animal liberationists, it is important to recognize that, in society's eyes, we
support terrorism. Of course our actions and those of the A.L.F. have never resulted
in even one injury let alone death, yet the Department of Justice labels the A.L.F.
as a domestic terrorist organization. The laws of the land have decided that private
property shall take precedence over life and, as such, any actions to preserve
life are likely to be deemed criminal.
Feds Cry "Terrorism"
is not something unique to the animal liberation movement. Ploughshares activists,
many of whom are Catholic priests, for many years have attacked the equipment
of the U.S. military death machine whose sole intent is killing people and, as
a result, have served long prison sentences. Earth First! activists, whose only
targets were ski-lifts and powerlines serving mines and pump stations, were infiltrated
for two years by an FBI agent who then busted them in the act of cutting down
a powerline in Arizona in 1989.
All of this means that the nonviolent actions
we participate in and support are likely to be viewed by the federal government
as the work of extremists who may employ terrorism to achieve their goals. Of
course, this same charge has historically applied to America's colonialist, anti-slavery
advocates, African American community organizers, American Indian Movement members,
anti-Vietnam war activists and now us. And, as proven in 1973 in Wounded Knee,
South Dakota, the U.S. federal law enforcement community and military forces are
prepared and willing to use deadly force to stop their own citizens they deemed
as enemies of the state. Now, we can argue till we're blue in the face that we're
not real terrorists and those in the labs, slaughterhouses, fur farms, hunting
blinds, factory farms, military and police forces are; but our voices matter little
to the big money interests who place politicians, the police and judges in power
- those who just so happen to be the very same people we oppose. The pharmaceutical,
medical, agricultural/"food," military, timber, mining and petrol chemical
industries control the courts, Congress and the media, so it's best if we just
recognize the likelihood of our beliefs being criminalized and prepare for the
government repression which has already began.
first encounter with the FBI was in 1988 after the A.L.F. and Animal Rights Militia
(ARM) had firebombed a veal processor, a slaughterhouse, a poultry plant and a
butcher shop in Santa Clara County, California. FBI agents wanted to speak with
me because of the obvious escalation in illegal animal liberation activities,
my history with Sea Shepherd and my arrest in Canada for A.L.F. smash attacks.
first mistake was just talking to the FBI. I felt I had nothing to hide. The agent
was cordial and simply asked if I had been approached by the A.L.F. or ARM, asking
to be recruited or to be their spokesperson. I said no. But, as I was willing
to talk, his calls persisted. Finally, he asked me to come down to his office
and tell him about Sea Shepherd's 1986 raid on the Icelandic whaling industry
- an action for which I had accepted personal responsibility.
The FBI agent
said that Iceland was soon to file an extradition application and that it would
be in my best interest to cooperate. He asserted that if I didn't cooperate, the
FBI would be forced to arrest me if the extradition order was granted. The agent
also said that if I made a signed statement, it would help to show the courts
that I was cooperative, which would help me should I be officially charged.
With the Feds
I called his bluff and refused and never heard from him
again. I now realize that, had I made the official statement he was requesting,
it would have been used against me in the grand jury proceedings when federal
prosecutors were trying to convince jurors that I was a criminal. What might appear
as a harmless confirmation of a publicly known fact can easily haunt you in the
future as a sworn statement made to a federal agent. That is why we should never
speak to the FBI.
In 1989, I was contacted again by the FBI who asked me
point-blank what I knew about the A.L.F.. I told the agent to either present a
subpoena or a warrant. He asked where I could be served a subpoena; I gave him
my address and never heard from him again.
When you know your right to remain
silent, you make the FBI's job ten times harder. In 1990 the FBI approached my
parents. They were accompanied by a man who my mom said "looked just like
one of your friends, with long hair and a beard." The agents showed my mother
photos of activists and asked if she had seen any of them hanging around with
me. The FBI said the activists were suspects in the firebombing of an army recruitment
center. They asked that I contact them, which I did in the hopes that by seeing
the photos, I could then warn the activists that they were under surveillance.
I realized it was a stupid idea to try to beat the FBI at their own game, I canceled
my meeting with them. Likewise, no activists should feel they can gain information
by talking with the FBI. The moment you begin talking to the FBI, the more they
will approach you, knowing you will talk. There will always be two agents, as
one is trained in asking questions while the other will evaluate your body language
for subliminal messages as to which subjects you are comfortable discussing and
which ones trouble you. So even though you may say nothing, the FBI are still
able to gather intelligence.
