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24Id.                                        authority for private discrimination in   earths oldest and richest ecosystem...
who commit illegal acts under the ELF      legal methods are necessary to effect       animals from places of abuse such a...
were "liberated."33                        Genesis 1:28 places a special                    14 Joshua K. Marquis & Daniell...
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Kaiser-Eco Terrorists or Civil Rights Pioneers?


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Written by Michael Kaiser for the Seattle University School of Law's Environmental Law Society's Journal "Perspectives," Issue Three, Spring 2006, 5-7.

Mr. Kaiser, founder of the Kaiser Legal Group, is a consultant and mediator. He also regularly speaks at the law school level and at Continuing Legal Education (CLE) seminars for attorneys. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of Washington and his Juris Doctor from Seattle University. You may contact him at 206-660-2858 or

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Kaiser-Eco Terrorists or Civil Rights Pioneers?

  1. 1. 24Id. authority for private discrimination in earths oldest and richest ecosystems, 25Id. public accommodations such as inns, suffering substantially greater 26 Id.; See Kaiser, supra note 4. theatres, and railcars. 2 depletion.? Few people argue that 27 Kaiser, supra note 4; See Thau, supr~note 1, at 8. Challenging the law, however, often these examples of both shrinking 28 Kaiser, supra note 4. exacts a heavy price on society and natural resources and biodiversity are 29Id. the challengers. The Civil War cost not overwhelmingly caused by human 30Id. approximately 600,000 lives and, activities. furthermore, it is arguable that one­ The only question among citizens who feel that the state of the environment is of paramount concern Eco-Terrorists is what should be done. There are some who believe we should work or Civil Rights Pioneers within the system and some who feel that extra-legal means are needed. Local conservation groups and By Mike Kaiser organizations like the Sierra Club are examples of the former. These groups use more mainstream Theoretically the "rule of law" hundred and fifty years later relations methods to bring about change, is what binds a society together in between the North and the South still such as purchasing land to setan essentially cohesive and peaceful have not fully recovered. 3 The way in aside or trying to effect changemanner. Globally, the United States which the civil rights activists of the through the political process. Other represents one of the most successful mid-twentieth century were harassed, organizations, however, feel that thesemanifestations of this principle for jailed, and killed are further examples more mainstream methods are not the past several centuries. At times, of the price of challenge. accomplishing enough or, at least however, the United States has had Because of these high costs, the use in some areas, not accomplishing to decide what to do when the law of extra-legal means in the pursuit of anything at all. The Earth Liberation does not adequately address a societal justice is supportable in only the most Front (ELF) and its sister organization,concern. limited instances. Only where the the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), The Civil War is a past example of issue is of paramount importance and are two groups using extra-legal meanshow the United States has addressed the laws ability to fashion a remedy to effect change.the inability of laws to fashion an appears lacking can the possible The ELF was founded in Brighton,appropriate remedy for a societal legitimacy of extra-legal means be England in 1992 by more activistdefect. In fact, scholars argue that the considered. members of the environmental grouplaw itself, in the form of Dred Scott Currently, there are citizens and Earth First!S Biocentrism is at thev. Sandford, was a leading cause of groups who feel that the state of the core of ELF philosophy. This beliefthe Civil War. I Only after fighting environment is a paramount concern. holds that all organisms are equalthe war was the United States able to In fact, sixty percent of United and deserving of moral rights andreverse the reasoning of Dred Scott, States citizens rate the condition of consideration. 9 Thus, biodiversity andthat African-Americans were property, the environment as fair to poor. 4 wilderness are the ideals. 10and pass the Thirteenth Amendment Areas of environmental concern are The ELF describes itself as "anabolishing slavery. multiple and varied. For example, underground movement with no The civil rights battles that took most estimates put the current rate of leadership, membership, or officialplace a century later are additional extinctions at 1,000 times or greater spokesperson."ll The ELF goals areexamples of societys response to the the normal rate. 5 Furthermore, just to inflict economic damage on thoselaws inability to remedy societal one-quarter of the worlds marine fish exploiting the environment and todefects. Furthermore, as with Dred populations are at sustainable levels.6 educate the public about crimesScott, the law itself was a leading In addition, forests cover less than against nature while at the samesource of the problem. The Civil one-half of the area they originally time taking precautions not to harmRights Cases, although decided almost did, with losses in areas of old-growth "human or nonhuman" animals. 12a century earlier, were still sanctioning timber and tropical rainforests, the The ELF further states that individuals 5!
