Archive for July, 2017

Tools to Bypass the USDA Animal Abuse Database Deletion

Friday, July 21st, 2017

When the USDA took its animal abuse database offline in February, some activists were concerned that they would be unable to adequately research their campaigns. The deleted info is still public, however; the state is simply making it more difficult for us to obtain. I’m guessing that, aside from the big welfare orgs, not many activists had even seen the deleted database. So this is a great time for grassroots activists to add some tools to their repertoire.

What is the USDA hiding?

The state claims that it fears for the safety of its federally-funded animal abusers. Therefore, it defends deleting this database which basically allowed us:

  • to easily find abusers by location;
  • to determine how many animals are in a the possession of a given business;
  • and it allowed us to examine annual inspection reports of said business.

Much of what is gone is still readily available. It may just take a little longer to connect all the dots.

Finding Federally-Funded Abusers

Apparently, animal abusers want to hide the animals they abuse, but they don’t seem to have any problem applying for grants, writing research papers, and buying homes.

The NIH Reporter database contains a wealth of information about abusers across the country funded through the National Institutes of Health. Click the hyperlink and type in the name of your local university, business, or breeder at the line for “Organization;” choose “Submit Query” at the bottom of the form. If you don’t know what businesses are in your backyard, enter your city and state in the appropriate fields and hit “Submit Query.” This will tell you how much taxpayer money is flowing into any given institution annually. Please note: these grants cover legitimate research as well as fraudulent vivisection so one needs to be diligent in searching through this data.

In a few weeks I will be announcing a free workshop that will teach activists to thoroughly research abusers, acquiring a wealth of personal information, and how to initiate a comprehensive & strategic campaign to shut them down. The NIH Reporter is a good place to start and familiarize yourself with the data. Feel free to contact me at eleventhhour@riseup.net if you are interested in learning more.

Filing FOIAs and state-level open records requests

Armed with your information from the NIH, you are ready to file both state-level open records requests as well as federal Freedom of Information Act requests to begin to connect the dots. Federally-funded experiments are considered “public records” and so you are entitled to begin to penetrate the labs legally. The basic difference is that FOIAs will go to federal agencies such as the USDA and open records requests will go to the recipients of federal grants like universities.

1) It is vital to file open records requests with your targeted university or business. This letter generator provided by Student Press Law Center allows you to fill in the items you seek and other contact information and it will print out a legally-cited letter according to the state in which you are filing. You are entitled to ask for:

  • protocol(s) for the experiment(s) you seek (protocols tell you in layman’s terms exactly how they intend to torture the animals, who is funding the experiment, the duration of the experiment and, most importantly, who is responsible for the immediate hands-on mutilation and who is supervising it);
  • vet records and daily lab charts for the animals being harmed in the experiment (the vet records will give you a snapshot of the agony the victims endure on a daily basis, but they will also give you the names of breeders, drivers, and other individuals who are the tertiary targets for any comprehensive anti-viv initiative);
  • all images and/or video that exist for the experiment.

2) Filing federal FOIAs has become essential in order to secure USDA inspection reports. Do not be distracted by welfare issues; remember that welfare simply defines legalized torture. But these reports will tend to illuminate certain issues in the labs (or other business) or give pictures and other details about the animals. iFOIA.org provides a federal letter generator that works in the same manner as the state-level one discussed above. You may register for iFOIA HERE.

Camille Marino
eleventhhour@riseup.net
July 21, 2017

An Essential Guide for Activists: Comprehensive Basic Security

Thursday, July 20th, 2017

the following smart phone info applies to androids. i would assume it can be adapted for iphones as well.

Why do you need security?  Because you’re an activist!

I am far from a security expert; I have no technical background whatsoever. I am, however, an expert on being raided and having my privacy repeatedly violated by law enforcement (LE). Do they really need your compromising pictures?! Nothing will protect you 100% online. They’ve penetrated and seized entire dark web criminal enterprise sites. So if they want you, they’ll get you. But we can sure as fuck take steps to protect your privacy

Passwords

Your system is only as secure as your password. A “brute force” attack is where a program tries to crack your password by trial and error. I believe that our only real protection is in using a password that will potentially take years to crack.  16-character passwords have been cracked by hackers in under an hour. So I don’t believe estimates that it will take 50 years to crack a complex 64-character password; nonetheless, even if it takes a year or two, time is your friend here.

