Security: Protecting Ourselves From Government Harassment
from No Compromise Issue 4
 

Numerous incidents show that government and industry harassment of the eco-animal movement exists. Last year, Syracuse activists were subpoenaed to testify at grand jury hearings. The break-ins at the North American A.L.F. Supporters Group in Canada, and the Coalition to Abolish the Fur Trade's (CAFT) headquarters in Memphis were obviously politically motivated as the thieves stole information and equipment crucial to their operations, while leaving other expensive goods behind. CAFT's phone lines were tapped and information obtained from the bugged line lead to the subpoenaing of one CAFT activist to a grand jury in Michigan.

There is also the bombing of Earth First! activist Judi Bari which happened while she was driving. Bari survived the bomb attack only to have the FBI arrest her, claiming she was transporting the bomb to do some terrorist activity. This FBI fantasy scenario is obviously a lie considering the bomb was planted underneath the driver's seat in an obvious attempt to murder her.

Unfortunately, government and industry harassment of activists is real, and not the babblings of the overly-paranoid. Therefore, if we hope to survive as an effective, grassroots movement, we need to be ready for government harassment before it happens. If we wait until we feel its full force, we will not have the necessary infrastructure and knowledge to successfully withstand their assaults. Thankfully, No Compromise is dedicated to giving you the knowledge and creating that infrastructure to ensure our cause's survival.

If we don't prepare for the governments attacked, we will be doomed to repeat our unfortunate history. In the late 80's when direct action -- both civil disobedience and A.L.F actions -- were at their height, the Feds attacked our cause by serving numerous activists with grand jury subpoenas. We were unprepared, many people did the wrong things, and our movement was set back years.

For those of you who don't know what a "grand jury" is, it is basically a closed legal hearing. They are not open to the public, and everything that is said at them is kept completely confidential. Activists are compelled to answer every question (which often-times include personal questions about their friends, lovers, and other associations) and they are not allowed legal representation to be present at the hearing. Furthermore, activists who refuse to testify can be imprisoned.

These "Kangaroo Court" proceedings helped destroy the movement in the late 80s. People feared being subpoenaed and left the movement. Others who were subpoenaed, refused to testify and were sent to jail. The authorities used the jailing of these activists to scare others into testifying. Many people did testify at these hearings. And since these hearings are private, no one know who said what about whom. The fact that people testified created a lot of fear and mistrust amongst activists, and further drove people out of the movement. The effective groups disappeared and the movement lost all that it had been trying so hard to gain. We cannot allow this to happen again.

On a positive note, there are ways to fight those forces that try to maintain the status quo at the expense of our civil liberties. The main weapons we have to fight government harassment include total non-cooperation with the authorities, and publicizing their abuse of the legal system and their violations of our civil liberties.

If the authorities come to your house, don't answer the door. If they call you up and try to set up a meeting with you, say "I have nothing to say to you" and hang up the phone. Or if they need information to help catch A.L.F. activists tell them, "I don't know anything about that, and even if I did, I wouldn't tell you."

It's great to not cooperate with the authorities, but it is even better to tell or show the authorities in no uncertain terms that you will not cooperate with them. That's why hanging up on and making such defiant statements, as written above, are so important. The authorities want easy targets. If you show an unwillingness to cooperate, they often back off.

Of course they will test your commitment. They might threaten to serve you a grand jury subpoena, or say they have information on you, etc. Don't listen to their manipulation and lies. Instead, stay defiant!

Sheila Laracy was one of the activists who was subpoenaed to testify at a grand jury in the late 80s. She did not go to the grand jury hearing (which is itself a violation of the law), but instead she held a news conference exposing the governments abuse of the legal system to harass activists. No authorities, federal or otherwise ever contacted her again about her involvement with the cause. Her total and absolute non-cooperation, coupled with exposing the FBI's abuses successfully fought them off.

Last year, two New York activists who were subpoenaed to give their fingerprints resisted. They fought the subpoenas legally. Local activists organized protests to draw attention to the government's violation of these activists' civil liberties. The activists lost their legal battles, and then faced the option of submitting their fingerprints or going to jail. They chose jail, and suddenly the government was no longer interested in getting their prints. The activists did not give their prints or go to jail. Most likely, the feds feared the negative publicity they would continue to receive for jailing these "conscientious objectors."

Another aspect of successfully fighting government and industry oppression is keeping each other informed. If you are approached by the FBI, or if you are subpoenaed, or if you are arrested, you need to let other activists know immediately! By informing others of the situation, we can be their to provide you with moral support, give you effective advice, and gather the resources -- financial or otherwise -- necessary to help you.

Together, we will be able to fight their attempts to destroy us and prevail! We will not only successfully defend ourselves, but use their attacks to beat them down by revealing their true role as agents of repression. Prepare for an increase in government harassment as our movement grows and becomes more effective. We can beat them and we must beat them. The animals are depending on us!

What To Do If Approached By The Authorities

  • Do not speak with them. Never talk to the authorities. Period. Then immediately call the No Compromise for further assistance.
  • Educate other local activists. If the authorities contact you, it is possible other activists will be approached too. Be sure to educate them on their rights to not speak, and give them the above numbers to call in case they are contacted.
  • Publicize their abuses. Organize protests or news conferences at your local federal building or courthouse to expose the authorities' abuse of your civil liberties. Let No Compromise know and we will post it on the website to keep everyone informed.
  • Read War At Home by Brian Glick. This should actually be done before anything happens. The book is usually sold at your local anarchist or underground book store and is also available from No Compromise. This book outlines all of the major tactics the government and industry use to fight social movements and explains what we can do to fight back! It is a must read book for all activists.