Facklan (1996-1997 Umea, Sweden)
(Editors note: Facklan is a Swedish language publication that we bring to you due to its historical significance. Umea, Sweden produced one of the most remarkable animal liberation communities of the 1990s. Their influence was so strong that politicians in Sweden stated in national media that they feared animal rightists may collapse the countries infrastructure, both through sabotage and the conversion of the nations youth to veganism. Facklan was produced during the infancy of this tiny, but formidable uprising. One of our readers from Sweden has offered the summary that follows.)
Facklan (The Torch) was a Swedish magazine supporting the A.L.F. and
other radical groups fighting for the animals. It was released in four
issues in 1996-1997, during the biggest peak of A.L.F. activity in the
1990:ies in Sweden. The magazine was based in the northern city Umea,
which was well known for it’s number of vegans and animal rights
activists, militant (all fur shops closed in Umea as a result of the
A.L.F.) as well as non militant (almost 50 percent of the students at
some schools were vegetarians). Umea was often referred to as the
“Vegan Mecca”, and was also well known for bands promoting the animal
rights message, such as Refused.
The first issue contained translated interviews etc from mainly UK and
US sources, and also had copied text from the Swedish militant
activist/anarchist manual Lila Svarta. Of course there was also a
diary of actions and addresses to imprisoned animal rights activists.
Two spreads were also dedicated to show mainstream media articles from
the time, also serving as a sign of the impact of the A.L.F. activity.
During the later issues, more of the content was produced by Swedish
authors. In the second issue, there were a lot of more news from
Sweden and Finland, letters to the editor, communiques from the newly
started group The Wild Minks, a report from the riot against the fur
auction in Skara, a piece on the repression of Umea acitivists,
reviews of records under the headline “Activist Core”, and now also a
diary of actions focusing on Sweden. Content from abroad was still
used though, this time information from The Final Nail and on Barry
Horne. On the last page, a summary in English was also published for
the foreign readers.
The third issue contained an exclusive interview with The Wild Minks,
the group that got most feared among the fur farmers, for liberating
minks and setting fire to properties of the fur industry. An address
list to all Swedish fur farms was published together with slogans such
as “What are you waiting for?”. There were critical articles directed
to hardcore posers, as well as articles about how animals that had
been liberated were doing in their new homes.
The fourth and the last issue contained more articles like “How the
Raid was Done” – often raids that the police had said were so
professional it had to have been carried out by professionals from
abroad… One person urges for a Swedish A.L.F. Supporters Group, and
a spokesperson who could defend the actions openly. Til now, this had
only been done my anonymous activists in balaclavas, or by Emelie
E:son, an anonymous A.L.F. activist from the 1980:ies. Focus was also
targeted on groups trying to attack Peter Singer (who was at a visit
in Sweden during this period), there was a big report from the animal
rights campaigning and activity against the vivisection at the Umea
University, as well as more information directly from The Wild Minks.
After the last issue, a Swedish A.L.F. Supporters Group was founded,
doing both work towards the media as towards prisoners and the animal
rights movement in general. They also released their own magazine,
later named Befriaren (The Liberator).
Random clips (1996 and 1998, various locations.)
Speciesism is so entrenched that your average person sees nothing wrong with the anal electrocution of a mink in order to steal their fur. This same person, however, will scream bloody murder over an empty building being set alight to prevent such torture. Our society habitually denounces those who resist our everyday cruelties, until somehow logic manages to penetrate and suddenly the rebels are seen as being right all along. At one point in the United States the majority of (invading European) citizens saw nothing wrong with human slavery, and newspapers shouted their outrage over slave revolts, the underground railroad, and the burning of auction blocks that sold thousands of people into bondage. Through the efforts of generations of abolitionists, however, the tide was eventually turned, and none of those aforementioned papers would now dream of supporting the slave trade. The rebels who were hated by the public, who were jailed and hanged and ridiculed to the delight of the media, are now seen as heroes.
There are, of course, very real differences between the movements to end human and non-human slavery, but the role of the media has remained very much the same. Luckily our movement has had, from time to time, articulate spokespeople who can explain why direct action is taken on behalf of animals. In the 1990s Freeman Wicklund, then the publisher of No Compromise magazine, would act as a press liaison in order to explain the motives of the underground. Later, Katie Fedor would start the North American Animal Liberation Front Press Office. Working closely with former ALF prisoners and the Canadian SG, she appeared regularly on television defending the actions of anonymous saboteurs. (As an interesting side note, Kevin Kjonaas once interned for Katie’s press office, and actually received college credits for defending the ALF!)
We present here several news clips featuring Freeman and Katie in the 90s doing one of the hardest jobs a good press officer must do: defending the use of arson to save animals.
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.
Underground 14-15 (1999, Ontario, Canada)
The turn of the century was an odd time in the world of radical politics. The remnants of the mid-90s militants grassroots were fading away, and those still loyal began to look to England for signs of hope. In Eugene, an odd coalition of old school forest activists, crusties, anarchists, and even some members of the old left were rapidly embracing a philosophy critical of civilization, leftism, and pacifism. People all over the globe were beginning to talk about the specter of global trade agreements, and everyone began planning for the World Trade Organization meetings in the northwest, where arsons, lab raids, and whale hunt sabotages were already rampant. Everywhere there was a sense that the old politics were dying, and that something new was right around the corner.
Underground reflected some of this feeling, but production delays, staff turnover, and the rapid loss of its old writers meant that only 2 short issues were produced this year. Some great history was documented in these pages, but sadly much was left uncovered. These two issues should be thought of as an incomplete sampling of just some of what ’99 brought the world.
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.