In the Spirit of Resistance
from No Compromise Issue 22

By Rod Coronado

I’d like to believe that our resistance to animal abuse and the destruction of the natural world will bring about great change, but it stopped being about that for me a long time ago. Maybe it stopped while I was a prisoner for four years for torching that fur farm, or maybe it stopped this past spring when I watched sheriff’s deputies draw their nightsticks to protect chainsaw-toting thugs cutting thousand-year-old redwood trees.

The point is, I don’t necessarily believe that I’m going to see the end of the fur trade, vivisection or even war in my time, let alone the ushering in of a vegan society, but that’s OK. What resistance means to me is simply that – resistance. Physical resistance to the destruction of all life on planet Earth is our obligation.

Someone recently asked me how, as a father of a young child, I could continue to take risks that might lead to imprisonment. As painful as it would be to be separated from my son, the pain of realization that comes from doing nothing against the greatest crimes of our time would be much worse. It would be a crime in and of itself to do nothing and to leave the evil of our present time as our children’s sole inheritance.

Our resistance is nothing new – be it for animal liberation, old-growth forests, or civil and human rights for our own species. We are part of the resistance that began when humans started believing they were more important than everyone else, when women were burned at the stake, when slaves first rose up and fought back; that’s when this resistance began.

In the year AD 61 the army of Boudicca defended Britain from Roman invaders. Standing in her chariot, she addressed her predominantly female soldiers.

“Look round, and view your numbers. Behold the proud display of warlike spirits, and consider the motives for which we draw the avenging sword. On this spot we must either conquer or die with glory. There is no alternative. Though a woman, my resolution is fixed: the men if they please, may survive with infamy, and live in bondage.”

She died that day, but as a free woman.

To even think that it’s not worth it, or that it doesn’t make a difference, is to disrespect all of those who have died knowing that hope for change in their time was as remote as freedom itself. Resistance has been, and must become, the biological reaction to the destruction of all that we love and all that’s worth defending. The objectification of the natural world and the criminalization of those resisting is not hundreds—but thousands—of years old.

Unfortunately, in the last thousand or more years, not much has changed. The systematic destruction of animal species, endangered human cultures and the environment for economic and political gain still continues, only a little more cleanly and distanced from its true cause. Instead of conquistadors and Roman legions, we have corporate takeovers and Homeland Security. Whether you are a member of a traditional indigenous community in this century or the last, whether you were a practicing earth-worshipper now or during the Spanish Inquisition, the Invaders that force the violent world they created upon us, as opposed to this beautiful world already created, are still trying to break those of U.S. in resistance.

Is this frightening? Yes. Is this discouraging? Absolutely not; it is reason to fight on. Because where there is resistance, there is hope. As long as one human being attempts to shake free from the yoke of oppression, there is a chance that our resistance will survive until it is other people’s turn to carry the torch.

It is a purely privileged and First World experience to even consider giving up because of the fear of what might become of those willing to stand up for what we believe. Repression’s intent is to crush resistance. But like the animals we defend, we must ceaselessly remain true to what we believe, regardless of the cost. Otherwise we’re no longer living—we’re just surviving.

I can’t help but remember the Chiricahua Apache war shaman Geronimo, possibly the greatest guerrilla fighter of all time. In the summer of 1886, with a band of eighteen warriors, thirteen non-fighting women (some of the Apache’s greatest warriors were women) and six children, Geronimo led his people in a desperate flight for freedom. In pursuit were 5,000 U.S. troops, 1,000 Mexican military and a few hundred vigilantes. Academics call their historic escape “one of the most remarkable campaigns of guerrilla warfare ever witnessed on the North American continent.”

At the time of Geronimo’s outbreak, many Apaches hated him. They blamed him with bringing down repression against the rest of the Apache Nation. Those Apaches saw resistance as futile in the face of such a superior enemy. It wasn’t uncommon for Geronimo to force his own people at gunpoint to escape the dreaded reservation with him. Some of those same people attest to a Power that Geronimo possessed that kept him rooted in his identity as a free Apache. A Power that came from an unflinching belief in a world greater than any created by mankind. The same natural power and world we, as animal liberation activists, believe still exists.

Through song and prayer, while being pursued, Geronimo would call upon the Earth herself for protection. Apache survivors from the 1886 breakout swear that in one nighttime escape from a U.S. military command, Geronimo sung to delay the dawn’s light for two hours while his band crossed a naked basin in Southern Arizona. Now, 120 years later, Geronimo is far from being hated by his own people. Instead he is considered to be one of Native America’s greatest heroes, because he kept fighting against all odds.

During this time, it was still a tactic of Geronimo’s to take children captive for the purpose of training them to be full-fledged Apache warriors. A 11-year-old Irish-Mexican boy snatched from a ranch in New Mexico burst into tears when he was “freed” by U.S. soldiers and screamed in Apache that he didn’t want to go back home, but wanted to stay with Geronimo forever.

Kanseah, an 11-year-old Apache boy, would later say of his warrior mentor, “When the people were hungry, Geronimo got food. When they were cold, he provided blankets and clothing. When they were afoot, he stole horses. When they had no bullets, he got ammunition. He was a good man.”

The last Native American to challenge the U.S. in the 19th Century would later say, “Rather than see my race perish from Mother Earth, I cared little, so long as I could direct the fighting and preserve even a few of our people.”

We are warriors. Like Geronimo, we must fight and never lose hope if we are to remain true to the principles of animal liberation. This struggle will not end in our lifetime. We are at the threshold where the same forces that sought to contain the spirit of Geronimo and his people on reservations, are now directing their pursuit towards the Animal Liberation Front (A.L.F.) and the Earth Liberation Front (E.L.F.), in an attempt to preserve the Invaders’ worldview that demands that animals and the Earth remain property to be exploited.

Now is the time to solidify our commitment towards fighting for a better world. Seven federal grand juries and home invasions by armed federal agents are simply evidence that we are having an impact. If Geronimo and thirty-seven renegade Apaches could hold back the tide of Westward Expansion, there’s reason to believe our small movements can do the same towards preserving the natural world and preventing animal exploitation.

There is no doubt in my mind that most people in North America will continue to live their lives selfishly consumed with their own pleasures and luxury. They have made their choice, conscious or not, to deny any responsibility for the evil in the world today.

Now is a time for heroes unafraid of taking a dangerous and unpopular – yet righteous – stance. The Earth and her Animal Nations need more Geronimos, Boudiccas, Frederick Douglases and Harriet Tubmans. Otherwise – though we might not win in our time – we’ll definitely lose. And the animal rights and environmental movements will remain a part of the life-destroying system we oppose, providing Band-Aids and temporary pain relief, at best, to the billions suffering under mankind’s bloodied fist.

When under attack, we must fight back. Now is the time to ready ourselves for war. It’s not enough to defend; we must confront the real terrorists when they least expect it, in traditional guerrilla warfare fashion, knowing that the spirits of all past rebels and resisters are within us. It’s time to be strengthened, not weakened, by recent FBI and ATF attacks on our nonviolent supporters.

We are having an impact. The animal abusers and earth destroyers are circling their wagons my friends; let’s not let our warriors in the A.L.F., E.L.F., Revolutionary Cells and other groups down. It’s time to fight with all the rage and love that the crimes we are aware of deserve.

As the Lakota warrior Tesunke Witko (Crazy Horse) once said after a U.S. attack on his village, “Let these arrows be my tears.”