Nothing warms the cockles of my heart like the news that
another animal abuse enterprise has been reduced to ashes.
I delight in poring over images of dairy trucks aglow, the
charred skeletons of slaughterhouses, or land where fur industry
warehouses used to be.
Arson is glorified by magazines, websites and individuals
who support illegal direct action-- and rightly so. It is
inspiring and effective. But for those without commitment,
know-how, and the willingness to sacrifice the rest of their
lives in prison, it can be the beginning of the end. The end
of their freedom, the end of their direct action careers,
and all too often, the end of their dignity and courage, should
they decide to roll over on a fellow activist.
Every year individuals are arrested for these types of actions
who were not experienced, not prepared, not fully committed
and not ready to go the distance. Many of these individuals
share a name: snitch. The rest languish in prisons serving
out long sentences. Regardless of the result, one thing is
certain: All individuals attempting such actions would benefit
from starting out with small, simple, low-consequence actions
and working their way up.
Starting small serves many purposes. These actions are a
training ground. With minimal risk, underground activists
can learn what it takes to operate anonymously, effectively
and without getting caught. It is better to develop these
skills while risking a year in prison than it is while risking
Low-consequence actions are also an opportunity for individuals
to find out whom they work well with and whom they should
avoid. Groups of committed activists have an opportunity to
gel into cohesive, well-oiled partnerships while the stakes
are relatively low. Each team member's strengths and weaknesses
can be assessed so that operations can be carried out smoothly
and quickly. This will be particularly important if these
teams go on to take on riskier and more complicated actions.
This time will also give each individual involved an opportunity
to assess his or her ability and desire to carry on with what
they have been doing. With experience, they will learn to
evaluate risks honestly and leave their egos behind when deciding
if they are willing to accept the consequences of their actions.
Some may realize that they either are not fully committed
or are more suited to playing supportive roles. It is vital
that no person ever engage in any activity whose risks exceed
the level of sacrifice they are willing to make.
Just because an action carries low consequences and is simple
to pull off does not mean that it cannot be effective. Many
fur stores have been put out of business after repeatedly
suffering broken windows, glued locks and painted walls. Numerous
companies and individuals have decided to dissociate themselves
from animal abuse after their vehicles and homes have been
smashed up. Fur farms have shut down permanently after watching
their captives scamper off to freedom.
Big things can come in small packages. The important thing
is to think strategically, be smart, stay safe and just get
out there and do it!