Whole-Disk Encryption

The first and most basic measure you need is disk encryption. This means that if your device is in the physical possession of LE, they have to break in first to be able to access your drive. I prefer encryption systems that will wipe your drive if the wrong password is entered 10 times. I know, none of us wants to lose all the data we’ve accumulated. But your personal information is better gone than in the hands of someone — LE or an identity thief — who will use it against you. Everything I discuss is open-source, unless otherwise noted.

LAPTOPS

I liked TruCrypt because if anyone entered my password wrong 10 times, my drive would wipe and the device would become useless. Since TruCrypt is no longer maintained, my research suggests that VeraCrypt is the best open source (non-corporate) tool available. I have a tech who sets up my encryption for me, I use my complex password, and once it’s set up, it is transparent. Just do it. You never have to think about it again.

SMART PHONE

Encrypt your android through your security settings and set it to wipe and revert to factory settings if your password is incorrectly entered 10 times. I respect Apple for refusing a government subpoena last year demanding they decrypt the phone of an alleged terrorist. However, someone did, in fact, break the encryption. If they are intent upon accessing your data, they will. Data can be retrieved even after a factory reset. A good habit is to use an iShredder app during routine maintenance.

Get in the habit of powering down whenever you leave the house. If you run to the store and leave your laptop open it defeats the purpose. No one is going to make an appointment to come raid your house or rob you. It happens when you least expect it. Be prepared.

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) & Tor

So you decrypted your device and you’re ready to get online. Not yet. As soon as you connect to the internet, your provider (Comcast, Verizon, etc) can see everywhere you go and log all of your activity. If LE ever subpoenas them, they will hand it right over. No concerned with the state? Supposing you Google “popular murder methods” out of sheer curiosity and your next door neighbor is murdered. The “evidence” would seem to point to you. Let me disabuse you of any misconceptions like “if I didn’t do anything, I have nothing to hide.” No one cares about your guilt or innocence where LE is involved. It’s about winning and losing period. Maybe you’re more concerned about protecting your identity online. You need a VPN. It will  route your traffic through a third-party proxy so that your provider can’t spy on what you do online. It will hide your IP so you cannot be identified, but it does not completely anonymize the user.

LAPTOPS

I only trust two VPNs, both user-friendly (i.e., EASY) and neither keeps any records of what you do once you connect. You can choose the location you wish to connect through. These are not open-source so there is a fee. If you really want to protect your identity, you can pay with Bitcoins. (A separate post will be published about cryptocurrencies and tails). You can compare IPVanish and NordVPN and decide which you like best.

Tor is a browser like Firefox that will anonymize you on the web (it hides your identifying information such as browser or operating system). You may download Tor here and there is a lot of information on the site about how it works. It’s a good idea to read up on the background and how you should use it most safely (e.g., don’t make the browser full screen, turn off java script, etc).

SMART PHONE

Bitmask is free and easy to use. It will divert your traffic through Montreal. You will need to open up a Riseup Black account and may download the android software there or through Google Play. The instructions to set it up are simple. Download, log in with your black account, turn it on.

In order to access the Tor on your android, you need to download Orbot and Orfox from Google Play. Simply explained, Orbot is a server that connects to the Tor network. It needs to be running in the background. Orfox is your browser that will connect through Orbot.

VPNs and Tor are intended to protect your identity to make your online experience as safe as possible. If you want to check your public IP as well as how much of your information may be leaking out, JonDo is an amazing resource. Click here to do their IP check.

Encryption

Regular PGP (pretty good encryption) allows people to exchange communications in code. Each party exchanges their keys allowing them to unlock each other’s messages. OTR (off the record) is a type of encryption where the key only works for the duration of a conversation then disappears. If someone gains access to your device, they can read all of your old messages if they find your key. With OTR, no one will ever be able to read them again.

LAPTOP

GPG4win is a free pgp system that you can download here. And Deepdotweb published this excellent step-by-step tutorial for beginners.

