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Click to enlarge: Piglets and rabbits liberated by "Band of Mercy"

Animal Liberation -- By 'Whatever Means Necessary'

'Animal lib loonies', 'terrorists', 'people haters', all these terms and worse have been used by power-hungry, profit-motivated animal abusers and the mass media to describe the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) and similarly inclined groups that work outside 'The Law' - whose law? - in pursuit of justice for our brothers and sisters of other species.

The truth is very different. People from all walks of life and social backgrounds, of all ages, of all beliefs and of none. These are the compassionate commandos who make up the ALF and like-minded groups.

Driven by an abhorrence of all abuse and exploitation of the weak and innocent, the activists break unjust laws and risk their freedom in pursuit of a rightful cause - animal liberation - in much the same way that campaigners in past struggles fought for the abolition of slavery and emancipation of women. It used to be a 'crime' to help a slave escape from bondage. It was - indeed, still is! - a 'crime' to torch empty buildings whilst making a valid point through economic sabotage. How many thinking people would now condemn the abolitionists and suffragettes for taking such extra-parliamentary actions?

So, what is animal liberation? It's not hard to understand, it doesn't need a philosopher's lifetime work to explain and it won't take years wrestling with your conscience to come to terms with its logic.

It was once argued the black races were inferior to whites and could therefore be used as slaves. It was also once argued that women were subordinates of men and thus could be exploited. Sensible folk now know that such reasoning is offensive nonsense. All sentient beings are individuals to whom life is of intrinsic value; it's the only life they knowingly have. Each individual of whatever species has, in their own way, feelings of social awareness and family ties, together with ability to suffer. So it should follow that we as humans do not have the right to abuse and exploit those of other species for our own ends, merely because we have the power to do so, any more than we had the right to use those of other races for the same reason: the power to do so. As the guy said, "Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely".

Animal liberation is the ultimate freedom movement. When we respect the right of different species to live their lives without needless interference we shall learn to respect that same right for those within the human race. Animal liberation covers all abuse and exploitation. For those who may ask, for example, "What about rape, et cetera?" - please think for a moment. Humans are animals, rape is undoubtedly an abuse. Don't you think that covers it? I stress again, animal liberation is the ultimate freedom movement, the 'final frontier'.

That, all too briefly, is why the ALP exists. But how and when did it begin showing the animal-abusing. Establishment "We won't take it any more - you either stop the obscenities or you pay the price!"?

Direct action against hunting with hounds began in England during 1963 when the Hunt Saboteurs Association was formed. Going out into the fields to place themselves between the hunters and the hunted, sabs were brutally attacked by blood-junkies with monotonous regularity. At that time many sabs were pacifists so rarely fought back against the hunt thugs, who found 'sab-bashing' a rewarding alternative when the usual quarry wasn't around to be terrorized and tortured. This surely couldn't last, and it didn't.

By 1972 some sabs in the Home Counties got weary of spending their Saturdays being thrown into ditches, appreciating that if the hunt can't start then it can't kill (nowadays sabs readily defend themselves). Ira mobilizing hunt vehicles, including the hound van, super-gluing locks on gates; these and other tactics frustrated the hunters' evil exploits whilst protecting imaginative sabs from harm. It also gave them more free time to use fighting animal abuse.

This new radical group adopted the name 'Band of Mercy', taken from the 19th century RSPCA youth organization. Much to the pro-hunting RSPCA's embarrassment the original Bands of Mercy performed plays, one of which featured a scene where Sarah Jane, the maid, emptied a jug of water down the gun barrels of Mr Quickshot the pigeon-shooter and dipped all his cartridges in warm water. The gun barrels subsequently burst in Mr Quickshot's face. Was this really a course of action recommended by the RSPCA of days gone by?

Within a year this original, covert direction action was extended to other areas of animal abuse, particularly the vivisection industry. Arson also began to be used as a tactic alongside liberation of the animals themselves. War had been declared. The first Band of Mercy activist to be convicted (for torching boats owned by seal-hunters) later went on to serve 6 years as a member of the RSPCA's national council.., maybe anticipating the late 1990's emergence of the Provisional RSPCA?

More Band of Mercy activists were subsequently jailed for their deeds but this in no way deterred others from taking up and continuing the fight against animal abuse with a total disregard for 'The Law'. By 1976 the radical activists adopted the soon-to-be-infamous title of' Animal Liberation Front'. Nothing would stop their progress now!

During those formative years many high profile actions were carried out in the name of animal liberation; from the popularly-acclaimed rescue of the 'smoking beagles' from the hellhole laboratories of multinational ICI to the "Oh, my God, whatever will they do next?" digging up of blood-junky, folk-legend John Peels grave. Everyone kept wondering what would happen next...

The late 1970's and early 80's saw the media treating activists, to a large extent, as well-intentioned animal-lovers who, as true English eccentrics, were just taking things a bit far; they were the Robin Hoods of the animal welfare world. 'Liberation Leagues' also sprang up for a while around this time with mass daylight raids freeing animals and obtaining valuable information which revealed the greed-driven evils practiced behind the closed doors of animal Belsens.

By the mid-1980's economic sabotage bad become a common tactic, from smashing windows of butchers' shops to the sustained campaign of arson attacks against department stores that sold furs. This really began to hurt the animal-abuse-based institutions and multi-nationals in a way that demonstrations, leafleting and marches never could. It hurt them financially. The great god 'Profit' was under threat?

Around the same time two new, even more radical, groups emerged. The first, in 1984, was the Hunt Retribution Squad which concentrated on waging war against bloodsports by extending the ALF's remit, stating that it would inflict physical harm on blood-junkies to prevent them murdering wild animals.