  2. 2. who commit illegal acts under the ELF legal methods are necessary to effect animals from places of abuse such asname do so under the ELF banner, change. In fact, the ELF and ALFs laboratories or farms and place themand are motivated only by their own aims and methodology are so similar in good homes where they can live freeconscience. 13 that they often work together as from suffering. The second guiddine ELF acts are carried out by small evidenced by joint communiques. 23 is to inflict economic damage ongroups or cells. 14 Within these cells The ALF traces its roots to 1960s those who profit from the exploitationthere are no leaders and information England where animal-rights activists and misery of animals. The thirdis dispersed on a need to know basis. IS began sabotaging hunts by laying false guideline is to reveal the horrors andOften the cells commit only one act. scents, blowing horns, and destroying atrocities committed against animalsThe lack of organizational structure, hunters vehicles. 24 After two activists behind closed doors by performingthe size and duration of the cells, non-violent direct actions andand the tight control on information liberations. The fourth guidelineinvariably place law enforcement in is to take all necessary precautionsa reactive mode. 16 1heALF against harming animals, human The ELFs primary tool is arson. or nonhuman. The last guidelineIn fact, The ELFs first act of note traces its roots to 1960 ~ is to analyze the ramifications ofin the United States occurred in all proposed actions, and never1996 when a US Forest Service apply generalizations when specifictruck was destroyed by arson in England where information is available. 26Oregons Willamette National Forest ALF cells are very similar into protest the logging of old-growth animal-rights activists structure to ELF cells. The cellstimber. 17 usually consist of two to five However, between 1996 and individuals as the ALF stresses2001 simple acts ofvandalism by began sabotaging hunts keeping teams as small as possibleELF members outnumbered acts because having extra people putsof arson. 18 This vandalism includes them unnecessarily at risk. 27 The by layingfolse scents, spray-painting ELF slogans and ALF suggests that each team havebreaking windows. 19 The ELF also a leader because often times split­commits acts of sabotage which blowing horns, and second decisions must be made ininclude damaging equipment, crops, the heat of the moment.28buildings, and vehicles. 20 Like the ELF, ALF activism has Property and financial losses from destroying led to substantial losses. In July ofELF activities have been substantial. 1989 the ALF entered a laboratory atThe ELF claimed responsibility for hunters vehicles. Texas Techs Health Sciences Centerthe 1997 fire near the ski resort of in Lubbock, Texas that specializedVail, Colorado, in which damage to in research on sleeping disorders. 29housing developments was estimated The ALF damaged and disabledat $12-24 million dollars.21 The equipment, spray-painted slogansELF has also claimed responsibility were jailed in 1975, support grew on the walls, and removed five catsfor a $1 million dollar fire at a and the ALF was born. The ALF being used to conduct experimentsDepartment ofAgriculture facility in defines itself as consisting of small on.30 The laboratory was shut downOlympia, Washington; another $1 autonomous groups who carry out for 45 days and damage, both directmillion dollar fire at the Boise Cascade actions according to ALF guidelines.25 and indirect, was estimated at over $1lumber company in Monmouth, The ALF further states that "any million dollars. 31 In November of 1996Oregon; and a $5.4 million dollar group of people who are vegans or the ALF firebombed an Alaskan Furfire at the University ofWashingtons vegetarians and who carry out direct warehouse in Bloomington, Minnesota,Center for Urban Horticulture.22 action according to ALF guidelines causing damage in excess of$2 millionThese are just some of the largest have the right to regard themselves as dollars. 32 ,The ALF itself states that inexamples. part of the ALE" 2004 the group committed 554 acts Like the ELF, the Animal Liberation There are five ALF guidelines. ofsabotage, vandalism, and arson andFront (ALF) believes that extra­ The first guideline is to liberate that; furthermore, 17,262 animals6