SMART PHONE

We use text and messengers for everything. This may be the most important information for some. You need to encrypt and protect your chats. A messenger that gets some rave reviews is Signal. DON’T use it. Don’t trust any anonymity app that wants to trace you through your phone number.

ChatSecure may be downloaded through Google Play. It encrypts your chats while you are communicating and then erases them. It transmits through the Tor network (Orbot on your phone) and records nothing on your phone’s drive. This manual will walk you through how to install and set it up. I prefer this method.

Conversations (Jabber/XMPP) can be downloaded through Google Play for $2.49. It is more user friendly which may make it preferable. If your friends won’t use a security app, it makes it worthless. You can also use OTR with Conversations which makes it a very nice option.

Please let me know if you have any questions, need help, or if you have anything to add to this guide.

 

Beef farmer regrets killing animals: turns vegan & liberates cows

Wednesday, July 19th, 2017

Jay Wilde stand with his remaining saved cows. A lifelong cattle farmer has given his 40,000 herd of cows to an animal sanctuary. Pic by Luke Johnston / Caters News

by Tanveer Mann
Courtesy of metro.uk

Jay Wilde, 59, moved his herd of 63 cattle to the sanctuary more than 150 miles from his farm in Ashbourne, Derbyshire, as he could not bear to see them killed.

The 59-year-old organic farmer felt so guilty taking his cattle to slaughter that he completely changed his business, growing wheat to be used for bread instead.

But he’s kept a handful of the cows on the farm to provide natural fertilizer for his crops.

Jay said: ‘I feel so much better farming this way. It’s a weight off my shoulders. It’s certainly not a normal thing to do as a farmer, but I’m happy about it.

‘I miss the cows, however it’s nice to think of them living a nice life in a sanctuary now. It just became more and more difficult taking them to slaughter.

‘You know they have thoughts, dreams, and personalities, so being taken to be killed was a horrible experience for them too.

‘I took that on board. It made sense. I was already questioning whether what I was doing was right.

‘I was put in touch with the Vegan Society and they suggested other types of farming to me.

‘When I agreed to begin farming crops instead of animals, I had no idea what to do with the cows.

‘They suggested that I could give them to sanctuaries, which seemed right, but we were expecting to have to give them away in twos and threes and for it to be a very long, complicated process.

‘However, Hillside Animal Sanctuary came forward and said they could take all of them. It was remarkable.

‘I’m glad to have saved them from that. Giving them away was definitely the right option.

‘I run a vegan farm now and selling the cows to be slaughtered did not seem like the right way to get the business started.’

Jay’s family bought the farm in 1956 and he grew up helping his dad to run it.

It was originally a dairy farm until his father’s death in 2011. After taking it over completely, Jay turned it into an organic beef production farm.

However, he found taking the cows to the slaughterhouse increasingly upsetting.

He also hosts festivals on his farm, and some attendees expressed their discomfort about attending a celebration on his farm when cows were sent to slaughter.

After one such festival, he was put in touch with the Vegan Society, who advised him that he could send his cattle, 30 of which were pregnant, to a sanctuary.

Jay said: ‘One of the people attending said some people were unhappy celebrating in a beef farm.

‘I took that on board. It made sense. I was already questioning whether what I was doing was right.

‘I was put in touch with the Vegan Society and they suggested other types of farming to me.

‘When I agreed to begin farming crops instead of animals, I had no idea what to do with the cows.

‘They suggested that I could give them to sanctuaries, which seemed right, but we were expecting to have to give them away in twos and threes and for it to be a very long, complicated process.

‘However, Hillside Animal Sanctuary came forward and said they could take all of them. It was remarkable.’

Read more: http://metro.co.uk/2017/06/14/farmer-gives-up-herd-of-cattle-to-animal-sanctuary-after-becoming-vegetarian-6707557/#ixzz4nH6qfPcH

Does being vegan make you an animal activist? Nope!

