No Compromise 23-26 (2004, Santa Cruz / San Francisco, CA)
One of the lessons that archiving old animal liberation publications has taught me is that the most extreme actions have rarely produced much in the way of results for animals. A public that already sees veganism as odd might still see the value of rescuing animals from a laboratory, but will never support a car bombing. When innocents are injured, or when murder was the goal, the backlash starts to creep into our own ranks, and as we fracture law enforcement and industry groups take advantage. In the end, I can think of no bombing (or contamination, or grave robbing, etc.) which advanced the cause of animal rights more than it harmed it. This is not to say that bombings and the like could never be successful. At later stages of many revolutionary struggles, when the majority of the public supports the cause, bombs can clear away in one night what years of protest could not. While a movement is in its infancy, however, it could be argued that more often than not bombs blow up in our faces.
And so it was in 2004 when a group calling itself the Revolutionary Cells Animal Liberation Brigade carried out two bombings of HLS related targets in California. The movement was left to make lemonade from truly shitty lemons, and No Compromise did their best to mitigate the harm of the actions while keeping activists focused on the real enemy.
The year continued with the indictment of the SHAC 7, the emergence of Austria as a leader in the movement, and some exciting open rescues. Sarahjane Blum and Ryan Shapiro’s organization, GourmetCruelty.com, carried out one such operation that piqued public interest and eventually resulted in a sympathetic program on Animal Planet. Elsewhere Gina Lynn was imprisoned for defying the Seattle grand jury, Billy Cottrell was arrested for a massive SUV dealership arson, and the Universtiy of Iowa was treated to the most sophisticated lab raid to occur since the early 90s.
Every time we post a year of No Compromise we say the same thing: that this is essential reading for those who wish to understand the recent history of our movement. This posting is no exception. No Compromise was the best AR publication of its era, and 2004 saw the publication refining its strengths and providing their readers with four of the best issues yet.
No Compromise #20-22 (2003. Santa Cruz / San Francisco, CA)
No Comp scored another great year in 2003, this time by going deeper into practical instructions for campaigning, and also by examining the smaller stories in greater detail. While the high profile victories of anti-HLS activists were given their due, inspirational figures who had passed on were also given touching coverage. Issue #20 features articles on early Band of Mercy and Animal Liberation Front founder Sue Smith, and Sweden’s animal lib die-hard, Ake Soderlund. Similar examinations of our past, and the courageous figures whose shoulders we stand upon, pepper the 2003 issues. Of particular note is the article on Henry Hutto in issue #21.
2003 was also the year that Rod Coronado finally got off of probation and was allowed to participate in the movement again. His writings for No Compromise were as subversive and inspiring as ever, and it is easy to see why the government considered him such a threat.
As the year progressed No Comp moved to a magazine format and tightened their graphic design skills in response to Jake Conroy’s work on the SHAC USA newsletter. These glossy issues were excellent contributions to the movement, and it is a shame that in only a few more years NC would cease to exist altogether. These information (and inspiration!) packed issues are worth reading again to inform and encourage our current actions.
No Compromise #15,16, 17 (2000-2001, Santa Cruz, CA.)
I want to preface this post with this: The turn of the century was an epic time to be alive and fighting! Between the WTO riots, a huge upsurge in ALF attacks on the West Coast, some inspiring support of grand jury resisters, and the migration of the SHAC campaign to the United States, there were also thousands upon thousands of other actions across the planet. It was hard to keep up with all of the news because it seemed that people everywhere had finally taken enough and were beginning a counter strike for non-humans, wilderness, and human freedom. Luckily, No Compromise kept track of most of the action, and produced three excellent issues during this incredible year of revolt. Beyond the coverage of the latest direct actions, attention was also paid to our past successes and failures- and all animal activists would do well to read issue #16’s “Blast From The Past” article about lab raids in the 1980s.
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.
Why You Gotta Bring Up Old Shit?
Yesterday Humane Watch, an industry AstroTurf front monitoring HSUS, posted a piece linking to our archive of Do Not Consider Yourself Free. In their typically comical fashion the group attempts to tie Pat Kwan, the Humane Society’s New York director, to “terrorism” based on his work with Animal Defense League New York and an old arrest in Massachusetts. Not mentioned in the article is the fact that Kwan was not convicted in the Mass case, that his activism with ADL NYC took place in his early teenage years, or that the change of heart he had with his later activism was criticized by the very radicals that Humane Watch attempts to tie him to. Similar obfuscations are peppered throughout the blog, but such behavior can be expected of people who publicly defend un-anesthetized castration, intensive confinement, debeaking, and other acts of brutality against non-humans.
Because this article made the rounds on social media and stirred up a fair amount of commentary the staff of TALON would like to respond to some of the points raised by our friends in the movement.
First, some readers of the article were upset that TALON makes such material available to begin with, others have asked that we remove it. For the record, TALON will never omit a piece of our movement’s history from it’s archives. The changing path taken by some activists is an important part of our struggle, and it can inform current and future tactical choices. While a person may not remain forever proud of the politics of their youth you cannot remake the past by simply erasing old articles. A better path would be to explain the reasons you altered your course, and if anything the Humane Watch article gives apologetic ex-militants the perfect opportunity to do so. Our opponents will call those explanations insincere, but they will call you whatever they are paid to regardless of the truth.
Second, a few people mocked what they saw as the “selling out” of 90s era grassroots radicals who now work for groups like PETA and HSUS. Those of us who have been around for a while have seen the departure of hundreds and hundreds of once staunchly aggressive activists who now do nothing at all for non-humans. That is selling out. Our friends who carry on the fight, even when we don’t see eye to eye on tactics, should be admired for their longevity instead of harangued for thinking differently. The staff of TALON believe that there is a need for underground, illegal strategies in furtherance of animal liberation, but we are not a cult. Our strength lies in a diversity of thought, action and scale, not in the lockstep marching of cloned henchmen. We find it regrettable that some good activists now disapprove of groups like the Animal Liberation Front, but we love our comrades regardless and recognize them as dedicated allies in this struggle.
Our cause is already weakened by deep factionalism, to let groups like Humane Watch drive further wedges between us is counter productive to the goal that we all share regardless of group affiliation or tactical preference: an end to domination of all life on earth by a single species. Reaching that goal will require a broadening of our coalitions and a minimizing of internal conflict.