The Animal Rights Militia which followed quickly, in 1985, soon establishing their credentials? Early actions included sending anti-personnel devices to prominent vivisectors. The ARM would surface sporadically with ever more dramatic effect, not least the series of city center arson attacks during 1994 which caused 4 million pounds worth of damage on the Isle of Wight alone.

So, the media's secret controllers began to lean hard on its editors and, almost overnight, the beagle-rescuing darlings became dangerous fanatics who posed a threat to the very fabric of society. In other words, the State and the Establishment were getting a metaphorical kicking for a change and didn't like it at all.

Reprisal from the State was heralded by the creation of the Animal Rights National Index (ARNI) at New Scotland Yard which; although a police department, would work closely with the security services. ARNI's first major offensive came in 1986 with the arrest of the ALF Supporters Group volunteers and other activists. The Sheffield show trial that followed in 1987 imposed jail terms of up to 10 years. An immediate flood of animal liberation actions ensued, completely destroying the claim that the trial had "smashed the ALF". The oppressive sentences had proved conclusively that direct action worked and the animal abusers were fighting a rearguard battle to protect their hellish interests. Nothing prompts a fiercer defense than the knowledge that you're losing...

With the fur trade decimated and vivisection an established target more attention was focused on the largest areas of all animal abuse - the meat industry. Butchers' shop windows continued to disappear whilst their locks were super-glued, shrink-wrapped meat on supermarket shelves was mysteriously pierced prompting fears of contamination and, in the major league, slaughter houses were torched. A young child commented "If there aren't any slaughterhouses there won't be any butchers' shops". The financial year 1991-1992 saw around a hundred refrigerated meat trucks destroyed by incendiary devices at a capital cost of some 6 million pounds. Add on the invisible costs of increased insurance premiums and security precautions, you begin to get the kind of losses that worry the richest of businesses.

Late 1993 saw the birth of yet another group, as radical as the ARM. The Justice Department's first wave of anti-personnel devices were intercepted but others soon began to reach their targets. Video cassette boxes, poster robes, metal mousetraps primed with razor-blades, the style of devices seemed endless. Siding firmly with die Animal Rights Militia, the JD declared "We won't be asking anyone to stop messing with animals and will make no excuses for our violent intervention - they've had it too good for too long:'

Just a few months later the ARM began a series of attacks using powerful timed incendiary devices against "High Street animal abuse" including Boots the Chemist which, at that time, still owned laboratories using animals in useless tests intended as nothing more than protection from possible compensation claims from human victims of drug-induced side effects. Boots soon got rid of its pharmaceutical wing.

The ALF has always had a triad of policies within which anyone could claim responsibility as an activist under its umbrella, and get the backing of the ALF Supporters Group if unlucky enough to be caught. They were basically:

(i) To liberate animals from suffering or potential suffering and place them in good permanent homes or, where appropriate, release them into their natural environment.

(ii) To damage or destroy property and equipment associated with animal abuse which

(a) took that property out of the arena of animal abuse so it could no longer cause harm and

(b) inflicted economic loss on the abusers with the intention of driving them out of business.

(iii) To take all reasonable precautions not to endanger life of any kind.

As popular as those policies had been and despite the powerful effects wrought against animal abuse by their implementation it became clear from the ARM, HRS and JD that anger was boiling over at the all-too-slow rate of progress towards animal liberation. The third ALF policy was becoming strained, even amongst some dedicated ALF supports.

The arguments presented in favor of inflicting serious injury, even death, upon animal abusers were quite straightforward. Do you believe in animal liberation? Do you therefore believe that speciesism is as indefensible as racism? Did you support the African National Congress during its policy of armed struggle against apartheid? Would you support an 'armed struggle' by the ARM or Justice Department? Having answered each question honestly you may find some contradictions, it's up to you to resolve them in your own mind; even Gandhi said "Where there is only a choice between cowardice and violence, I would advise violence".

Whatever form it takes, direct action in pursuit of animal liberation has now spread across the whole world. From New Zealand to New York, from Sweden to South Africa, the ultimate freedom movement is growing in strength and determination.

So many are working in so many different ways, the important thing is to work for the common goal and let your heart tell you what courses of action are right for you.

There are so many brave, compassionate people I would like to thank but it would be unfair to choose specific names, so:

To those who have lost their lives fighting animal abuse and to those who took their own lives when the horrors became too much to bear; to those who gave their freedom and to those who didn't get caught. Thank you.

To those who have taught me and others and to those who have perhaps learned from my mistakes; to those who led the way 'and to those who will follow in the future. Thank you.

To those who spread the truth within 'The Law' and to those who lead a vegan lifestyle; to those who empty the animal prisons and to those who destroy the tools of oppression. Thank you.

To those who do everything they can and to those who cry alone when they feel it's not enough. Thank you.

Animal liberation is not a campaign, not just a hobby to put aside when it becomes tiresome or anew interest catches your eye. It's a war. A long, hard, bloody war in which all the countless millions of its victims have been on one side only, have been defenseless and innocent, whose one tragedy was to be born nonhuman.

To my brothers and sisters still in the circuses, the farms, the laboratories, the slaughterhouses and all the other fiendish worlds of darkness that offer nothing but pain and dread. I'm sorry, so very sorry. But the war will go on. While there is one animal being abused or exploited anywhere in this world it's one too many. The war will go on until that last individual is free. To those of you who will achieve that final victory, thank you. Thank you so very much. Meanwhile, lets continue the fight for animal liberation, by whatever means necessary.

Robin Webb
ALF Press Officer

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