Tuesday, July 18th, 2017

my own new york style pizza: sauteed tofurky italian sausage, green & orange peppers, daiya mozzerella, barilla spicy marina

I’ve spent some time learning how to cook in the recent past and I can make some really nice dishes. A friend from Israel showed me how to make homemade hummus and authentic Middle Eastern “vegetable balls.” I can make pizza or pumpkin pie. Sometimes I like my version of Macho Nachos with guacamole, salsa, crumbles, melted cheeze and chips. Of course there’s always fresh fruit and veggies in the house. And I kind of take pride in making very colorful salads, sometimes with chick*n strips. Doesn’t matter what I’m in the mood for. I know how to make a cruelty-free satisfying version. I am vegan. And proud of it. But that doesn’t mean I’m doing anything to help the animals…

Eating is not activism.

When I turn my focus toward freeing a given animal or identifying an abuser, I am obsessive in my determination to see my project through to completion. That is not what I’m doing at this point in time. I finally came to terms this morning with the fact that I am not an activist. An activist rescues and liberates animals, shuts down and sabotages abusers. Period. Everything in between is noise.

I’m only focused on building my network, reaching out through my blog, re-establishing myself on social media, getting ready to promote my soon-to-be published book. I want to ultimately be able to reach out from wherever I am and ensnare abusers. I’ve developed a lot of tools and strategies over the last decade that will allow me to do exactly that. But, first things first, get my own house in order, then post the address of theirs! 🙂 And I’m going to try my best to reach out to other vegans who really want to build a base of advocacy with me. Let’s go forward together strong, deliberate, and intelligently.

We all spend a lot of time online. And we all have to accept that, unless we’re using the Internet as a tool, we’re not helping the animals in this forum. My message for Animal Liberation is the same whether I’m on Facebook, in court, or in jail. I nearly got my ass kicked on several occasions behind bars for refusing to back down to meat-eating psychopaths. Two weeks before I was released last time, I was moved to segregation, Lt. Allatorre telling me that “the inmates are uncomfortable eating meat in front of you.” While I remain proud of myself, I did nothing to help the animals – not arguing with meat-eaters in jail, and certainly not doing it online from my sofa.

I am not an activist today. Let’s call it a hiatus. But if you’re vegan like me and you know you should be doing more, then we need to talk.

CamilleMarino.com
eleventhhour@riseup.net

The Snitch, Bullying, and Gossip Culture in Animal Liberation

Tuesday, July 18th, 2017

by Karen Kline
Originally published by NAALPO
January 27, 2016

“Hey, guess who Alice fucked the other night!”

“Who? You know she’s always on Facebook flirting with men. Posting pics of her tattoos just to show off her boobs.”

“I know. She thinks she’s so hot. Well I heard that after the potluck on Tuesday she left with Joe. And you know his reputation. I heard he’s HIV positive.”

“What a bunch of frauds. She’s a whore. I heard she gangbangs cops. They deserve each other.”

“But don’t tell anyone I told you. I hate gossip.”

“Of course not. It’s our secret. “…. “OMG, Val, you’ll never guess what I heard. But you have to promise not to tell anyone….”

Well, actually, Alice is a sexually liberated woman, she has an ample bosom, some radical tats, and men are attracted to her confidence. And, despite our gossipers desperate attempts to throw themselves at Joe, their attentions were never returned because Joe is gay. I’m not here to fat shame, slut shame, or ugly shame. But if these things apply to you, don’t hate Alice ’cause you can’t get any! And don’t hate Joe ’cause he won’t give you a second look. The truth of the matter is that when Alice and Joe sneaked off on Tuesday, they were waiting until it was dark enough to figure out how they could penetrate the perimeter of a backyard fur farm where foxes and racoons were exhibiting signs of insanity, repetitive spinning in their tiny cages. And while our insipid cupcake-eating vegans were destroying Alice and Joe’s reputations, the enslaved animals in that backyard concentration camp were waiting patiently to have their necks broken and their fur ripped from their backs.

Forget security culture. Our community not only accepts, but facilitates and perpetuates, a culture of gossips, bullies, and snitches. These individuals are agents of the state who feed activists by whom they feel overshadowed to the government, clinking a glass of wine and hosting a Facebook celebration of twits in the process. And fuck the animals! All we need to say is “what have they done for the animals” as if that phrase excuses our own ineptitude and complicity. It’s all sport to those who sit behind a keyboard launching grenades at activists as they become collaborators with industrial abusers. So At War is on a mission to attack this insidious condition from the inside out. We shouldn’t have to fend off industrial abusers AND our own community. But we do. So let’s accept it and fortify ourselves.

