One Struggle, One Fight!
from No Compromise Issue 7
 

By Tony Wong

After spending 12 days on hunger strike in jail and over 2 months on home detention, I entered the courtroom once again to face the biggest animal abuser of them all--our government. On February 24th, 1997 I went before juvenile judge James Payne for sentencing after being arrested in a blockade of a parking lot entrance to Lazarus, a Federated department store, which still sells animal skins as coats and coat trim. I was offered 6 additional months of probation, fines to exceed $1000, a court order to stay away from Lazarus stores, an order to not associate with over 15 activist friends and an order to reimburse my parents for fines.

Seeing as how restrictive these terms were and realizing the mistake I had made two months previous for accepting an unjust punishment of probation, I told the judge I would serve a reasonable amount of community service or serve time in jail. I was completely unwilling to pay any amount of money to the animal murderers and their government protectors. Fighting for the liberation of our enslaved animal brothers and sisters is by no means a crime and therefore should not be punished but rather encouraged.

SENTENCING

The judge denied the less costly alternative of community service and instead excersized his state sanctioned power by ordering me to the Department of "Corrections" (DOC)--I suspect pressure from Lazarus played a big part in the court's final decision to imprison me.His recommendation was 6 months in the DOC, but the actual length was to be determined by the particular prison facility I would be placed in. I was convicted of three charges: Tresspass, Criminal Recklessness and Resisting Law Enforcement--all misdemeanor charges. The violation of probation charges were dismissed and all pending cases were closed. A battle had then begun.

JAILED!!

The first two days were spent in the county detention center. The second day I was on lock-down (solitary) "preparing" to be taken to the Logansport Juvenile Diagnostic Intake Facility. Here I would be assessed as to which juvenile prison I would be placed in to serve my time.

Upon arriving at Logansport I was put into an inmate unit with 15 others. I spent one week here while awaiting transfer to a permanent prisoner facility. Then the final decision was made for me to be transferred to the medium-security Indiana Boy's School (IBS) in Plainfield, 45 min from my home. I would be leaving much earlier than the 25 others awaiting transfer to IBS because of my hunger strike and the pressure it placed on the institution to rid themselves of responsibility for me.

TRANSFERRED

I arrived at Plainfield filled with hope--I knew I had made the right choice by not paying fines to those who slaughtered innocent life and not award an authoritarian system that protects amoral businesses and imprisons non-violent activists. I had come to the realization that the only thing they could do to us for standing up for the Earth and Animals is to confine our bodies--never our minds.

At Plainfield, I was put into one of the less violent inmate units, Cottage 5 as they called it, after spending the first night in lock down in the maximum security unit. My minimum sentence was set for 60 days, yet the prison could cause my stay to extend indefinitely and without limit based upon "my" behavior. Basically, the uncertainty of prison time is used to invoke fear and obedience within the juvenile inmate population. In most cases it keeps people in line or further institutionalizes them with longer sentences.

My communication with the outside was limited to daily collect calls to my lawyer, weekly calls to friends and visits with family on the weekend. Eventually I found out about the Syracuse 3's demand for anti-leg hold trap legislation in the US and EU and joined them in solidarity for the demands. Then on March 13th, Stacy Schierholz was sentenced to the DOC by Magistrate Rogers for 3 counts of violation of probation and one of Resisting Law Enforcement. Incidentally, Stacy had already completed two of the three probation requirements and was proven in court to be 'wrongfully arrested' on FFF yet still convicted of the Resisting charge. In addition to the same conditions offered to myself, Stacy was asked to apologize to Lazarus. As if the courts wished to make the decision easier, she refused all these conditions and was sent to the Indianapolis Girl's School. During her imprisonment the jail held her incommunicado in an attempt to break her spirit. They had failed.

FORCE FEEDING!!

For the first 30 days of hunger strike, Indianapolis experienced a virtual media blackout. Not until the state decided to violate my Constituitional and Human rights by force feeding me, did the media cover the story. Despite attorney intervention, a pending Federal lawsuit to stop the feedings and lack of parental consent, the prison continued in its brutal, nasogastric tube feedings from day 31 until my release a month later. A lawsuit was filed in Federal court to get an injuction against the feeding of the formula which contained milk products. Not only were the feedings a blatant violation of fundamental human rights, but it also violated my First Amendment of freedom of religion--that is, freedom of practicing my deeply held ethical beliefs to consume NO animal products.

While the lawsuit proved to be unsuccessful during my imprisonment, I still chose to passively resist their physical assaults and at the same time publicized the truth to the newly attentative news media whenever the opportunity arose. The public now began to question the juvenile judicial and "correctional" systems and the lack of respect for the rights of individuals under the age of 18. At the same time, the issue of animal rights was entered into public discussion and many people were exposed, through the lawsuit filed, to the idea of veganism as a legitimate moral and ethical belief.

I was released on April 25th, hours before Stacy Schierholz was released 1 1/2 months earlier than expected. Obviously they had felt the pressure AND always had the ability to release us early (to the contary of what they were telling us). Both of us were discharged, released without probation or any other restrictions. We had won against a formidable, inherently unjust system and exposed the realities of their corruption and abuse.

THROUGH SACRIFICE COMES CHANGE

Knowing that my imprisonment faltered in comparison to the torture chambers of the animals, I held my head high as I entered into the world of physical confinement, with the strength of the Liberation movement by my side. I began the hunger strike, refusing all food and drink except for water, to assert ultimate control over my own body and to protest the injustice inflicted upon me for working to end human domination over nature. By risking injury or death to my body by refusing nourishment, I placed considerable pressure on the system though . Not only does the hunger strike highlight the system's twisted and unfair execution of injustice, but it also draws attention to the urgency of the animals' treatment and to what extent we are willing to fight for Total Liberation. Philosophy becomes a foundation for change when ideas are put into action. Without putting ourselves at risk or making sacrifice, Animal and Earth Liberation will not become realized in time to save those who depend on us most: the animals.

This is one more victory on the road to Liberation, one which was accomplished by the movement as a whole, working together by protesting, hunger striking, demonstrating, and direct action to achieve the ultimate goal of Total Liberation. Where the system has attempted to weaken our struggle, they have only made us stronger. What more can they possibly do other than beat our bodies or lock us up? Nothing. We are an unstoppable force, gaining momentum with each victory.

We will see an end to the Animal Holocaust--sooner rather than later. We will win this war...for the animals!!