  3. 3. were "liberated."33 Genesis 1:28 places a special 14 Joshua K. Marquis & Danielle M. Weiss, In the end, it certainly can be argued responsibility on humans to act as Eco-Terror: Special Interest Terrorism, 39­ FEB Prosecutor 30, 31 (2005).that ELF and ALF methodology is stewards of the planet, not masters. 15 Bryan Denson & James Long, Eco­wrong. Our legal system is designed, Furthermore, there are those who Terrorism Sweeps the American West ( least in theory, to provide the proper liken the actions of the ELF and ALF 26, 1999) at for change. Furthermore, if to Mathew 21: 12 where Jesus threw 16 See Robert Gehrke, FBI Names Most­everyone broke the law there would the money changers out of the temple. Active Terrorists; Environmental Group atno society at all and the ecosystem Ultimately, as with most things, Top of List with 600 Attacks Since 1996, Charlotte Observer.would probably fare even worse. history will be the final judge. Will Feb. 13,2002 at 17A.Additionally, instead of helping the the ELF and ELF be looked at as 17, there are many people who are common criminals or civil rights earthliberationfront3pub.htm (Last visitedturned off by the actions of the ELF pioneers, perhaps even akin to the January 30,2006).andALE "Minutemen" ofyore? The decision is 18 Stefan H. Leader & Peter Probst, The Lastly, on a much simpler platform, obviously an individual one based on Earth Liberation Front and Environmental Terrorism.there are some who feel that the earth, a persons belief as to the importance by extension the ecosystem, exists of the cause, whether our system can earthliberationfrom3pub.htm (Last visitedfor the benefit of humans. Some cite properly address the cause, and what January 28, 2006).Bible passages such as Genesis 1:28 as behavior is ultimately justified to effect 19Id.justification for this school of thought. change. 20 Id.This passage says "Fill the earth and ENDNOTES----------------­ 21 Stefan H. Leader & Peter Probst, The Earth Liberation Front and Environmentalsubdue it; and have dominion over the I Mark w: Janis, Dred Scott and Terrorism (Last visitedfish of the sea and over the birds of the International Law, 43 Coum. J. TransnatL. February 28, 2006). 763,782 (2005).air and over every living thing." 22 Id. Don E. Fehrenbacher, The Dred Scott While the arguments against the Case: Its Significance in American Law and 23 Bryan Denson & James Long, Eco­actions of the ELF and ALF carry Politics, 3 (Oxford Terrorism Sweeps the American West (Sept.substantial weight, there are counter­ University Press 1978). 26, 1999) at 24 The ALF Primer, http://www.arguments as well. Certainly the 2 See Civil Rights Cases, 109 U.S. 314, S. Ct. 18,27 L.Ed. 835 (I883). animalliberationfrom.comlALFrontlCivil War and civil rights struggles are ALFprime.htm 3 See Michael P. OConnor, TIme Out ofinstances in which extra-legal methods (Last visited on February 28, 2006). Mind: Our Collective Amnesia about thewere needed. It can also be argued that History of the 25 The ALF Credo, http://www.people who are turned off by the actions Privileges and Immunities Clause, 93 ELF and ALF are people who K.Y. L. J. 659, 682. (2004-2005). htm 4 Yale Center for Environmental Law & 26 Id.were neutral, at best, toward the causes Policy. Environmental Poll: May 2005. 27 The ALF Primer, http://www.championed by the ELF and ALE animalliberationfron t.comlALFrontl!eab. Furthermore, it is difficult to ALFprime.htm (Last visited March 1, htm. (Last visited on February 25, 2006).determine where to draw the line 5 James Rasband. James Salzman, and 2006).between "humans" and "animals," a ,Mark Squillace, Natural Resources Law and 28 rd.line obviously used as justification Policy, 313 29 Report on ALF, http://www. (Foundation Press 2004). animalliberationfront.comlALFront/Premise_for humans activities toward the 6 Id. History/ALFTXTer.htm (Last visited Marchecosystem. In some instances the 1,2006). 7 Id.genetic difference between humans 30 Id. S Stefan H. Leader & Peter Probst, Theand animals, such as chimpanzees, Earth Liberation Front and Environmental roughly 1%.34 Additionally, a Terrorism. 32 Sarah McKenzie, Animal Liberationmoral argument can be made that if From takes credit for destruction (April 7, earthliberationfront3pub.htm (Last visited 1999) really is a substantial difference February 28, 2006). 7110127between humans and animals then 33http://www.animalliberatationfront. 9 Id.humans should be the subject of com/ALFrom/Premise_History2004%20Di 10 Id.experiments that are conducted solely Il recc%20Action%20Report.htm (Last visitedfor the benefit of humans. visited February 28,2006). March 2,2006). 12Id. 34 http://www.janegoodalLorg/ Lastly, even the biblical arguments 13 chim panzees/similarities.default.asp (Lastcut both ways. Some argue that visited February 28,2006). visited January 30, 2006) 7l