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Supporting the ALF and Dating the FBI: Three Recent Interviews
From Voice of the Voiceless
Three recent interviews on topics not often covered on VoV
With every VoV article, I make sure it fulfills one of three criteria: 1) News you won�t read anywhere else. 2) Already reported news with a new angle / increased depth, or 3) Already reported news with a spin that leaves the reader (hopefully) more empowered than scared.
One thing I don�t do is much editorializing. That�s not what this site is for, and as such there are a lot of topics related to the animal liberation movement that don�t get covered.
To fill in a few of those gaps, I�m posting three interviews I�ve done in recent weeks that do a good job of covering important subjects outside the scope of the site.
Citizen Radio (audio interview with Allison Kilkenny and Jamie Kilstein )
Probably the most fun interview I�ve done. Dropping through skylights at age 18, finding out the woman you�re dating is working for the FBI, and the best question of all: �What makes you happy?�
The mindset of those who work outside the law, being effective legally, dealing with the FBI, and a controversial swipe at food fetishists.
Phone interview on finding a place in the movement after prison, working with the filmmakers of Bold Native, the effect of arrests on the underground animal liberation movement, direct action trends over the last 30 years, and how to support the Animal Liberation Front.
Here�s the full text of the XVO interview:
Do you mind talking about the reality of being imprisoned and how you felt when you realised you�d reached a point where there is �no turning back� and that �by any means necessary� were the way things had to be done to achieve the aims you wanted?
I came into the movement knowing I was going to prison. Not courting it, but accepting if I acted in a way commensurate with the urgency I felt towards acting to stop what was happening to animals, I would go to prison. From the beginning, stopping animal abuse and the probability of prison were a package deal.
To take the fur farm campaign I went to prison for, for example. We never had a conversation about prison and how we would handle arrest. It was just implicit in the grassroots movement at the time that prison was an accepted consequence of throwing yourself into the frontlines. Most of us would get away, but a few be caught. It was accepted because the only insurance against it � inaction � was not an option.
A difference between those with a warrior mindset and those more passive is what I call �line of sight compassion�. That is, the former are just as motivated by the suffering they don�t see but know is happening, as the suffering they do see. Why are circus�s and rodeos the biggest protest targets? You can see the animals. Yet in Seattle where I lived, I found many well-disguised labs and slaughterhouses that went �out of sight, out of mind�. The people I know who have been serious about getting things done have compassion that can see through walls. They know these horrors are not limited to the lobster tank at Wal-Mart. It�s everywhere.
There�s a tremendous peace that comes from an acceptance of prison as a possibility. The how�s, why�s, and where�s of direct action are all at our fingertips. It�s the fear that is the biggest obstacle we face. Only when fear is conquered do we become a true threat.
⁃ What was the initial influence or spark that got you into Veganism and Animal Rights. In previous interviews you mention �Vegan Straight Edge� being the reason your life took the path it did. Could you expand on that a little and also how it lead you ultimately to the point you�re at now. You often hear of people saying they went vegan because of a personal exposure to severe animal cruelty. Was there one of those moments for you?
There was a moment, skimming channels in high school, where I glimpsed slaughterhouse footage on a public access channel. It was a 3 second clip, but it provided the spark that soon became veganism and a more active roll in the movement.
A movement that talks but doesn�t act is not one I want to be a part of, even as a teenager. This is what drew me in about about the angle of my particular gateway to the movement, the vegan straight edge subculture. It had an emphasis on direct engagement of the animal abusers, vs. a passive critique about the way things �should be�. It became apparent to me though time that music-based subcultures primarily attract egos and big talkers, and not people serious about action. But the lack of sincerity in this scene that is evident upon scrutiny is, I think, irrelevant. That people create the image of a straight edge army ready to burn down every slaughterhouse is tremendously empowering to a lot of younger people, as it was to me. Fictitious or not. There will be a few who make that message their life�s work and move on, even if the rest go to hair school and become DJ�s.
⁃ In your opinion what are the best and most effective ways to be active, after going vegan, for people whose path does not include working outside of the law?
My faith in the two extremes only strengthens with time: getting large numbers of people to be vegan through outreach, or A.L.F. tactics. I�m very suspicious of anything in the middle. And I�m saying this as someone who does most of his work in the middle: I�m no longer carrying out A.L.F. actions, and most of the people I talk to are already vegan. I�ll say that upfront.
With veganism, I really like the undercover footage that has come out recently. It�s powerful, and that footage going viral is very high-impact. Music is another very strong tool.
When I think about the people I know, the majority would credit their veganism to 1) seeing footage of animal abuse 2) vegan bands 3) a friend. When 90% of our effectiveness is coming from 10% of our actions, we should focus fiercely on that 10%.
