Bite Back – Issues 1-2 (1999, Bristol, England)
One of at least four publications to share the same moniker, this version of Bite Back came into being at the turn of the century. Glossy, full magazine sized, and free, Bite Back was a wonderful tool for reporting on the exciting campaigns of its era. Anyone interested in pressure campaigning will enjoy the brief articles, updates, and images from Hillgrove, Shamrock, Regal Rabbits, and Huntingdon Death Sciences.
We have very little information about this publication and do not know if there were subsequent issues. If you have more information please contact us HERE.
Action For Animals # 1 – (1989, Essex, England)
While there isn’t much stand-alone importance to this particular publication, the critical role played by grassroots newsletters in the 1980s in undeniable. Prior to the popular use of the internet local groups were run by a small core of organizers who communicated with their own membership and the broader public using these cheaply produced zines. Ideology, protest dates, campaign information, news from other organizations, fundraising efforts, and prisoner support were all shared, and with results that often dwarf what we see from Facebook based organizing.
Action for Animals produced a newsletter very typical of its era and geography. Those of you who take the time to look closer at this publication will notice excerpts from the London Greenpeace leaflet (co-written, as it turns out, by an undercover cop) that lead to the McLibel case. Also of note are AFA’s anti-capitalism sentiment, and the diversity of actions embraced by their group- from Christmas carolling to support for underground direct action.
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.
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 #1-5 (1991 – Northampton, England)
After a brief existence and quick demise in the 1980’s, the Support Animal Rights Prisoners organization was re-founded by Barry Horne and some friends in 1991. At the time Barry was imprisoned for possession of incendiary devices, but he never let incarceration keep him from participation in the movement. So, using a prison typewriter, he set to work writing the SARP newsletters. There are claims in the first issue that the material in SARP was written by a committee of five volunteers, but information we have received from reliable sources suggest that in actuality Barry wrote every issue of SARP except for the final issue, which was written by ALF Press Officer Robin Webb.
Barry was one of the most dedicated activists our struggle has ever known, but it would be a disservice to him to strip him of his humanity by pretending that he was without error. There are some poorly examined ideas in the pages of SARP that deserve measured critique, most especially that animal rights activists must, in all instances, preserve “unity.” Calls for unity are often used by those guilty of the most destabilizing behaviors as a way to avoid criticism for their own complicity in pushing people apart. During the era that SARP was being published there were concerted efforts by organized racists to join the movement, for car and postal bombings to be supported, and so on. Under such conditions total unity wouldn’t exactly be a good thing, right?
But for every weak idea presented in the pages of SARP, there are also beautiful moments that give voice to our imprisoned comrades, that remember our dead, and that call for nothing less than a revolution to liberate non-humans from the tyranny of the human species. Barry wrote with an intensity and single minded dedication that reminds us of just how precious each second spent fighting is, and how we must stop wasting those ticks of the clock. To Barry, life, and even death, should be utilized battling the scourge of speciesism. These newsletters are Barry’s voice ringing out from decades past, telling us to ACT NOW in solidarity with the animal nations.
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.
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.
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.