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.
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.