S.A.R.P. Newsletter #12-15 (1993 – Northampton, England)
Only a few short years after reforming Support Animal Rights Prisoners, the contributors to the project (primarily Barry Horne) threw in the towel. Their raison d’être was being fulfilled by the ALF SG newsletters, and Barry felt as if the group wasn’t having the unifying, inspirational impact that he had hoped for. The final issue, mostly written by press officer Robin Webb, starts off light and positive, but ends with an angry missive from Horne accusing most activists of being mere radical t-shirt collectors rather than actual radicals. Across the span of decades and beyond even his own death, this stab at those unwilling to fight for liberation still hits its mark. It is a sad ending to an information packed publication, but not every issue of this last year of SARP is so intense. Tiny fragments of our history fall off these pages like gold dust- collect them together and you have a treasure. Barry might have died on hunger strike, but he did not leave us behind. His words and actions will continue to remind us where we came from, and for whom we fight. Rest in peace, comrade, and thank you for all you have given us…
S.A.R.P. Newsletter #6-11 (1992 – Northampton, England)
One of the big frustrations of working on the TALON site is that the materials we archive contain so much information it becomes difficult to organize and contextualize it all. Our posting of the Barry Horne SARP newsletter revival has made this sense of frustration more distinct than ever.
1992 was an eventful year for the movement: Mike Hill was murdered by hunter Alan Summersgill, the Doddlestone six were arrested protesting that murder, in North America Darren Thurston was arrested, Ronnie Lee was released, Kieth Mann was on remand and just about to escape from prison… This is just the tip of the iceberg as far as the significant events that took place over twelve long months twenty one years passed. We could spend pages discussing how these incidents shaped the future, how recent revelations about police informants in the UK have changed our understanding of old arrests, and so on. Unfortunately there is no time to pull at all of these strings- but the SARP newsletters certainly will provide inquisitive readers with many threads of their own to pull. From details of Operation Fox to “Laugh Along with the ALF,” each newsletter if filled with intriguing bits of our collective history.
No Compromise #29-30 (2006. Santa Cruz / San Francisco, CA)
The early days of my activism were so exciting. After a lifetime of feeling powerless I suddenly discovered that there was a community dedicated to fighting the good fight. Its members were in every major city and many smaller ones, and sometimes not living in any city at all, but in trees and encampments. The people involved were empowered to act for themselves in order to create a better world, and had abandoned all the false hope of political parties and their dead politics. Words meant little, action was what counted, and the sky was the limit. The internet was not yet in wide use, and thank goodness! That meant that we met each other in conference rooms, in squats, on the streets, and sometimes on the pages of No Compromise magazine.
No Compromise shaped who I am today. Each new issue contained articles that helped me and thousands of others to evolve our own style of resistance, and as our experience grew we were able to share our stories in the pages of the magazine.
After 30 issues, the steering committee of No Compromise decided to stop publishing in 2006. Their decision could not have come at a worse time. With the SHAC website and newsletter killed by the convictions of the SHAC 7, Bite Back being published only sporadically and with a limited focus, and the Earth First! Journal mired in its “Confronting Oppression Within” drama, the sudden absence of No Compromise meant that the primary sources for radical animal liberation news, opinion, and strategy were the twin sewers of online social networks and the North American Animal Liberation Press Office. These were dark times for our movement, and we are only just beginning to recover.
The final issues of No Compromise were the best of the series, though! I was in prison when issue 30 was released, and it felt electric in my hands. I read it over and over, alternately laughing and crying. As I was putting this post together I decided to pull out that print copy. It gave me the same sense of awe I had when I read those first issues. More than that, it reminded me that there is still a community of people capable of changing the world through compassionate direct action and mutual aid. And you know what? We are going to win!
(The complete set of all past issues of No Compromise can be found HERE)
Arkangel #8-9 (1992. London, England.)
After serious problems with police raids and repression, Arkangel managed to produce two issues in 1992. The focus of the magazine was still the networking of local grassroots organizations and opinion pieces by members of the movement, but some wonderful morsels of history pop up between these covers. Beyond the charm of finding out where the graphics that we’ve been reprinting forever come from, you will also learn about the early days of the McLibel case, how the British government prepared for Ronnie Lee’s release from prison, and many other interesting tidbits.
What was of greatest interest to me, however, was a short article in issue #9 written by Sue Smith. Sue is an unsung hero of the animal liberation movement, one of the founders of the Band of Mercy, and an original ALF activist. She was never caught for illegal activity, and it was only after her death that her participation in direct action became known. There is little written about her, but her brief article gives us a tiny sense of her level of compassion and concern. If any of our readers have more information about Ms. Smith, please contact us.
Animal Info #1-8 (1995-1996. Christchurch, New Zealand)
Animal Info was a thin, photocopied newsletter that was published with the hopes of increasing the militancy of New Zealand’s animal activists. It’s pages contained news relevant to local campaigns, alongside the home addresses and phone numbers of various animal abusers. The zine’s rhetoric was, at times, over the top and even once racially insensitive. Issue #1 contains an N-bomb on the front page that was seemingly intended to make an anti-racist / speciesist point, but instead has the exact opposite effect.
Still, Animal Info is an inspiring example of committed activists organizing on a grassroots level and agitating for greater commitment in the struggle against speciesism. It’s international news coverage was impressive given the magazines small number of pages, and nicely bridges the U.S. coverage lapse between the time Open the Cages stopped publication and No Compromise began. All of us at CG would love to see this type of paper return to regional organizing in the United States and abroad.
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.
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.