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Josh Harper

Resistance Volume 1 1-4, Volume 2 1 (1999-2001. Portland, OR. USA)

Earth Liberation Front 1997-2002 (2003. Second printing with new dedication and layout 2007. Portland, OR)

Leslie James Pickering grew up in Buffalo, NY. In the mid 90s he became involved in the local hardcore music scene. While attending shows in the surrounding area, he began reading the literature distributed there by local animal rights groups. Zines such as Holocaust (published by Animal Defense League founder Kris Qua) were his introduction to radical politics and support for underground direct action.

Like most kids who grow up in smaller cities, Leslie James left Buffalo as soon as he had the means. After a brief stint skateboarding in San Francisco (during which time he filmed for the underground skate video rarity “Heat Zone”) Pickering landed in Portland, OR. There, he met Craig Rosebraugh, and after a few years the two of them began publishing a newspaper called Resistance with other members of a group called Liberation Collective. At this same time, a group calling themselves the Earth Liberation Front began a series of arson attacks against companies involved in logging and other environmentally harmful practices. They sent their first media statement to Liberation Collective, and the rest of the story is what Pickering documents in Earth Liberation Front 97-02.

Consisting of reprints, interviews, and some original material, Earth Liberation Front 97-02 is a must read for those who wish to understand the beginnings of the Green Scare.

SHAC USA Volume 2, issues 2 and 4 (2002, Philadelphia, PA)

It is hard to describe the feeling of constant elation that I had working on the campaign against Huntingdon Life Sciences. After years of grassroots organizing it seemed that the movement was finally moving forward with speed and determination. News constantly poured in from all corners of the globe that a new target had been chosen- and eliminated. Everyone participating was energized, hopeful, and on the attack.

One of the reasons that so many people were inspired to take action against HLS was the SHAC USA newsletter. Each issue featured the groundbreaking graphic design work of Jake Conroy. His layouts and other artistry made each copy a pleasure to behold, and also left other organizations scrambling to improve the designs of their own publications. If you doubt that a periodical could prompt someone to pickup a sign, bullhorn, or brick, than you feel very different than the US Government. They were so threatened by Conroy’s print and web work that he was indicted in the SHAC 7 case, and received one of the longest sentences of all of the defendants.

These two issues of the newsletter date from 2002, which was an exciting time in the campaign. After Stephens Inc. had capitulated, thousands of people suddenly had faith that they could, in fact, change the world. We all knew that we were a part of something special, and I think that comes across in the text and imagery of of these two movement gems. Sure, we were cocky, our rhetoric sometimes went too far, and we weren’t always as organized or prepared as we claimed- but we walked our talk to the best of our ability and our efforts took the movement far.

SHAC USA newsletters, Various Issues (2001-2006, Philadelphia, PA)
Diaries From Hell (2001, Princeton Junction, New Jersey)
The Mandate & Strike Back – Shac Videos (2002, Philadelphia, PA)

Today marks the end of a very long journey for me. After more than two years on pre-trial release, eight months on house arrest, three years in prison, and three years on probation, my life is now my own again. As of this morning I no longer need to fill out monthly reports, open my home to law enforcement at any time without probable cause, give the government constant access to my e-mail and social media accounts, or stay confined within the western district of Washington. Best of all, I can return to the kind of organizing that I love and live the life of conscience that I committed myself to so many years ago.

The people who took away my freedom did not do so because I was breaking the law. In fact, they knew that I was not doing so. FBI documents show that I was under almost constant surveillance for years of my life. One field office after another followed me in an attempt to prove that I was “the nexus of illegal [animal and earth liberation related] crime in the Northwest.” They hired informants to befriend me, went through my garbage, paid off my mail carrier to write down the return addresses of my incoming mail, attempted to entrap me, raided my home… the list could go on and on. In the end they had some tapes of lectures I gave advocating forms of hacktivism, and for that speech activity I had my life interrupted for the better part of a decade. An appeals court later said this about my conviction: “Harper’s personal conduct does not cross the line of illegality; to punish him simply on the basis of his political speeches would run afoul of the constitution.” They then went on to uphold my conviction.

If all of the years stolen from me were not about crimes I had committed, what was the government’s motivation? The answer to that question is complex, but I believe the primary concern for the ruling class was that I had begun to see through their illusions of status and power. I know how grandiose- even absurd- that may sound, but please bear with me for just a moment. I was born to working class parents so poor that my first crib was made from a dresser drawer. My mother worked in convenience stores, cleaned homes, and toiled away her health in a frozen foods warehouse. My father was a Vietnam veteran who had survived a fire in the tank he was driving. The horror that he experienced in our government’s imperialist venture in south-east Asia colored every moment of our home life. He returned from his time in the army addicted to drugs, disabled, and in constant pain from shrapnel that was still lodged in his skull. He worked off and on as a mechanic and small time drug dealer. This is the situation that I was raised in, but I am not complaining. My parents loved me and my sister, and despite their mistakes they did their best to help me become a good person. My dad once saw two cops harassing a homeless man outside of a 7-11. They kept asking him if he was “an illegal” and made several references to his race, repeatedly calling him “amigo.” Everyone sat in their cars and watched. Everyone except for my dad, who got out and challenged the police. That moment taught me more than any private school or university ever could have. And while my mom couldn’t always afford the clothing that I selfishly demanded when I was kid, she never bowed down to anyone higher on the social ladder. When some entitled rich kid gave her shit at work, she gave it right back and then some. My heart swells with pride when I think about the warning she got from her bosses at one job: she was required to provide service to police officers and had better begin doing so or else she would be fired. After years of seeing the cops in Eugene, OR beat and harass the underclass she wouldn’t sell them coffee and doughnuts, and continued in her disobedience even when her job was on the line.

