Posts Tagged ‘vegan’

Ellen Ericksen – abusers really wish she would just be quiet!

Friday, November 17th, 2017

Those who actively abuse animals or benefit from their enslavement want to ignore us. And, clearly, Ellen Ericksen makes that impossible. This article almost screams “Why doesn’t she just shut up?” And I think it outlines a brilliant example for any activist fighting against the injustice that permeates our society. Never relent. Never be silent. Know that wherever you are, you may be the only person speaking for the oppressed. What I love most about Ellen is that she’s a Lone Wolf — following her own conscience to the exclusion of all else. I’ve taken the liberty of adding a few comments in brackets to help out Erik Davis who seems a bit confused sometimes. -Camille

Ellen is the leader of the anti-SeaWorld movement in San Diego.

Courtesy of Erik Davis (Awesome Ocean)

Want to get to know who’s behind the protest at SeaWorld San Diego each week? Want to know who will say anything to convince you of her crusade?

Meet Ellen from San Diego. If you live in the area, you may recognize her from TV. She has perfected screaming in righteous indignation. She has the all important bull horn – a staple in the activist tool bag. She’s the leader of the protests in front of SeaWorld San Diego.

She’ll do anything to force her world view on you.

Why would someone engage in that kind of activity? The better question is, why would you follow this person?

While sympathizing with Ellen in the wake of viewing the movie Blackfish may seem easy, the truth behind her activism may prompt more regular people to reconsider her version of the truth.


A vegan in the path of Irma

Friday, September 8th, 2017

Camille Marino
September 8, 2017

We all just witnessed the devastation wreaked in Houston by Hurricane Harvey; the human toll gets enough coverage. I’m far more concerned with the nonhuman victims. I shared our community’s outrage over the companion animals left abandoned or tied up by their cowardly guardians who took their own sorry selves and fled for safety. And now I’m sitting home in Florida watching the monster Hurricane Irma bearing down on us. This morning’s projections have it hitting dead center inland coming straight at me. I’ve never experienced such an event before, and I’m not one to overreact. But what was initially a fascination with the atmosphere has morphed into an outrage that is almost tangible. But what about all the beings in this state who were put into bondage by humans who profit from their misery.

There are thousands of monkeys in cages on breeding farms in Hendry county. Can’t run. Can’t escape. Just sitting there waiting for almost certain death while their captors stay warm and safe, protected from the torrential winds and flooding. What about all the animals imprisoned in tanks at Seaworld? They will suffer alone, terrified with no protection, and possibly die in the tombs in which their captors made them live. What about the zoos? The petting and tourist photo attractions? What about every animal exploitation industry in this state? I’m sure it won’t be too much of an inconvenience for the architects of death. After all, these living beings are only property, most likely insured, so if they lose their lives, they will be easily replaced. After all, there’s no shortage of slaves.


Being whole after the war

Thursday, August 24th, 2017

I feel like a soldier who’s just returned from the battlefield. I’m not the same person I was when I took my first steps; I don’t think the same way, I don’t interact with people in the same way, and I’ve definitely been forever stripped of my naivete about the motivations of those who comprise our community. While women or those who female-identify are responsible for up to 85% of the actual hands-on work for the animals, it is primarily a patriarchy of white men who are responsible for maintaining their reputations, their brand names, and their donation base at the expense of the animals. Going forward, I think one of my main focuses will be on personal empowerment; if we want to be effective for the animals, unfortunately, we also need to be whole and focused in the sea of toxicity that pollutes our community. So for continuity, I’m republishing a Facebook status I put up last night.

Camille Marino
August 24, 2017

I talk from a place of honesty; whether it an expression of anger or joy, I think people connect with authenticity. And right now I’m in a state of evolution, not saying much. I’m coming back from a literal public lynching – an evisceration of my reputation, my work, and all of its related personal devastation. I survived, but not without damage. And while I get ready to publish my memoir and finish filming for a documentary about my activism — both painfully honest — I’m trying to learn how I can best benefit animals at this point in my journey. I’m thinking that what I need to be doing is share my struggles with other activists to help empower you. I’ve yet to meet anyone is this movement who’s not been damaged by all the suffering we see.


