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.
Liberate! #1-7 (1996-1997 Birkenhead, New Zealand)
Liberate! was published by Auckland Animal Action, one of the dozens of militant organizations that suddenly coalesced in the mid-90s. While the activities of the group itself were fairly moderate, the visual direction and rhetoric of the magazine was quite extreme. In it’s era this was appropriate. In these modern days of soy milk in every cafe and vegan cheese in every supermarket, talking about cutting off the fingers of vivisectors is certainly going to frighten away an audience that is already coming around. It wasn’t very long ago, however, that the late 80’s trend of moderation in activism was a clear failure. Dialogue about violence and sabotage was a necessary component of moving forward, and it is important to note that these discussions, thankfully, didn’t result in any missing digits.
Liberate! was not particularly well written, but there are some stand out articles about the burgeoning pro-direct action grassroots, conflicts between environmentalists and animal liberationists, and some entertaining imagery as well. Also of interest, given the current Canadian “Marineland Animal Defense” campaign, are the details of New Zealand’s 90s campaign against their own Marineland.
Angels of Mercy? (1995, London, England)
In 1995 Channel 4’s Warcries news program aired Angels Of Mercy?, a 30 minute investigation into the Animal Liberation Front. The show focused primarily on Keith Mann, an ALF volunteer who was then serving England’s longest sentence for animal rights motivated arson. While most commercially funded news has a clear bias in favor of the status quo (and the channels sponsors,) Warcries was known for fairer journalism. The result in this case was a surprisingly sympathetic look at what pushes a young person to commit criminal acts on behalf of non-humans. Given developments since it first aired, it also serves as a remarkable lesson about public credibility and how difficult it is to regain once lost.
In the 1990s our movement had a variety of articulate, savvy spokespeople, and the release of Angels of Mercy? quickly made Keith Mann foremost among them. His voice-overs from a prison phone are heard over shocking footage of animal abuse, and interviews with his family and supporters act to assure the audience that he is a rational, and passionate activist to working to stop what can only be described as horrific cruelty. When Keith was later released from prison he was highly sought after as a speaker and a source for reporters. I always felt reassured when I saw his face in the news since I knew it meant that at least one positive quote would make it’s way to the public.
Sadly, in the last few years Keith has become a devotee of British new-age guru David Icke, a man who believes that a race of reptilian shape-shifters secretly controls the world, that cancer is a fungus, that some humans are actually half-dead, inter-dimensional beings, and a host of other pseudo-scientific nonsense. After being literally laughed off of television in 1991 when he wrongly predicted the end of the world, he has resurfaced in recent years as a lecturer and author with a depressing number of followers.
Since his conversion to odd-ball conspiracy theorist Keith Mann has lost much of his credibility both inside and outside the movement. Most recently he has become a holocaust denier, thereby severing his ties with many of us who still held some hope that he would come to his senses. It’s a shame, because as I watch Angels of Mercy? I am reminded of the rare power he once had to make everyday people understand direct action and animal liberation, a power whose benefit is now lost to the animal nations. It is my hope that by posting this video others will consider how desperately the animals need trustworthy advocates, and how easy it is to damage that trust.
South East Liberator (1992 – 1996. West Sussex, England)
Editors note: When we originally posted South East Liberator in 2011 we had an agreement with its primary author to keep her identity a secret until after her death. We are sad to report that Gillian Peachey, a long time animal liberationist and former ALF prisoner, has passed away this week. Now that she is no longer with us we can reveal that she was the anonymous figure behind this publication. Rest in peace, Gilly.
One of the most important things we do at TALON is to preserve the telling of our movement’s story by it’s participants. In the case of South East Liberator, we are almost preserving the story of our movement as told by the mainstream media and then copied and pasted by it’s participants. Confused? Well, South East Liberator was largely written and edited by one person who would include press clippings for major actions around the area she was active in- actions for which she was often responsible! She later ended up doing time for planting incendiary devices, which put this popular DIY publication out of business.
South East Liberator was angry, over-the-top, and compiled by front-line activists giving their all for animal liberation. We are very proud to have the complete collection hosted on our site, along with this new introduction by the editor:
“The Liberator was produced in the ‘90’s by a small group of determined animal rights activists to publicize how much could be achieved by working quietly within a close knit group, and to encourage like minded people to carry out similar actions.
Economic sabotage will always be one of the most effective ways of hitting the abusers where it hurts them most and we, along with other similar groups throughout the country, were proving this time and again.
Liberations, bombings, arson attacks, massive damage to property and vehicles and general sabotage were carried out week after week, with the cops going round in circles!
Thousands of lives were eventually saved through liberations and hellholes closing. Many many hundred of thousands of pounds worth of damage was caused along the way.
Inevitably there were arrests and imprisonment but nobody who was totally involved then, for the right reasons, would say that they had any regrets for any of their actions. Many of us are still involved in the fight for animal liberation and always will be.
Personally the only regret I have is that I’ve never done enough to save enough lives. Oh, and getting caught of course!!”