First, as almost every prisoner knows or unfortunately will find out, it is when they are behind bars, when they are devocalized, that the cowards will come out in force with personal attacks, lies, and the universal “s/he isn’t vegan anyway.”

What are our options here? Should Joe and Alice broadcast their underground mission, jeopardizing their own freedom and that of the slaves who’s liberation is at stake? Or should they remain silent, comfortable with their own integrity and secure that they are warriors of conscience? For every single soldier, there is no choice. We act because we must. We act because our conscience dictates our course and, without us, the animals will live and die alone. Joe and Alice don’t fear jail. They fear ineffectiveness.

But unbeknownst to them, should they ever become ensnared by the state and find themselves in the domain of the storm troopers, they will not only have to fight for their own freedom against the enemy, but this is also when the cowards, bullies, and snitches will seize the moment, to kick our warriors while they are down. To eliminate activists by whom they feel threatened. To help the state rid the movement of people they simply don’t like so they can go back to eating their vegan cupcakes in peace. So they can wave a sign at traffic once a year outside a circus protest, buy an ALF t-shirt, and identify as an “activist.”

To mention names would simply allow drama queens a platform to pontificate to their useless followers. But we all know who they are. Take a look at Facebook. We all know some idiot with 5000 followers who will occasionally post some truism like “if you’re not vegan, you’re part of the problem.” Well that should get you a few 100 likes considering the only people you speak to are other vegans. Let’s put you behind bars with a towering tattooed meat-eating adversary, however. Then you can demonstrate what a pathetic coward looks like. Nonetheless, in between their “go vegan” statuses, these same people seem to serve the sole purpose of calling out, criticizing, and bullying other vegans while their followers cheer. Or leave comments like “really? well thank you for telling me. I’m going to block him/her.” STOP THE INSANITY!

If you are new and anyone is telling you to block someone else, you need to put on your vegan sneakers and run with everything you’re made of. No real activist worth their salt will ever out another activist unless they are a snitch, a collaborator, or present a threat to you and the animals. If women are being attacked for their sexuality, then you have wandered into the land of misogyny.

When we see activists bullying others from the safety of their keyboards, we need to learn to defriend and block them. When we see activists gossiping about other activists, we need to defriend and block them. When we see activists criticizing our prisoners, their strategies, their actions, these people need a baseball bat in the teeth. But in lieu of that, block and defriend them. The last thing any one of us on the frontlines needs to worry about is who in our own community is putting the knife in their back while the state has them in shiny new handcuffs.

Rather than concern ourselves with detractors and traitors, we simply need to acknowledge that they are all around us. Therefore, it behooves us to take notice of those around us, how they conduct themselves, and if they are simply blowhards sitting on a facebook perch or if they are genuine actors for animals in the real world. Posting atrocity after atrocity does not make one an activist. It identifies them as someone who has no effective form of activism. Yelling “go vegan” 100 times a day to 5000 other vegans does not make one an activist. It identifies them as an impotent vegan with no form of activism. But the real danger is listening to those who will write you to sabotage campaigns. Those who use social media to shame female activists or divert attention from the animals to participate in schoolyard fights. Are you on my side or their side? If you’re friends with them, then defriend me.

Your response should be “Gladly! I am on the side of the animals alone and will tolerate no distractions.”

One of the primary goals of At War is to recruit and strengthen our soldiers. When we are so immovable in our convictions and loyal to our own conscience, there is no one and nothing on the planet that can alter our course. We must care for ourselves first and above all. That means exercise, meditation, it means sober focus, it means adopting strategies that will liberate animals and employing our tactics with precision. It means tuning out everyone and everything except that inner voice that is telling you to act.

Act now.

The animals are waiting.

And when you need refuge from the gossip, distractions, and mainstream eunichs, we will be here to provide tools, support, and community. The animals are in a state of emergency.

And we are At War!

