Some argue the animal liberation movement has lost public support after being marginalized as terrorists by the police lobby groups and state controlled media, however support received during street level activism e.g. information stalls and animal rights outreach seems to be as strong as ever.
It might sound cliché to say “make no mistake, we are at war” but this sadly is a fact. With the creation of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act (SOCPA) and the creation of the National Extremist Tactical Co-Ordination Unit (NETCU) evidence gatherers now interfere with peaceful demonstrations and targeting so-called leaders and campaign organisers of high profile campaigns such as SHAC (The campaign to close Huntingdon Life Sciences) and SPEAK (Against the Oxford University primate lab).
That said, the use of illegal direct action has continued across the UK and animals are being liberated all the time from farms, breeders, pet shops and various other exploitative hell holes. The clandestine non-hierarchical nature of the animal liberation front has always been the key to its successes this is also the case with the Earth Liberation Front who use the “no leader’s” small cell approach where a group of friends will decide to take action in defence of animals or the planet earth and seem to almost always avoid capture by police or security.
So we have two sides to our movement, the above ground, and those who take part in clandestine actions to liberate animals and sabotage industry. The police however have, in recent years taken the easy option and started to target legitimate campaigners and have imprisoned and remanded many high profile campaigners such as Greg Avery of SHAC, Mel Broughton of SPEAK and most recently Sean Kirtley of the Sequani campaign.
The police have taken the easy road and used “conspiracy” charges to lock away campaigns for noisy demonstrations and supposed intimidation. Conspiracy is a weapon of mass destruction for any social justice movement as the supposed culprits don’t have to have actually broken the law themselves, they need to only have conspired with others or as the law states “persons or persons unknown”.
How terrifying for those who have kept within the boundaries of the law thinking themselves safe from police tyranny. The Sequani trial recently saw a media blackout to prevent any media coverage of the case against six campaigners from the Sequani campaign against the labs in Ledbury, Herefordshire. The reason being that the trial was a farce, with supposed witnesses caught out in lies, admissible evidence given in court and the small fact that the judge who sentenced Kirtley was himself a blood sports enthusiast.
As a movement we will need to keep up the good fight and open campaigning in the public eye is a must but we might be able to take something from the success of the ALF and ELF that is the non-hierarchical structure.
The Carnival Against Vivisection at the Sequani Labs in Ledbury on the 6th September will see the first mass action against a lab in years which has no organisers and should serve as a template for future actions and protest. In a time when organisers of lawful demonstrations are criminalised we must do away with leadership. If police wish to monitor us and take our photos we must cover our faces. If they make legal avenues of protest impossible we have no option but to take illegal direct action.
The police have only themselves to blame, we can disappear as an open public protest movement but when the sun goes down, those who exploit humans, animals and this planet are not and never will be safe from those righteous people who are being born every day.