Narcs Among Us
In 1990, the Earth
Night Action Group toppled powerlines from a coal-fired power plant and the FBI
was swarming Northern California. They were successful in pressuring the former
girlfriend of an animal rights activist into being wired with a recording device
to try to gather information from other activists about the sabotage. That is
why activists should never openly speculate as to who might have done what action
both in person or on the phone, as we are only doing the FBI's job for them.
the FBI has associated a particular illegal act with a political idealism or cause,
then the way is paved for surveillance, wire-taps, grand jury subpoenas and other
forms of governmental repression of the individuals or groups associated with
that cause. Once again, we can be outraged at this and scream bloody murder that
our civil rights are being violated but, in doing so, it's not going to change
a damn thing.
We either can accept that the A.L.F., animal liberation and
earth defense in general, are major targets for police repression and act accordingly,
or we can go back to supporting only the ineffective tactics controlled and allowed
by our opposition. But, there is no room in any legitimate, illegal, direct action
struggle for those who want to be seen as militants who talk the talk but don't
walk the walk. Those are the people who bring down the heat yet can't stand the
fire. Prove to the animals and the earth where your heart lies and to no other.
Target Visible Warriors
Later in 1990, two Earth First! organizers were
the targets of a car-bomb. Following the assassination attempt, the two victims
themselves were accused of transporting explosives and, while the real bombers
went free, myself and many other Northern California activists began to be questioned
and put under police surveillance. During this time, Santa Cruz County was seen
in the government's eyes as "a breeding ground for eco-terrorists."
sympathetic reporter even told us of seeing "an eco-terrorist's flow chart"
in the Sheriff's Department, listing as "eco-terrorists," any activists
who had been arrested for civil disobedience. No evidence of actual criminal involvement
was necessary; just the willingness to get arrested for earth defense and animal
liberation was enough for you to be seen as a potential terrorist. There is every
reason to believe that when investigating A.L.F. activities, the FBI first surveys
activists with CD arrest records.
The FBI sees it as a logical progression
that one will first protest, do CD and then commit illegal direct action. I have
seen A.L.F. activists who never had any encounters with law enforcement officials
nor even had their names mentioned by the FBI, all because they never went to
demos and never did CD.
In 1991, A.L.F. actions
moved to the Northwest and with them the FBI's focus on animal liberation investigations.
Grand juries were convened in Oregon and Washington to investigate arson attacks
on fur industry targets. At this time, the Coalition Against Fur Farms (CAFF)
and PETA were the only organizations speaking out in defense of the A.L.F. and,
as a result, made easy targets for the FBI. The FBI repression of the animal rights
movement from 1987 to 1991 had the chilling effect of silencing previously vocal
supporters of the A.L.F..
In this way, the
A.L.F. was abandoned by all but a few. Where in the past it had become popular
to support the A.L.F. - now, with the price of that support being FBI harassment,
the A.L.F. was left with few to defend their actions to the movement and media.
frustrated me the most during this time (while I both participated in A.L.F. actions
and publicly defended them), was the fact that other activists would whisper to
me their support yet were afraid to pen an article about the A.L.F. and their
anti-fur farm raids, let alone participate or offer physical or financial support.
must be said that, for all the criticisms I've heard about PETA, they at least
were not afraid to voice public support for the A.L.F. and report A.L.F. raids
in their newsletters and to the media. And, when activists were subpoenaed to
the grand juries, PETA offered financial and legal support where others had failed.
the coordinator for CAFF, I wrote numerous articles for the Animal's Voice and
the Earth First! Journal about the A.L.F.'s recent raids. I also gave media interviews
much in the same fashion as SOAR and CAFT now does.
these actions, the FBI's focus shifted to me. Had a wider body of vocal and visible
support been evident for the A.L.F. during 1991, I might have been able to last
longer as an A.L.F. activist. Had more activists been aware of their rights and
not been afraid of the FBI, especially when they themselves were not even guilty
of any crimes, the government would have seen widespread support for the A.L.F.
and not known where to begin its investigations.
I'll be the first to admit
that, as an A.L.F. activist, I should have been the last person to publicly defend
them and their actions. But with the evidence we had gathered over the last year
of fur farm animal abuse and with A.L.F. attacks on that same industry, I felt
it was necessary for someone to explain the A.L.F.'s actions and not miss an opportunity
to strike an additional blow to the fur industry through the media.
