Support All Jailed Eco-Warriors

By Rabbix

In Britain, people have been campaigning against bloodsports for centuries. In 1516, Thomas More, writing in his book Utopia , described hunting as "the lowest, the vilest and most abject part of butchery." By the beginning of the Victorian period, animal protection groups were starting to emerge, groups like the Society for Preventing Wanton Cruelty to Brute Animals, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (later to be known as the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) and the Animals' Friend Society, among others. These new groups promoted kindness to animals.

By the start of the twentieth century, specific anti-bloodsports groups with names such as the League for the Prohibition of Cruel Sports, the National Society for the Abolition of Cruel Sports and the League against Cruel Sports, had been formed. Yet, despite all these groups actively campaigning against bloodsports, they remained legal. Even now, in the 1990's, with the overwhelming majority of British people opposed to hunting with hounds, hunting remains legal.

Recognizing that Parliamentary campaigning would not achieve the abolition of bloodsports, John Prestidge founded the Hunt Sabateurs Association (HSA) in 1963. The HSA was the first group specifically dedicated to using non-violent direct action means to save the lives of hunted animals - methods that have been proven to work and continue to work to this day.

Since the formation of the HSA, Britain and countries across the world have seen the creation of a number of animal and earth liberation direct action "groups" whose tactics range from disruption and civil disobedience, as with the HSA and Earth First!, right the way through to animal rescues and criminal damage actions, such as those carried out by the Animal Liberation Front and the Earth Liberation Front.

Because of the success of these types of groups, many people have been drawn to direct action. For example, in 1980, Earth First! was born in America. Today, there are Earth First! activists across the world with official contacts not only in America, but also in Australia, Canada, Ireland, England, Finland, France, Germany, India, Philippines, Poland, Russia, Scotland, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden and Ukraine.

Anyone who engages in direct action, even if it's just a simple picket, runs the risk of arrest and imprisonment. In Scotland, an Earth First! activist was remanded to prison for a month for shouting "Shame" as they felled some trees. (Shouting "shame" is illegal in Britain as its intended to insult.) In America, three animal liberation activists were jailed for three months for picketing a fur store. I, myself, am currently on police bail charged with Conspiracy to Incite Criminal Damage because I write about animal/earth liberation direct action. I face a possible ten year sentence for WRITING about direct action!

Being arrested is a frightening and isolating experience. Suddenly, you're not in control of your life, you imagine the worst and this is when you need support the most. After my first arrest, in just four days, I lost over a stone in weight due to stress.

As members of the animal and earth liberation movement, it is vital we support those people who have been jailed for acting on their beliefs. Whether we agree with their action or not does not matter. What does matter is that we recognise that their motive was to abolish animal suffering and/or prevent the destruction of the planet.

The jailed Eco-Warrior has acted where others have only talked. They deserve all the support we can give them. As a movement we cannot expect people to carry out direct action if we then, don't support the activist if caught.

To support a jailed Eco-Warrior, there are a number of things you can do. First, and most simply, write a letter of support to the activist. Write a little bit about yourself. Tell the activist any news you think might be of interest. However, remember all letters to prisoners are read by the authorities. Don't say anything to a prisoner you wouldn't say to a copper's face.

When you first write a letter to a prisoner, one of the initial problems is knowing what to say. With my first ever letter of support to a prisoner, I was terrified I would bore the prisoner. YOUR LETTER WON'T BORE THE PRISONER. Prisoners love getting letters and appreciate the fact you wrote. Even if the prisoner doesn't reply to your letter, it ISN'T because they didn't appreciate the letter. It's because they might be restricted with the number of letters they can send out and obviously want to keep their letter writing quota for writing to family and old friends. It is a great buzz for anyone to know they've got support. But, remember the prisoners aren't cartoon superheroes. They are ordinary people who just happened to have acted on their beliefs. So, write to prisoners and befriend them.

Another way you can help is by circulating prisoner lists yourself. Tell your friends about anyone who has been recently jailed and encourage them to write letters of support. If you publish your own newsletter, include a reminder about the prisoners and, either list all the prisoners, names and addresses or, give a contact address (such as the North American Animal Liberation Front Supporters Group) where people can find out details themselves.

The third way to help is to assist in tracking down new prisoners and to let the appropriate people know about a person's arrest so others can be informed. Back in October 1995, animal liberation activists set fire to a barn in Devon, England to protest live animal exports. On November 11, 1995, Devon police arrested Darren Cole, charging him with the arson. On December 11, 1995, Darren was remanded into custody. At the time of his remanding, Darren did not know about the Animal Liberation Front Supporters Group (ALFSG). Nor did the ALFSG know about him. Darren could have easily spent his entire time in prison without receiving any support. If it hadn't been for the dedication of one A.L.F. supporter, he very well could have. On December 11, 1995, the Devon local TV news announced that Darren had been remanded for the arson. Listening to the news was "Jevon." As soon as "Jevon" heard the news, he did everything he could to find out where Darren had been remanded. He even visited the courts that had remanded Darren to find out where he had been sent. Then, as soon as he knew where Darren was, he wrote a letter to both Darren and the ALFSG telling them about each other. Thanks to "Jevon," less than one week after Darren had been remanded, his name and address were circulated by both the ALFSG and Earth Liberation Prisoners Support Network (ELP). People WERE informed of Darren's imprisonment. People DID write to Darren. People DID visit Darren and, basically, he DID get the support he deserved.

If YOU hear of a person who was arrested, it's vital that YOU do everything YOU can to make sure the prisoner gets the support deserved. Even if the prisoner does know about the ALFSG and/or ELP, the prisoner will really appreciate what you have done on his or her behalf. And, as for the various prisoner support networks, they would much rather be told about the same prisoner twenty times than not at all.

Supporting prisoners is a vital activity for people involved with animal/earth liberation. If there wasn't any support, it would not stop the actions from going ahead but, if there is support, it makes prison life a lot easier for those unlucky enough to be caught.


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