Interview with Craig Rosebraugh: E.L.F. Spokesperson targeted by Oregon Grand Jury
from No Compromise Issue 16
 

NC: Why are you choosing not to cooperate with this grand jury?

CRAIG: First and foremost, I am refusing to cooperate because this is an investigation into ALF and ELF activity during the last three years, activity that I strongly support. Secondly, the grand jury system is incredibly oppressive. Not only is a witness not allowed representation inside the proceedings in federal grand juries, but a witness does not have the right to take the Fifth Amendment [which states that one may refuse to testify on the grounds that it may tend to be self-incriminating] unchallenged. If a witness does take the Fifth and remains silent, that individual can be imprisoned on contempt charges for up to eighteen months or the remaining length of the grand jury. This is only if civil contempt is declared. The state still has the ability to file criminal contempt against a witness that can result in many years imprisonment. Grand juries, which came from England, were abolished there in 1933 on the grounds that they were a waste of resources and unjust. Yet in the US we still have them today. And they are no less oppressive.

NC: How has the community responded to your situation?

CRAIG: The local community in Portland has been fairly supportive of my stand against the grand jury system. At each recent grand jury date there have been protests outside the federal courthouse with some 100-150 people in attendance. Through the gaining publicity, we have been able to educate more and more people on the validity, success, and need for underground direct action. It is pleasing to know, too, that protests against this grand jury investigation and in support of the ELF and ALF have been increasing around the country.

NC: How has the grand jury been used to suppress support for the ALF & ELF and/or drive a wedge between above ground and underground movements?

CRAIG: Of course the state repression that the grand jury system is a part of has as one of its motives the breaking up of successful social movements. This has been and continues to be done in a variety of ways. From creating rifts within organizations to spreading misinformation, to labeling groups and individuals thereby creating negative stigmas, to constant harassment, the successful direct action movement is being hit with a growing amount of repression. Many individuals in the environmental community despise the ELF and its tactics out of some learned hypocritical white liberalism.

The Vail case is a good example. Immediately after the fire (which some sources indicate was more successful economically than first thought ($24 million in damages instead of $12 million), many organizations came out vocally against the action claiming that it was the worst thing that has ever happened to the movement. Yet the action itself was not the worst thing that has happened to the movement (arguably it may have been one of the best), the act of speaking out against it was.

What these groups, including Sierra Club (who in fact has been working with the FBI to solve the Vail case), did was do the state's work for them by creating a major division in the environmental movement. Those who support direct action vs. those who are afraid to as they may stand to lose some monetary donations. The fact of the matter is that no one can honestly state that the popular environmental and animal movements in the US are winning. The environment is worse off today than ever and there are arguably more animals killed and exploited today than ever. It is clear that the classic state-sanctioned means of social change are not working. It is time for something more. It is time for a dramatic increase in underground direct action.

NC: Why is it so important to speak out about the actions of the A.L.F. and E.L.F.?

CRAIG: It is of extreme importance. Speaking out about the ELF and ALF actions gives the underground organizations a public means of expressing their ideologies to a wider audience. Many of the actions that have gone on in the last few years in the US may have only received scarce press attention limited to the immediate applicable geographic area. With the work of press officers, the publicity has gone nationwide and international, and it is growing. It is also crucial to publicize the actions to let the message reach as many people as possible, the message being that the ELF and ALF actions are growing and they are made up of individuals that could be anyone. The ELF and ALF could, should, and needs to be you, your friend, and your neighbor.

NC: Do you think the government fears support for the ALF & ELF growing when there is public representation of their actions through spokespeople such as yourself?

CRAIG: Yes, definitely. I feel one, if not the, major goal of the federal grand jury investigation in Portland is to shut me up. During the raid on my home, vehicle, and former office on February 2, the ATF, FBI, and US Forest Service seized hundreds of items of property. This was an obvious attempt to stop me from publicizing ELF actions. Furthermore, the constant grand jury and federal agent harassment is meant to break me, to pressure me into stopping the necessary work I do.

NC: How do you think we can put an end to the corrupt grand jury system?

