Animal Liberation Front Actions Heat Up; Will Underground Activism Make a
Jun. 26 2012
As observed in this week's
feature story, the underground movement that produced the infamous 2001
arson at the University of Washington largely fell apart afterward. Its
members dispersed amid squabbles and a backlash from law enforcement. But
that doesn't mean radical activism is completely dead.
Liberation Front, one of two underground groups that the UW arsonists
aligned themselves with, is showing new signs of life. In January, the ALF
claimed responsibility for an
arson at Harris Feeding Company, a California beef production ranch. The
perpetrators destroyed 14 cattle trucks and used digital timers, just like
at the UW arson. "The enemy is still vulnerable," a
The proceeding September, Oregon mink farmer
Carl Salo was awoken by an alarm on his property. Rushing outside, he
recalls, "we found mink running around." Three hundred of them. The wire
cages that held them and the fence surrounding his farm had been cut. Over
the next seven hours, holding flashlights, he and a cluster of neighbors who
arrived to help ran around chasing them. They recovered almost all of them.
Still, he says, "you feel violated."
A couple months later, the ALF
claimed responsibility for another mink release. "While overall mink farm
liberations have declined since the late 1990s, they have surged in Oregon,"
boasted an ALF press
release. "This was the fourth mink liberation in the Astoria area alone
in the past three years."
Greg Harvey-- a Eugene police detective who
helped crack the cell responsible for the UW arson and a string of others
along the West Coast-- has noticed the trend. Before arsons became the rage
with that cell of a decade past, Oregon experienced a spate of mink
releases. The recent actions, he says, are "almost identical to the way
things started" back then.
"It's going to come back," says
Vlasak, an ALF press officer, of underground activism.
to the Harris Feeding Company arson and a
of other so-called "direct actions" listed on the ALF press office
website. He also cites what he sees as a growing awareness of environmental
and animal rights concerns, as evidenced by the 2011 book
Deep Green Resistance. An
amorphous organization that sprang from the book is devoted to nothing less
than stopping "industrial civilization," according to its
website, and envisions both
above-ground and underground parts of the movement.
Back in the late
'90s and early oughts, the Pacific Northwest's underground activists were
divided over how violent to be--whether they should stop at property
destruction or move on to attacking people. If Vlasak is any judge, that
conversation is still alive.
"I'm not saying people should go out
and start killing," the California-based Vlasak says. But he's not saying
activists shouldn't kill either, even though he's a doctor, devoted to
mending people. "There's a lot of violence used against animals" Vlasak
rationalizes. And some of those responsible won't stop, he says, "until they
are forced to stop."
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