With the other end of the spectrum, I would like to see the A.L.F. focusing on live liberations on a large scale, and choose actions that fit these parameters:
*Avoiding small scale sabotage for high-impact actions
Live liberations of animals happen infrequently because of the difficulty in finding homes for domesticated animals. These actions would happen more if there were broader awareness about the scale of wildlife farming in the U.S., and the prevalance of animals that can be released directly into the wild. There are many thousands of pheasant farms, deer farms, bobcat farms, and many others to be found if you do your research. Wild animals have no greater right to freedom than a chicken in a factory farm, yet targeting confined wildlife operations allows the A.L.F. to liberate thousands of animals without the burden of homing them. Addresses of fur farms are widely available, and other wildlife farms in one�s area can be found via the internet, or a local state Department of Agriculture or Department of Fish & Wildlife office.
⁃ We find ourselves often debating why the mainstream tend to view people that are into Animal Rights as being only concerned with single issues and somehow that we don�t care about other issues like racism, homophobia, sexism etc. With visible and well known groups like PETA using ignorant methods, such as dressing like Ku Klux Klan members to protest the Westminster Dog Show, it tends to reinforce this unfortunate stereotype. What are your thoughts on how things like this impact the movement? Do you have any feelings on PETA as an organisation?
Too often when people are accused of projecting an image we, as animal advocates, only care about one issue, it is really a case of someone having an opinion about the most important issue. And it is absolutely fine to say: I care about human injustice, but what happens to animals is immeasurably worse. The whole notion that �you can�t place a rank injustice� is offensive and propagated primarily by people who either 1) do nothing, or 2) want to cultivate the appearance of being �radical� while not being vegan. Anyone faced with the choice of having their toe stepped on or spending their life in a metal crate will quickly find the inspiration to �rank injustice�.
Among the examples you cite, I think it a totally appropriate to compare dog breeding to Eugenics, which is the analogy PETA was trying to make.
With an organization as large as PETA, it would be foolish to say I agree with everything they do, because they do a lot of things. I also know it would be futile to waste precious space in an interview casting stones at PETA, because truthfully PETA doesn�t much care what I think, and my opinion is to no effect.
- For you what role does Veganism play in fighting other types of oppression?
Its a bottom-up approach � when you can accept the oppression of non-human animals as a legitimate injustice, other forms of oppression become more apparent and legitimate as well. While my work has been primarily non-human animal focused simply because those issues affect the largest numbers, you will rarely meet a vegan whose politics are limited to factory farming, for example. The vegan ethic, by the nature of its philosophical underpinnings, will bring one to have very strong opinions about the prison industry, environmental issues, and every injustice and inequity affecting all species, genders, races, and classes.
⁃ You�ve been raided by the FBI a couple of times over the past year or so. Why did this happen? Do you accept that this intrusion will now be a part of your life ongoing?
I was raided twice in the past year as part of A.L.F. investigations. In the first, I was named an �unindicted co-conconspirator� in the 2004 A.L.F. raid at the University of Iowa. The A.L.F. got 401 animals out of the labs and did hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage to equipment. They attempted to link me to this action through very specious evidence, and raided my house in an attempt to find anything that would corroborate their fictious narrative.
The second raid came five months later after a series of A.L.F. arsons in Colorado and Utah (for which Walter Bond is now in jail). They attempted to link their suspect, Walter Bond, to my house. Or, that was the ostensible reason for the raid. Their actual reason was communicated to by FBI agents to my roommates during interrogation: �We�re really here for Peter Young�. Its my opinion the arsons were a pretext to get back in the house and see what �evidence� against me they may have missed in the first raid.
The basic fact is they can�t catch the Animal Liberation Front. So, they go after the only names they can link to the A.L.F. I am a name on that very short list. The went after Rod Coronado ruthlessly after his first prison sentence, putting him back inside three more times. I�ve had my garbage taken, my ex-girlfriends questioned, and another woman I dated briefly was revealed in federal court documents to be working for the FBI. More recently, I was the target of an even more sinister neutrilzation attempt by a private intelligence firm with animal abuse industry clients (lawyers are involved and am unable to discuss in detail presently). I will embrace the attention, because in going after me they divert time and resources away from those who are still out there in the dead of night saving animals. I am happy to serve as a distraction if it means those carrying out A.L.F. actions remain free.
⁃ You did some talks in mainland Europe last year. How come you didn�t head over to the UK? Is there any place you can�t travel because of your incarceration?
The Amsterdam talk went well (and was attended by undercover police, which came out in some documents that surfaced recently). That particular tour I didn�t have any involvement in booking. It was all taken care of by other people, so regrettably I didn�t make it to the UK.
So far, no country has denied me entry because of my criminal record. To be fair, I haven�t had many opportunities to be denied, having only been asked for my passport once: in Holland. It will be interesting to see if I am barred entry to the UK � they have a history of doing that to people who say incendiary things, such as Jerry Vlasak and Steven Best.
I am back in Europe the first 3 weeks of July, and will be all over the continent, including Scandinavia, Switzerland, Germany, Holland, and elsewhere. Anyone interested in setting up a talk, get in touch: email@example.com
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