Letters from the Underground - Part 1
from No Compromise Issue 7
 

The following article is one person's story of her involvement with the A.L.F. This is the first letter in a three part series. No Compromise anonymously received these letters and we re-print them here to, once again, reveal the truth about the character, dedication and resourcefulness of the A.L.F.

This letter is printed for informational purposes only and is not intended to encourage people to partake in any illegal activities.

HOW SHE JOINED THE A.L.F.

To begin, let me say that while associating with animal rights activists (something I try to avoid), I often hear people speaking thrillingly about articles they've read in the press or seen on the news about animals being liberated, laboratories being trashed, lorries being torched, fast food restaurants being burned to the ground, etc. Along with these conversations it is practically guaranteed that one or more persons will exclaim the greatness and empowerment of the action followed by a "Gee, how do I hook up with these people?" Also heard is, "Why don't these lads contact me?" or "How do I get involved with that group?" There are many others, but all basically asking the same thing: "How do I get involved?" This is how I found the answer to that question.

After reading stories about lab break-ins and fur stores being torched, I, too, desperately wanted to join this group. But how? There was really no place to start. All of my friends in the animal rights movement had less interest in illegal direct action than I did, and even those who showed some interest were completely clueless as to how to meet these people.

At one point, I wrote an animal rights group letting them know that I would be willing to help them raid a lab. Needless to say, that letter went unanswered. Finally I realized what I was doing. I was waiting for someone with a plan to drop in out of the blue and ask me to join in a lab raid. Now stop and think about this. Would anyone who put hundreds of hours in planning a covert, illegal direct action that could land them in prison for years risk asking a basic stranger for help simply because he or she is a vegetarian or belonged to the local animal rights chapter?! NO! (At least not if they want to stay active and out of jail.)

So how did I, or a better question is, how do you, end up "joining" the Animal Liberation Front? That's easy. Come up with your own plan! Really. It's not as hard as you think. Let me repeat this important point which everyone must realize. Come up with your own plan. This is very important.

One of the reasons there is not a lot more illegal direct action happening is because there are only a few people willing to invest the time and energy necessary to choose a viable target, research the facts, re-con the place, and conduct any other work necessary to execute a successful direct action.

There are always plenty of people who want to help in the actual execution of the plan, though not many people are willing to dedicate and invest the time, money, energy, and stress that go along with the planning. People are always willing to share in the "excitement," but not in the actual work. Simply put, no one wants to help bake the bread, but everyone wants to eat it.

OVERCOME THE EXCUSES

Many people will easily shrug off planning a direct action for many reasons. (Nearly all are mere excuses which could easily be overcome.) One of the most overused reasons is people tell themselves they don't know anyone who could help in the final execution of the plan. For example, they don't know who could find homes for X number of animals; they don't know who they could trust as a lookout; they don't know who could loan or rent them a vehicle to use, etc. I want to emphasize here that if you are faced with a problem like this, continue on!

There are many bridges that one can foresee that look uncrossable during the planning of an action. These problems seem unresolvable and often discourage people from continuing on with their plan. Again I must emphasize, continue. These problems either solve themselves or are more easily solved when you actually reach that point of the plan. (The other option usually being the plan is aborted for some other reason long before the problem ever had to be confronted.)

Something else that should be thrown in here is that you should expect about four out of five plans into which you've invested time and money to fall through. Again, this shouldn't deter you. If you approach direct action with the knowledge that most of your plans may not work, then you should not be discouraged from battling on if some of your plans do fall through.

Though it is not necessary, before taking any direct action, one should read as much literature as possible on the topic. This is much easier to do now thanks to a "revival" in the grassroots animal rights/liberation movement. If possible, any literature pertaining to illegal activities should be mailed to a fake name at a post office box or private mailbox center. If this is not possible, perhaps a well-trusted friend (who could handle police/federal harassment and is not involved in illegal activities themselves) would be willing to have it sent to his or her place. Another possibility would be to get this information off of a web site (from a library, campus, or cyber-coffee shop computer).

Though some of these security precautions may seem ridiculous, paranoid, and unnecessary, you will be thankful you followed them if you continue to increase the frequency, severity, and effectiveness of your actions, thus producing more intense local and federal investigations.

AN ARMY OF ONE

But, wait a minute! You still don't know if there is anyone you can trust. This does not mean that you shouldn't consider doing an action. When I realized that no one was going to drop in and ask me to help them with their plan--when I finally realized that I was the A.L.F.--I decided to target a fast food restaurant that I had noticed as appearing vulnerable.

My first step was realizing that I was the A.L.F. and that it was up to me to find a viable target, in this case the fast food restaurant. Though I still didn't know who could help me with this plan, I proceeded to scope it out the next few nights, still thinking I would find someone to help me.

Though I had no experience at "casing a joint," it came very easily and naturally. Between 2:00 and 3:00 a.m. (the time I decided would be safest to strike the place) I carefully scoped it out. Some nights dressed head to toe in my jogging gear (now is not the time to be caught there in your balaclava), I jogged up and down the street past the restaurant. I was careful to look for possible activity inside the building, check on any employees' cars in the parking lot, judge the amount of traffic, the amount of police presence, determine how well the parking lot and building were lit, scan for any drive thru or security cameras (to look out for and to sabotage!), etc.

Other nights I walked my boyfriend's dog up and down the street looking for the same things. In no time at all I was very familiar with the activity of the area (and had walked two emergency escape routes I would take should I be interrupted). I was soon confident with this target. Unfortunately, I still didn't know anyone I would trust enough to divulge my plans to. I knew what I wanted to do.

The day before I was going to execute my plan, I drove to a neighboring town, bought super--glue, spray-paint, and some garden gloves from three different stores, making sure to pay in cash at each store. That evening I went for a walk wearing my gloves and ended up picking up two large rocks and half of a brick that I determined was small enough to carry around and handle, yet big enough to smash through the thick plate glass windows of a fast food restaurant.

THE FIRST ACTION

Though I would have felt a bit more comfortable with a partner to lookout for me, I was tired of waiting around for apathetic and unmotivated people. That night, dressed in black from head to toe, I went jogging. As I got near the restaurant I slowed to a walk. Seeing that there was no traffic around and facing a dark and empty-looking building, I approached the restaurant.

Walking briskly across the lot, I pulled my mask down over my face. At the rear of the building I quickly took off my black backpack and got out my supplies. I quickly filled the two back door locks with super-glue and small pieces of paper clips that I had snipped especially for this occasion. I then proceeded to spray-paint slogans over the entire back of the building and on the side with the drive-thru.

This done, I peeked around the building. Headlights were approaching from up the street so I just remained calm and motionless. My stomach dropped when I saw it was a police car. The cop then drove by without slowing down or looking my way.

Delighted, I walked around to the front of the building and quickly tossed all three projectiles through three separate windows! I saved this part of the action for last because of the loud sound it would make. And with the three explosions of glass, I quickly sprinted through one of my pre-arranged exits and into a residential area where I quickly vanished. I then removed my black turtleneck and balaclava, ditched them in an apartment complex dumpster, and went home.

My point here is that with enough planning, determination, and self-confidence, one person can pull off a successful action! Of course, the "bigger" or "more severe" the action, the better it may be to have a lookout with clear communications to you. Nevertheless, one person shouldn't feel helpless and inactive because he or she doesn't know others who are willing to take illegal direct action. Besides, taking action is your first step in feeling out potential comrades who share the same philosophy as you and are ready and willing to take action.

*Don't miss the next installment, where the underground activist explains how she hooked up with other like-minded individuals to partake in much grander actions.*