Fri, Sept. 8 – Sun, Sept 10: Free Visions of Change Workshop in Florida

Thursday, July 27th, 2017

My Office in Wildwood, Florida (about an hour north of Orlando)

I went vegan and became an activist because I was horrified — in absolute disbelief — at the injustices animals are made to endure; it was because I wanted to create real change. That’s why every single one of us is here. Unfortunately, everyone wanted me to write a check, pay for a conference, buy a t-shirt, or eat for the animals. Very few seasoned activists would give me anything practical. What could I do? What could one person do? I now know the answer: one person can do a lot! I want to give you the tools and information you need and help you focus in on your own Vision of Change for your own community.

Spend a weekend in central Florida. Your only expenses are your own food and transportation. You’ll have free access to an Olympic-sized pool, a full gym, woods to take a walk and talk. Let’s figure out where your passion lies and how you can focus your energy most effectively. You’ll go home knowing:

  • how to research and find out what’s going on in your area;
  • who’s harming animals and where;
  • how to start a campaign and recruit supporters;
  • how to use your information effectively;
  • how to use the Internet effectively;
  • how to secure your computers, your information, and your best options for cyber communication.

There are other things I want to teach you but will not discuss it online. I want you to know how to deep research an abuser so that you know everything about them and their family; I want you to know what tactics and strategies have worked for me. And I want to help you figure out exactly what you want to be doing.

I have my own vision: to have focused, aggressive, informed, and well-equipped grassroots activists rising up in every community around the country to take personal responsibility for forcing change. I want us to learn to share our information and resources. As basic as that may sound, the AR community has a cottage industry of patriarchs and nonprofits who want you to pay to hear them talk. They don’t want you to have information because that info is how they get donations. I think it’s time to change the dynamic.

If there is any interest, I am hoping to give these workshops monthly and grow an army. Feel free to leave a comment, write me at, or text me at 352-702-5143.


Camille Marino
July 27, 2017

A philosophical discussion of vegan food production

Wednesday, July 26th, 2017

I posted this video yesterday in my group, Negotiation is Over — a group I created based on zero tolerance for animal abuse and exploitation — with a caption that read in part “I fully support this.” I expected to have my colleagues jump on me for advocating degrees of animal slavery (and they rightfully did), but I was looking for something else. I was looking for a deeper understanding and discussion of how we get our vegan food, an acknowledgement that none of us is pure. And I’m afraid that putting personal purity above practicality is antithetical to everything for which I stand.

I saw someone say that they would not rescue a cat because a cat is an obligate carnivore. Having such a responsibility for a cat – an animal that humans chose to domesticate and who is now dependent on us! – would interfere with his veganism. Well, if vegan purity takes precedence over saving an animal’s life, this is not a form of veganism that I acknowledge or would even waste my energy trying to understand.

In 2012, I spent just under 2 weeks handcuffed, shackled, and sealed inside a dark claustrophobic tomb (i.e., extradition). I thought I was going to die. Having survived, I am grateful for having had the privilege of glimpsing the world from the vantage point of a factory-farmed animal who spends his or her life in intensive confinement. My experiences have disabused me of any sanctimony. I no longer have the luxury of operating on any other level that one of absolute honesty — no matter how inconvenient.

I have the word “vegan” tattooed on my back. I am proud of who I am and what I believe. But that word only means I try to do the least harm. The mass produced vegan food I buy is fertilized with factory farm waste. If I buy from local farmers’ markets, I know that they are also imprisoning and murdering sentient beings, their waste most likely having gone to fertilize my produce.  I would never suggest that it’s okay to keep a slave as long as they’re treated well, which is essentially what I was doing in advocating this video. So which of our options is most vegan? The truth is that I don’t know. And I saw no solutions offered. I am offended by the use of the oxen, but buying vegan food that is dependent on factory farming disturbs me even more. I think I am a philosophical primitivist; I would starve if I were an actual one.

Would I risk my life or freedom to liberate the oxen from Sivarami Swami? Hell no. Would I risk my life or freedom to liberate a victim from a vivisection lab or factory farm? Any day of the week. I guess that’s where my purity lies.



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

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:

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.

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
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.


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.


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.


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.”


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