Direct action aimed at ending the exploitation of nonhuman animals. In light of centuries of failed legislative reforms, particularly in the area of food production, activists began directly intervening to alleviate the suffering of nonhuman animals. In 1964, John Prestige founded the Hunt Saboteurs Association (HSA) in England, which used lawful methods to disrupt hunts. In 1972, the Band of Mercy was formed out of the HSA to disable hunt vehicles in order to prevent hunts from even starting. In 1973, the Band of Mercy burnt down a building that was being constructed for vivisection labs. In 1974 they burnt down an entire fleet of seal hunting boats, which sealers did not try to rebuild. Again in 1974, the group launched 8 raids against the suppliers of the vivisection labs by breaking into buildings and rescuing the animals. Each time these liberationists accomplished what would have never happened through lawful means.
Today, several groups continue in the tradition of HSA and Band of Mercy, the most notable of which is the Animal Liberation Front. The ALF commits to several key principles, chief of which is that no human beings must be harmed in their actions. The group remains decentralized both to protect themselves from prosecution and to allow its members to be flexible in its tactics as their context allows. It does not view property destruction as violent and encourages its use for the sake of rescuing all those nonhuman animals who will never be able to save themselves. Recognizing that animal welfare laws serve the interests of corporations, they use direct action and other forms of civil disobedience to liberate nonhuman animals, one at a time. Although the animal liberation movement is not without its detractors nor is it without its ethical complications, it has nevertheless been effective in stopping and preventing animal cruelty in ways the legal option has not.
Footage from a direct action campaign by the Animal Liberation Front featured in the documentary, Behind the Mask.
Animal Liberation, Tokenizing 'Intersectionality', and Resistance Ecology, the keynote address of Dr. Breeze Harper of the Sistah Vegan Project and Lauren Ornelas of the Food Empowerment Project.
Best, Steven and Anthony J. Nocella II, eds. Terrorists or Freedom Fighters: Reflections of the Liberation of Animals. Lantern Books, 2004. Print. The first anthology of writings on the history, ethics, politics, and tactics of the Animal Liberation Front. The book features both academic and activist perspectives and offers powerful insights into this international organization and its position within the animal rights movement. Calling on sources as venerable as Thomas Aquinas and as current as the Patriot Act—and in some cases, personal experience—the contributors explore the history of civil disobedience and sabotage, and examine the philosophical and cultural meanings of words like "terrorism," "democracy" and "freedom," in a book that ultimately challenges the values and assumptions that pervade our culture. (From the back cover)