I always knew that no matter what my economic status was, that my life was just as valuable as that of a billionaire or a president. I do not care about their titles or money or connections, but I began to care an awful lot about their abuses of power. The wealthy elite, who strip this planet of its life support system, who benefit from racism, sexism, and homophobia, who view our non-human kin as machines for profit, who turn the masses against each other, are made of flesh and blood just like you and I. They want us to believe in corporate personhood because it distracts from the man behind the curtain, the vulnerable decision makers who use towers of steel and concrete to appear more powerful.

This was the threat of Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty; we saw through all of the social conditioning that tells us that we are too weak to effect change. We went straight to the homes of those in power, challenged them on their golf courses, screamed at them while they vacationed at summer homes. We were the barbarians at the gate, an alliance of the kind of people who did not usually get heard by the mega-rich of the world. Tooth and nail we went after their profits, and along the way refused to divide and fracture over broken windows or graffiti. Everyone was welcome if they would fight, and I smile so big it hurts when I think of the grandmothers, the punks, the students, and all the other unlikely comrades who marched together in defiance of the false hierarchy that tells us to keep separate and leave the rich to their own devices. We didn’t stay in our place. In fact, we recognized that our place was wherever the hell we chose, and the world of finance and animal abuse was rocked as a result.

This isn’t to say that we were perfect. We made so many mistakes, and we must be accountable for them. As Conflict Gypsy completes its archives of Huntingdon Life Sciences campaign materials we will be critical of the movement’s failures. But today, as I leave Washington to see my family and friends and celebrate my new freedoms, I hope that the spirit of the campaign will infect you. All of us have a revolutionary spark in our hearts, and together these individual sparks provide a beautiful warmth that melts away the cold sterility created by our rulers. Together we can turn the tide of ecocide, of prejudice, of economic and political exploitation. Never, ever believe otherwise.

For animal liberation, for global revolution, and for joy! Yours always,
Josh Harper
July 2nd, 2012

Spirit of Freedom: The newsletter of the North American Earth Liberation Prisoner Support Network (Dec 2000 through Spring 2002, Eugene, OR)

As the boom of environmentally motivated arson and sabotage accelerated at the turn of the century it quickly became clear that the government, on behalf of their corporate sponsors, had a crackdown in the works. Unable to catch those responsible, the heat was turned up on support networks, spokespeople, and peripheral figures in the anarchist and radical wilderness defense communities. Grand jury subpoenas, congressional hearings, and new legislative efforts at repression seemed constant. British activists, having long dealt with similar threats, began urging radicals in the US to start a support network for the inevitable arrests and imprisonment of eco-warriors.

Working closely with Noel Molland (AKA Rabbix, publisher of R@T and Eco-Vegan) a young anarchist and former member of ADL New York named Daniel McGowan helped found The North American Earth Liberation Prisoners Support Network. Their publication, Spirit of Freedom, soon became one of many excellent prisoner support zines coming out of the Northwest. Covering all aspects of the movement and lending solidarity to a wide variety of struggles, Spirit of Freedom was a consistent source of revolutionary news and crucial support for our jailed comrades.

As the decade progressed Daniel found himself needing the very type of support offered by the NAELPSN. Arrested during the “Green Scare” (Ironically, a term Daniel coined on an early cover of Spirit of Freedom) Daniel is now serving a 7 year sentence in a Communications Management Unit in Indiana. Please visit his support site at www. for more information.

Breaking Free Video Magazine #1 (1998, Eugene, OR)

Back in 1997 I was kicked out of the Liberation Collective house in Portland and moved back to my home town of Eugene. Portland was a great place for activism in those days, but Eugene didn’t have much going on… yet. So, me and an old friend decided to start an Animal Defense League chapter. Right from the start we had a tough time getting people in the streets, but we had another idea…

I grew up skateboarding, and one of the most fascinating things about that art form is how coverage of skateboarding ultimately progresses the art of skateboarding. Every time a new skate video came out kids all over the world would see new possibilities, would feel the fire lit beneath them to try new tricks, and would find courage to do so because they had just seen other people do it right in front of them. They would film their tricks, and then the whole process would happen again and again, with each new video being more impressive than the one that preceded it. My buddy had just bought a top of the line video editing setup- A pentium II with a 9 gig drive, an SVS deck, and a copy of Premiere 3.2 with a $3,000 analog video capture card. Maybe we could do for activism what skate videos did for skateboarding.

The world of non-human liberation movements was fast paced and loaded with action back then. I knew that someone needed to document everything going on, but I couldn’t afford to travel and film it all. Most AR groups had a cheap camera though, so I put out the word that we wanted to get everyone’s footage for a video, and slowly the tapes started to trickle in. We learned how to edit through trial and error, and after several months of frustration in front of the computer, Breaking Free #1 was available.

The video is not perfect in any way, and there is a lot about it that embarrasses me. Still, there was nothing else quite like it at the time. Sales were high, it was translated into German and Spanish, bootleg copies were everywhere, and even mainstream publications like Animals Agenda were praising us. While I cringe at the mispronunciation of “Nietzsche,” the bad joke of an opening, and yes, the techno music, (Sorry, Mr. K!) I feel pride that we created such an accurate picture of the state of the movement, and insured that so many acts of anger, disobedience, and compassion were not forgotten. Please watch it with critical, but forgiving eyes.

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