Terrorize Family, Friends
By fall of 1991, the FBI had returned to my
parents home and work, accusing me of being an A.L.F. member and telling them
that I was working with explosives. The FBI tried to intimidate my family into
cooperating by telling them that I needed to be stopped before someone was injured
or killed. By this time, the FBI had realized that I myself would not talk with
them. They began to focus pressure on my family, friends, and former girlfriend.
the beginning of 1992, the FBI upgraded its A.L.F. investigations when a package,
containing stolen records from a mink research lab that had been torched, was
intercepted. The package was addressed to the house of a former PETA employee.
When a search warrant was executed night-vision goggles, radios, balaclavas and
maps of labs in Louisiana were found.
It had always been known that if the
FBI could make a connection between the A.L.F. and PETA, they could be destroyed
by Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Orginazations (RICO) laws. The government was
already planning on charging the A.L.F. under the RICO law as it also covers arson,
interstate transportation and organizing the committing of a crime. This was and
probably still is one of the goals of the FBI.
Feds Close In
I watched as friends and other activists were served subpoenas, and PETA was targeted
for their alleged association with the A.L.F., the rest of the animal rights movement
began to waver. Individuals and groups saw what was happening to vocal supporters
of the A.L.F. and chose to remain silent.
One individual who was subpoenaed
to the grand jury told me that the questions asked were solely about me. One by
one, CAFF activists were harassed and subpoenaed, as well as former roommates,
journalists who had interviewed me and Earth First! activists. Certain activists
were threatened with having their children taken from them by the FBI and, in
southern Oregon, a former home of mine was raided with a helicopter by the FBI
and ATF, despite the fact that the Feds had been saying that I was only a "person
of interest" and not the subject of an arrest warrant. An activist who had
purchased my car was subpoenaed and harassed and the marine mammal protection
ship, "Sea Shepherd," was raided by the FBI and ATF and twice by U.S.
Customs when it was suspected I was aboard.
The Pressure Mounts
from what happened to me, what was most despicable was the treatment of activists'
parents and families who were targets of grand juries:
- One family I
had visited in Michigan was specifically targeted. A family friend, with whom
we had dinner, was approached by the FBI and told that if he was able to get an
activist to speak a suspect's full name (only the suspect's first name was known)
on the telephone, the Feds would pay his police academy tuition. He refused.
sister-in-law of a suspect was approached at her work and told that if she helped
the FBI she would be eligible for a $35,000 reward. She refused.
FBI staked out the church where an activist's father ministered and, at one point,
threatened the church's secretary with imprisonment, accusing the church of hiding
Non-Cooperation: Our Best Defense
angered the FBI most was the stubbornness of people they tried to question. Individual
activists' families and friends complicated the FBI's job by refusing to answer
any questions without a subpoena. My parents were targeted by a particularly vile
agent who stopped by their house to show them my wanted poster and to tell them
that, if they really loved me, they would tell him where I was before some fur
farmer or local cop shot me.
Another time, the FBI arrested a Guatamalan
refugee who worked for my family, handcuffing him and dragging him downtown. When
my father protested, the FBI released him, apologizing that they had mistakenly
thought he was me. Later it was discovered that when my parents were away on vacation,
their house was broken into and a floor plan was drawn up for future surveillance.
when my mother was served with a subpoena to the grand jury, she answered her
door telling the agent she wouldn't talk to him because she was already taking
medication for the stress they were causing. The agent replied, "This ought
to help your stress," and handed her a subpoena.
By tracing phone records
from calls I had made with a credit card, one by one, the FBI questioned everyone
with whom I had come in contact. Of course, the attention directed on me was in
a large part due to the fact that I was the subject of a grand jury investigation,
rather than someone subpoenaed to testify.
To this day, I have never been
questioned by the FBI or a grand jury. Those who were called to testify either
answered a few simple questions and were granted immunity from prosecution or
refused to testify. By the time of my arrest in 1994, four people had spent between
five and six months in jail for refusing to testify. Meanwhile I avoided more
close calls with the FBI.