CRAIG: There needs to be an incredible strong support network in this country for anyone facing government harassment resulting from their work against this oppressive US government and capitalist ideology. This means anytime anyone under this category is faced with a grand jury, or indicted on charges, every attempt must be made to show massive support in the way of protests, public education, and underground direct action. In addition, grand juries operate under the assumption that they can get people to give them information to aid in their investigation. If this does not occur, if people refuse to give information, the grand jury system will be ineffective. To fully understand the grand jury system, one has to fully understand state repression and its history in the US of targeting successful social movements. Once this information is obtained and processed, it becomes clear that to stop it means to work to stop the entire corrupt system. And to do that is going to take an extreme amount of direct action. It's time to get to work.

NC: In what other ways have authorities tried to intimidate you?

CRAIG: There has been a mixture of methods over the last three years. There has been the monitoring, both obvious and not so obvious, continually. My home, vehicle, and former office were raided, and virtually everything I used on a daily basis was stolen by authorities. I have not received one piece of my property back. I have also been targeted locally with police violence. Last year the Portland police severely broke my arm during a protest in support of Mumia Abu Jamal. In addition, other methods have been present here as well, including death threats and the spreading of misinformation.

NC: How has all of the repression you've faced affected your health/mental state?

CRAIG: You have to first realize that one of the goals of state repression is to wear you down, to break you and to force you into submission. Realizing this, it is a lot easier to remain in a calm mental state. Sure I suffer from anxiety and stress, but I am positive I suffer far less than if I had a wife, 3.5 children, a new house in the suburbs, a new BMW, and I was stressing over whether to get the red SUV or blue one.

NC: What keeps you going through all of this harassment?

CRAIG: The realization that what the ELF and ALF are doing is correct. The realization that I support underground direct action aimed at destroying the capitalist ideology, and I want it to increase, dramatically. The realization that in my conscience I know that I am doing what is right.

NC: What advice would you give to others facing government repression?

CRAIG: First, it needs to be exposed and support needs to be gained. Exposing the vicious thugs who serve the state greatly weakens their tactics. Second, look deep within yourself and realize that what you are doing is correct and the state cannot take away your spirit. Then organize as much as possible against the repression.

NC: How did you get involved in the animal rights movement? What kind of activities have you participated in?

CRAIG: I became involved in 1990 after writing a research paper on vivisection. The more I read, the more I could not believe the insanity that is tolerated particularly in the US. I then became involved in a local animal rights group in Portland. In 1996, I co-founded Liberation Collective in Portland and worked with that group until January 2000. I have been involved in various activities including organizing conferences against vivisection, organizing national tours against vivisection, lecturing at schools and conferences nationwide, participating in civil disobedience actions against Sak's, Seattle Fur Exchange, various primate centers, and more. In addition I have organized numerous multi-issue campaigns and protests locally. And, of course, I have worked to publicize actions of the ELF and at times the ALF from 1997 through the present.

NC: It's possible that you will be spending quite a bit of time in jail - how do you feel about that and how are you preparing yourself?

CRAIG: It doesn't please me, but obviously I don't think anyone is pleased by the thought of imprisonment. I make every attempt to keep it all in perspective though. Again, I know that what I am doing is correct. My spirit cannot be damaged as long as I do not let it be. I also realize that jail is just a more obvious example of the oppression that already exists in society. For most Americans, living inside this country is a sort of prison, just a little more hidden. Unless you are a wealthy white capitalist male, most likely there are bars around you. These bars become more apparent as your perceived threat to the state grows. This could occur from you merely being poor, non-white, or working against the idea that profits come before life.

NC: What direction would you like to see the movement head?

CRAIG: I would like to see people around the country realize that a dramatic increase in underground direct action is needed to further today's social movements. This is obvious as we are going up against corporate rule, the capitalist ideology, and state violence and repression on a day to day basis. I would also like people to realize that you don't need to be a tactical expert to become involved in underground groups and movements. The realization that is needed is that economic sabotage works, is working, and will ultimately aid tremendously in advancing social movements. Believe in the classic phrase, IF NOT YOU, WHO?...IF NOT NOW, WHEN?

NC: What do you think are the most effective tactics to use in this war against the status quo?

CRAIG: Heavy underground direct action mixed with an above ground base of public support.

NC: Any further comments?

CRAIG: Read Weather Underground. Apply tactics.