What every activist needs to know in case of an arrest

Monday, July 17th, 2017

CamilleMarino.com
July 17, 2017

The first time I walked into general population, I was befriended by a young girl called “Snook.” She was back in jail on a probation violation. She said to me that she would never take probation again, “Just put me in prison for a year and let me get it over with.” This made no sense to me. Why would anyone choose to be locked up if they could go home on probation? The simple truth is that most activists have no experience with the criminal system of injustice. We’re not criminals. Many of us enter the system with the misconception that we’re innocent until proven guilty. Once those handcuffs go on, an activist must understand that s/he is presumed guilty and will be treated accordingly.

NO ONE TALKS, EVERYONE WALKS

How many of us have heard this cliche? In theory, if no one talks, the state will have no evidence with which to proceed. When activists find themselves in an interrogation room, by all means, say absolutely nothing. What we may think is obvious, “animals are being murdered and it’s my duty to defend them” or “if I don’t call attention to the injustice, who will?”, will, in no uncertain terms, be used to lock you away for as long as they possibly can. However, when I advise an activist to remain silent, I don’t want anyone to misinterpret this as meaning everyone will walk. They won’t.

Please step back and take a hard look at your friends and associates. While many activists genuinely care about the animals, for many, our community provides little more than a social network; a place where their moral stand earns them likes on Facebook. When there are actual consequences, you will likely find yourself the only one standing as your friends team up with the state. The first time I was released from felony probation was in January of 2014. For several years, I had invested every ounce of my energy and every penny of my money into a comprehensive campaign to isolate and shut down the monkey labs inside the University of Florida. And in 2014, according to their own protocols, the monkeys inside UF were all scheduled to finish current experiments and be released or re-assigned by October of 2016. I remain confident those labs were almost history. I would never have imagined that those activists who ran when legal issues first arose would become the next and greatest obstacle with which I had to contend — fighting off my former friends who were now even more virulent than the vivisectors ever were. My former associates were successful in momentarily silencing me using similar methods to those employed by the vivisectors; I only won back my first amendment rights weeks ago on June 29. I am now back online. But those monkeys are all enduring new, even more grotesque tortures. The animals paid the ultimate price for my naivete. Sadly, I’m not unique. We can run down the list of our prisoners, many put there by brothers, uncles, and friends. It is my sincere hope that I can extinguish a little naivete and help you understand what to expect. If we don’t adequately protect ourselves, our activism suffers.

So expect nothing from anyone. You’re on your own. But if you know what to expect, you can come out stronger. Never snitch, even if everyone around you is running to the state. The object is to come through this experience with your integrity and your ability to resume your advocacy intact. If only one person is going to be standing at the end of the day, it needs to be you.

TAKING A PLEA

Obviously, you need to retain counsel and take his or her advice. But, like most activists, if you’re at the mercy of a public defender, again, you’re essentially on your own. When you consider your options, please keep the following facts in mind. They’re the things no one is going to tell you until it’s too late.

When you’re first charged with some crime of conscience, the goal is to scare the holy hell out of you. You’re charged with a felony — stalking is a popular offense for activists who protest or refuse to shut up — and you’re facing 5 or 10 years in prison. Please know that they’re hitting you with the maximum you could possibly get so they have some room to maneuver. You’re highly unlikely to ever do the maximum. They want you to take a deal. In fact, if every criminal defendant refused to take a plea and demanded a jury trial, the system would shut down. They don’t want the time and expense of a trial. They want a quick conviction, a win, so they can move on to the next defendant.

The first deal I was offered in 2012 was to plead guilty to everything and do the whole 10 years. Well, thanks for your generosity! The second plea was to do six months and be on probation for 3 years. That sounded pretty good to me. I’m not a criminal; probation didn’t seem problematic. So they dropped my stalking charge for an act of civil disobedience. I pleaded guilty to posting a message, a felony incurred for allowing a colleague to publish a graphic post about a vivisector on my site. I had no clue that after I did my six months, my constitutional rights would be suspended while I was on probation. I learned that probationary terms can be altered after the fact. Mine were amended to stipulate that if I even mentioned the University of Florida, if I jaywalked, if I did anything to violate my probation, I would be thrown in prison for no less than 5 years. A few months in, I was barred from activism entirely; if I handed out a “Go Vegan” leaflet, they could now lock me up. I would never have agreed to any terms that would have interfered with my work for the monkeys and they knew it. But once you take a plea, they have you.