In one particularly chilling
incident, activists visited me in one of my hideouts. I had instructed them not
to drive their own vehicle for fear that a satellite tracking device might be
placed on the vehicle, as one activist was a known acquaintance of mine.
activists met me at a previously agreed location, driving their own vehicle. We
left the vehicle 30 miles from where I was staying, my anger overtaken by my joy
at seeing a friend. When we picked up the vehicle a few days later, I instructed
the driver to follow me at a distance and maintain an open channel on our radios.
gassed up at different gas stations. But, as we were leaving a small town, I noticed
a late-model American car in perfect condition but with mud splattered all over
it. The car was backed into a road bank; I recognized it as one of the few cars
to have passed us in the small town where we had gassed up. I radioed my friend
about it and instructed them to meet us at a pre-arranged destination. When they
did ,they were frantic because they had surprised that same car who had pulled
off the road at another location, with the lights off.
The area where we
met was very remote and, as we talked, we could see the approaching headlights
of the car behind us; the lights went off before the car reached us. It is my
conclusion that, with the aid of a satellite tracking device, the FBI were using
my friend as bait to lead them to me while I was on the run.
Two things are required by any movement sincere
about its attempts to sustain an underground resistance. The first is a structure
to support those warriors who choose to live life in the underground away from
all above-ground politics and who can be supported financially and morally by
their legal counterparts. Every legitimate revolutionary struggle has this structure.
other requirement is the uniform recognition by above-ground supporters that one
must refuse to speak about other activists to any law enforcement agency. Of equal
importance is an understanding and acceptance to never speculate over the phone
or computer as to who might be an A.L.F. member or how you heard so-and-so talking
to so-and-so about how he or she wanted to strike a particular animal abuse target.
must remember that the consequences of such actions could easily result in your
own subpoenaing to a grand jury or, even worse, your targeting by the grand jury,
as well as endangering other activists. Speaking with law enforcement officials
can provide investigators with enough information to obtain search warrants and
authorization for phone- and wire-taps. All these things are made much easier
to obtain in light of President Clinton's recent signing of "anti-terrorism"
A grand jury will be convened to gather information with the
hopes of presenting enough evidence to issue an indictment. In the case of A.L.F.
actions, a grand jury will attempt to prove a suspect's association with animal
rights and then, hopefully, use testimony from various sources to prove that there
is reasonable cause to believe an individual committed a crime. Articles, letters,
press releases and statements all can be used against you. It is your job to prove
your innocence rather than their responsibility to prove your guilt. Standard
statements of support of A.L.F. actions can be seen by the usual conservative
grand jurors as incriminating. All this should not intimidate you away from supporting
or joining the A.L.F. - just be careful of what you say and be even more careful
about what you do.
My own situation may seem grim, but considering that
after five Federal grand juries that lasted over four years, subpoenaed over 70
individuals and investigated six major A.L.F. raids, the fact that I was the only
activist indicted and only received four and one-half years - I believe it shows
that we did pretty good. And my indictment would have not been possible had it
not been for preventible mistakes I made which resulted in providing the Feds
with physical evidence.
Stand Strong, Speak Up, Act
are to be a vocal A.L.F. supporter, turn the tables on interviewers or editors.
When doing interviews or writing letters to the editor, refuse to acknowledge
A.L.F. actions as violent or terrorist. I often respond with the question that
if the media and police are so concerned with violence and terrorism, why not
ask the same questions to those who operate in the light of day with human blood
on their hands like the ATF, FBI, U.S. military, police and arms manufacturers.
That usually shuts them up.
We cannot let the FBI or anyone else intimidate
us away from supporting actions which cause no harm, yet save countless lives.
All that is necessary is that we educate ourselves with the intimidation tactics
of our opposition and familiarize ourselves with what few rights we have left.
Remember that there is nothing illegal about opposing government and police repression
of our movement or any other that fights for peace and justice.
of Rights guarantees our obligation to overthrow any government of our own that
no longer respects the rights of its citizens. It is important that we learn the
lessons that our counterparts in Britain have learned. Despite major police repression,
the A.L.F. continues to be a force to be reckoned with in the U.K. All that prevents
us from creating the same in the U.S. is our degree of willingness to take greater
personal responsibility, overcome our fears and sacrifice a little bit of our
own comfort and freedom.
Just remember: whatever we go through, and I say
this even as someone who must sit in prison for four years, that whatever we as
First World human beings go through in courts, jails or prisons, it is little
compared to what political activists in other countries endure to fight for their
beliefs. It is also nothing compared to the animals whose freedom lies in our
The FBI, ATF, police and corporations are the ones with blood
on their hands and they try to intimidate us with harassment, injury, imprisonment
or death. What is most fearful is doing nothing as our one earth and her animal
children are ruthlessly exploited and destroyed. Remember that and good luck!