BUAV Liberator (1986. London, England)
“Although the BUAV as a limited company can only organize legal activity, we aim to complement and support direct action whenever possible.” BUAV editorial, April-May 1986
Frequent readers of the site will be aware that TALON’s volunteers are big fans of the BUAV Liberator. Not only do its old pulp pages bleed with animal lib history, but the politics represented by BUAV at that time were among the most progressive (and occasionally radical) of any major national non-profit working for non-humans.
During this era the British Union to Abolish Vivisection supported any direct action which did not include pre-meditated violence towards a human, and proudly advocated a broad array of strategies and tactics. From letter writing to sabotage, legislation to arson, the BUAV gave coverage to nearly all of the activism in England at the time- and that is only a small part of what makes these papers so great.
Year after year, each volume of the Liberator gives us clues as to the mood within the movement. In 1986 for example, we see a somber tone set over the movement as the Liberation League’s began to fold, the government passed legislation expanding vivisection, and dozens of activists began prison sentences over lab raids. This blow to activist morale in 1986 was perhaps most visible in the actions of Robert Blackman, a young man who entered the Colchester cattle market and self immolated to protest the sell of living beings. His mother later said that “He gave his life because he thought the cruelty would never stop.”
Interestingly, 1986 was also a year filled with inspiring actions for animals. Issue after issue details labs shut down, vivisectors ending their careers, a dramatic rise in veganism and vegetarianism among the general public, and non-humans having their first taste of freedom. It is only within the context of the meteoric rise of animal rights in the earlier part of the 1980s could this year be seen as any kind of a failure. Indeed, if the level of activism in these issues were to occur today morale would sky rocket and great breakthroughs could be made- and all of us should take that as a challenge!
TURNING POINT – Issues 5-6 (1986-1987, Oxford, UK)
After a brief run as “Black Beast,” Turning Point emerged as England’s foremost animal rights publication in 1986. Featuring first hand accounts of direct action, a decent analysis of systemic animal abuse, and a willingness to be controversial, Turning Point documented all of the major animal liberation events of its era.
Issues #5 and #6 give coverage to mainstream media distortions of AR activism, CALL’s brilliant raids of Park Farm, ALF strikes across England (Including the liberation of three otters!) and so much more. There is even a brief mention of the Farm Freedom Fighters, the first group to raid a factory farm in the United States. Interestingly, their media relations were handled by none other than Farm Sanctuary.
These two volumes are markedly better than the Black Beast issues that preceded them, and all of us at TALON are excited to finally preserve them in our archive.
BLACK BEAST – Issues 2 & 3 (1985-1986, Oxford, UK)
Taking it’s name from the french term “bête noire,” Black Beast ran for 3 issues before changing it’s title to Turning Point.
Black Beast covered all aspects of animal liberation protest and resistance, from sign holding demonstrations, to lab raids, alongside investigations into various abuses of non-humans. It’s politics were pro-direct action, but anti-militarism, and editorials inside criticized groups like the Animal Rights Militia. Articles were published without bylines, and every aspect of the magazine was anonymous. This made it an attractive forum for groups like the Central Animal Liberation League, who sent in a first hand account of the infamous Park Farm raid at Oxford that freed 32 dogs. One issue even contains an interview with a pre-off-the-deep-end Gary Francione detailing his support for the Animal Liberation Front!
The magazine was well written, nicely produced, and also very rare! TALON is seeking a copy of issue #1. If you can share one with us, please contact us HERE.
Animal Liberation: The Movie (1992, England)
An early and wonderful example of DIY video production and anonymous distribution, Animal Liberation: The Movie was brought to the US by Freeman Wicklund in the early 90s. Often sold on the same tape as the moving Kieth Mann documentary “Angels of Mercy,” it quickly became a must have in the video collection of activists everywhere.
Documenting the high-water mark of daylight raids, department store arson, hunt sabotage, and undercover investigations in England, this sub-rosa video remains one of the best catalogs of direct action in the 80s and early 90s.