In fact, after I thought I had done my time, UF did everything in their power to try send me to prison and shut down my campaign for good. Unsatisfied with the already-Draconian restrictions, my probation was finally amended to ban me from the Internet entirely. Mission accomplished. Fortunately, I had a very sympathetic probation officer who terminated my probation 2 years early.

While you are on probation, a privilege for which you get to pay, your probation will be violated if you miss a payment. You are drug tested regularly; if you smoke a joint, you’re going back to jail. If you have any interaction with law enforcement, you’re going back to jail. Your probation officer may show up at your door any hour of the day or night to search your house, open your drawers or look under your bed. If you agreed to pay restitution and fail to make a payment, you may be re-arrested. Depending upon how intent they are on eliminating your activism, probation can be brutal. I doubt I would ever take probation again. I would simply do my time in the first place and get it over with.

ONCE YOU’RE A FELON

You never stop being a felon. It will follow you for life. A lot of road blocks are put in the path of people caught in the justice system to ensure that they will re-offend. This is because recidivism is an asset on a balance sheet. A person’s continued incarceration ensures profits for the prison-industrial complex. The degree to which this will affect an activist will depend upon his or her unique situation. But I think the one thing that resonates for activists is that once you plead to any given offense, that label can be used against you repeatedly in future proceedings to demonstrate a pattern. While the sum total of my interaction with law enforcement was solely for my activism against vivisectors, my activism is now used against me regularly. Unscrupulous traitorous activists relabeled “vivisectors” as “college professors,” filing petition after petition citing my acts of civil disobedience and other forms of activism, arguing that I have demonstrated a pattern of “harassing college professors.”

IN SUM

Do what you know is right; the animals need every single one of us to give everything we have to secure them relief. And jail is really not a big deal if you know what to expect. But also know the individuals with whom you work; simply because you are an actor of conscience does not mean your colleagues share your dedication. Understand that a decision that looks good at the moment may have long-standing repercussions that could affect your ability to function effectively as an activist. The objective is to come through this experience with as little damage as possible. This is by no means meant to be a complete guide to navigating any circumstance. Others may have experiences to add that can help a colleague navigate an arrest and/or prosecution.

Review of “Rebel Hell: Disabled Vegan Goes to Prison” by Jan Smitowicz

Monday, July 17th, 2017

Available in digital or paperback on Amazon.

When Jan Smitowicz drove onto an Illinois highway in 2010, he had no way of knowing that his course into a nightmarish odyssey had all but been mapped out for him. The ordinary nature an illegal search and corresponding suspension of his constitutional rights shocks the conscience. But it is the demonstration of this element – that in the ordinary course of events our rights can arbitrarily be stripped away and re-assigned as privileges – that makes Rebel Hell essential reading.

Within the threads of social injustices and political struggle skillfully woven throughout this story, we are allowed to witness how one man thrust into a violent world of profitized dehumanization rises above his circumstances. With nothing left but an admirable courage of spirit and an indefatigable will to survive, we watch an individual who will not compromise his truth, despite dire consequences that lurk in the shadows. Jan takes the reader by the hand and with brutal intimacy exposes a machine designed to break a person — mentally, emotionally, physically, and financially. And in the depths of a desperate environment, this reader found herself laughing out loud with the author whose incisive wit slices through the inanity by which he is surrounded. There’s a voyeuristic thrill in peering into a prison cell and watching muscle-bound homophobes and misogynists get clobbered with their own ignorance; and sheer giggles when they don’t even realize it’s happening.

Rebel Hell thoroughly discusses the subject of how the prison-industrial complex profits from enslaving men and women inside the system, creating a caste system of felons, people who are disenfranchised for life and, thus, put on a path where recidivism is an asset on a balance sheet. We are inspired by Jan’s strength and resilience in rising above every injustice brought to crush him. But Jan also strips us of our ignorance. We are left with the unsettling knowledge that in reality, anyone who falls victim to the criminal system of injustice is guilty unless, and only if, s/he can afford to buy their innocence. Once the blinders are removed, we are forced to look into the abyss with new eyes, knowing that any one of us could be next.

Camille Marino
July 17, 2017