The few, the brave — The ALF wants you!
Camille A. Marino
April 28, 2018
When new activists ask “how do I join the ALF,” they are essentially wanting to know how they can become effective instruments in the struggle for Animal Liberation. With all of the information that is available online, I think we all have a tendency to not engage the question seriously. The net result is that there are other insidious groups who will open their arms, embrace these individuals, moderate their ideas, dilute their potential effectiveness and divert their energies. New vegan activists are some of our potentially most important actors. We need to give every single one of them all the facts and information they need.
Where do you fit?
- The Animal Liberation Front (ALF) is an underground network, not a group or organization, that advances a philosophy of breaking into animal exploitation businesses, liberating the animals and/or doing property damage, but doing no harm to people. The only requirement for membership is that one must be vegan.
- The Animal Rights Militia (ARM) or the Justice Department are evolutions of the ALF, except that these more militant underground networks, in theory, embrace harming abusers.
First, figure out what you believe and where your comfort level lies. With which philosophy do your beliefs most closely align? Next, understand why more-seasoned activists are hesitant to answer your questions. Animals are viewed as property and so, at the very least, rescuing these beings from suffering is considered burglary. Further, our interference with disrupting an animal exploitation industry in any capacity may be a criminal offense. Not a single one of us should ever be talking to strangers about our covert actions, not about what we’ve done or with whom we’ve worked. We can rarely judge the character, motivations, and integrity of our associates and our community is rife with gossips, snitches, and infiltrators. This really is a learn-as-you-go program.
How do you join
There is no membership form, email address, or president overseeing operations. There is only one way to join the ALF or ARM — that’s by taking action. Please do not be discouraged by those who would have you believe that militant and confrontational direct action is counterproductive. Our movement seems to have been overcome by a notion that direct action means photo ops, street theater, and protest parties. That is not my definition of direct action and the less activists who adopt this mindset, the better.
If you know of a tourist attraction that imprisons nonhuman animals for entertainment, sneak in, open the cages, free the animals. You just joined the ALF. If you have a neighbor who keeps a dog or rabbit caged in their backyard, sneak in, open the cage, take the animal and find him/her a good home. You just joined the ALF. If you know where a vivisector or other abuser lives, throw a flaming molotov through their window in the middle of the night. You just joined the ARM. Your only constraints are defined by your own abilities. And your only reward is in knowing that you’ve just struck a blow for real justice. If you can gain access to a vivisection lab, factory farm, breeding facility or fur farm, have a defined goal and execute your plan. You have just become a freedom fighter.
There is no central ALF or ARM group collecting donations every time one of us acts. There are no pictorials on Facebook demonstrating our covert operations. Well, I’m lying; there are pictorials on occasion. A small group of us needed to go public earlier this year to raise money to rehome a pig we had just liberated. But we were all willing to assume that risk to do what needed to be done. If an animal is in immediate danger and one of us can intervene, it is our duty to do so. Figure out the details afterward. But, in general, have as many details as possible taken care of before you act. Will the newly-released animal(s) live free or will placement in a sanctuary be necessary? When can you enter the property with the greatest possibility of success? Do you have adequate transportation, equipment, etc.?
Finding others with whom to work
The safest course of action when negotiating the underground is to work alone. Be independent. But sometimes we need others to help us get the job done. Finding people with whom to work is the tricky part. If you’re new and don’t have a network of local activists, then go to protests, potlucks, or other events where vegans gather. You will find that these groups are largely composed of peaceful and non-confrontational advocates, although there are usually one or two people who think differently. We tend to gravitate toward one another. Be open to meeting like-minded allies, but be cautious. If someone is agitating and encouraging you to take action while their hands remain clean, run. You don’t want a provocateur or snitch to penetrate your inner circle. You want to engage those whose ideas and motivations are compatible with your own.
The threat of incarceration & security
Having been repeatedly jailed and prosecuted for my own activism, I can say with authority that jail is not a big deal. When we are guided by our conscience — to do what is morally right — there is nothing they can ever do to us that even remotely compares with the horror visited upon nonhumans. The possibility of spending a little time behind bars should never deter any activist from taking coherent, conscience-driven action. I will go to my grave encouraging every freedom fighter to ignore those oppressors who would rather have us all live in fear, trembling before them on our knees, not doing what is necessary because we’ve been paralyzed by security culture paranoia.
But having no fear does not mean we should be sloppy and simply offer our wrists to be handcuffed. When we’re in jail, our actions for the enslaved are stifled. So I strongly advise prudence and stress coherence. I have a friend who, rather than acting with forethought and planning, got drunk and attempted to ignite a revolution with a failed arson attempt. We must never be impaired at those times when we need to be at our sharpest. Adopt habits to protect yourself. Never use social media, texting, or email to discuss any sensitive action. Face to face communication is your friend. The internet is a tool that we all need to exploit; but when we’re talking about underground activity, it is the friend of law enforcement. Familiarize yourself with security protocol and make it a habit. Also understand that all the security in the world is useless if those with whom you work are careless. Again, face to face communication is the most secure.
Lastly, there are several manuals online to guide underground action. I will not discount the information contained, but I’ve yet to meet a single ALF activist who’s read one of them. It is my belief that a lot of information compiled on the subject of how to do an action was compiled by those who may not have ever acted themselves. I could be wrong. It happens on rare occasions. 🙂
Welcome to the movement. The ALF needs you. The ARM needs you. The animals need you!
Camille Marino is an activist, author, and former political prisoner. Her jailhouse diary, Danger to Society, and her memoir, #uncensored: inside the animal liberation movement, are tell-all books that document her decade in the struggle. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.