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Animal Protection > AR Interviews

Interview with an ALF Activist

This interview with Darius Fullmer, co-founder of our very own Animal Defense League - New Jersey convicted for committing an illegal direct action, was taken from the Support the Animal Liberation Front Homepage. Darius continues to fight for animal liberation with the ADL-NJ and we are extremely proud of him for ALL of his efforts.

How long did it take you to decide to "join" the ALF?

I was actually interested in the ALF long before I was an animal rights activist. When I first went vegan I ordered a lot of literature from Vegan Action, and included in it was the ALF Primer and The Power is Ours. From the minute I started reading them I knew direct action was for me. But unfortunately I didn't have anybody to work with. For years it was constantly in the back of my head as I waited for my chance. Then one rainy night I found myself pacing back and forth restlessly in my room. I decided I had waited long enough. More importantly, the animals had waited long enough. After a quick read through the Diary of Actions in No Compromise for inspiration I armed myself with nothing more than what I could find in my room. Like most first actions it was pretty sloppy, but it got done regardless.

Why do you feel it's necessary to become an ALF activist?

To put it simply - it's something I feel in my heart. Turning my back on anyone as they are suffering and dying is just not an option. The animals deserve nothing
less.

Wouldn't legal means be a better choice?

I have nothing against legal means of furthering animal liberation. But animals are suffering here and now, every minute of every hour. Protests, petitions, legislation, and education play a major part in animal liberation, but they take time. But for the animals enslaved right now, there is no time.

What right do you have to destroy someone else's property?

I value life over property. If I can save a life by destroying physical property, I will gladly do so. People do not have the right to torture, enslave, mutilate, or murder living creatures. If they are doing so, I am going to use whatever means I deem is necessary to put an end to it. If their property is a tool of this oppression, they have no right to it.

What information did you consult before your action?

Various guides to direct action, such as The ALF Primer, The Power is Ours, The Final Nail, As Darkness Falls, and EcoDefense provide all sorts of valuable information. To attempt direct action without reading them first would be like driving blindfolded. But, as much as you can read, there is no substitute for experience.

What were you arrested for?

I was arrested in April of 1997 in New York City for an ALF action. I broke most of the windows at a Kenny Rogers Roasters fried chicken restaurant. This particular establishment had been hit numerous times before, and had hired Guardian Angels as security guards. I would warn people to be very wary of hitting somewhere that has already been targeted, as this has been the cause of the majority of ALF-related arrests. I was charged with three misdemeanors - Reckless Endangerment, Criminal Possession of Weapon, and Menacing with a Weapon, and one felony - Felony Criminal Mischief.

What did you use for your action? What damage was done?

I used a semi-automatic, CO2-powered BB gun. It worked beautifully. I was able to take out every window in the row, putting a hole in each, as I simply walked by the store. I would expect it to be really loud, but it was actually very quiet. I highly recommend them. I think it was twelve windows that were broken. According to the police report it would cost $3000 to replace.

Were you prepared for the consequences?

I would not have been out there that night if I was not prepared for the consequences. I have been prepared for the possibility of arrest, or even worse, since that first rainy night. To go out there and not be prepared for what might happen would be selling out myself and the animals. Having read about security and the police in the various guides I knew just what to expect and how to deal with it. I was interrogated by three different groups while in holding, but I knew to just say "no comment" to anything and everything they asked me, which is essential.

What were the results of the case?

I hired a lawyer, which cost me $1500. We wound up taking a deal in which they dropped the three misdemeanors and lowered the felony criminal mischief to misdemeanor criminal mischief, in exchange for me pleading guilty to that charge. My sentence consists of a $1000 fine and 30 days community service. Originally they demanded I pay $3000 in restitution to the restaurant. I told them that there was no way I'd pay them a cent, and held strong to that. They had threatened to indict me if I refused, but they eventually decided I could do some more community service instead. So I'm paying $1000 to the state, in exchange for doing $3000 in damage. Not a bad deal. I'm doing the community service at my local SPCA. I love working there and would be whether I have to because of community service or not, so I feel I came out on top in the deal.

How should someone who was arrested for illegal direct action handle the police? media? family? friends?

Handling the police is the easy part - just say "no comment" to anything they ask you, outside of the information they need to fill out the report, such as name, address, etc. It's the rest you have to worry about. The media will inevitably make any ALF arrestee out to be a terrorist. All you can do is grin and bear it, and try to keep the focus on the animals and their abusers. As for family and friends, just explain it to them honestly and openly, tell them why you feel this in your heart.

Are there any preparations that an illegal direct action activist should do before doing an action?

The subject of security and preparation for direct action could fill volumes. Read through those guides and know security inside and out. You can't do the animals any good from behind bars, so take every security precaution possible. Plan everything out in detail, but keep in mind that things will never go as you expect them, so be ready to revise your plans and improvise on a moment's notice.

Any other points you would like to make to activists considering to join illegal direct action campaigns?

Be sure to find quality people to work with - I'm sick of seeing good activists go to jail because they got caught and their friends turned on them. If you can't 100% trust the people you are working with, find people you do trust or go it alone.

What would you say to someone who is against illegal direct actions?

There are basically two kinds of people who are against direct action - people outside the movement, and more conservative people within the movement. With the first, they are probably coming from speciesist viewpoints, so you have to take it outside the realm of animal liberation for them to understand. Of course slavery and the Underground Railroad is the obvious example. At one point black people were viewed as property to be used by their owners, not as individuals deserving respect. Animals are in the exact same situation now. I would remind them that there were people who followed their hearts and were willing to break the law and take what was considered other people's property because they knew it was right. In retrospect, just about anybody can see that regardless of the laws of the day, or the rights of the oppressors to their "property" it was a just and moral act. The ALF is no different, and in retrospect this will be clear. When it comes to the people within the animal liberation movement who don't support the Animal Liberation Front, there are some who are just concerned with raising money for their groups, and feel the ALF hurts their image. I could not care less about their image. Their image doesn't save animals, the ALF does. I think the rest are simply misinformed. I would remind them of the effectiveness of the ALF, not only in the financial harm caused to the target as well as the whole targeted industry, but in their impact on the movement as all- together. There are no better educational opportunities than ALF actions - they generate more public interest and media than any protest or media event ever could. The only failing point may be above ground groups' inability to take advantage of the situation. I would also remind them that you can protest, write letters, get petitions signed until you are blue in the face, but if a fur store is nothing more than a pile of ashes, they are not going to be selling any more fur, and that's the bottom line.

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