Experiences of ELF Activists

  • What we have hypothesized:
  • The culture of not wanting to be a snitch is a form of control and order within these leaderless groups.
  • It is paradoxical that these activists destroy environments in order to try and save the broader environment.
  • When individuals act outside of a collective it fosters more radical actions. In other words there are no checks and balances on the decision made.

Earth First! Interview with Daniel

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Daniel McGowan

Daniel McGowan: I have little tolerance for the whole pro-violence against snitches thing. Not only is it phony—let’s be real, no snitches in our movement “get stitches”—but I find it counter to what we believe in. We are not the Irish Republican Army. We are not Marxist-Leninist rigid cadre organizations that punish weakness with personal violence. Some of the comments on Portland Indymedia were so useful to the prosecution that they must have been posted by law enforcement of some kind—especially after the agents moaned to my lawyers that I was spearheading this campaign against the snitches. Again, I want to be crystal-clear: I don’t support violence against informants in my case.I do support their complete and total ostracization from the movement, as I think they are dangerous people. They have shown themselves to be so self-centered in their outlook as to sell people out when they swore up and down they never would. (Here’s a funny aside: The biggest informants were the ones who were the most tough and militant at the time of the actions. What does that say?) No welcome back should be given to these people. When you think of their actions and feel that, at one point, they were honorable people trying to do their best to make the world better, that is fair. But keep in mind, the people who sold me out are not the same people anymore.

  • Little is known about the experiences of the activists. (Joose, 2012)
  • This is due to the lack of central organization.  (Joose, 2012)
  • The activists only commit acts that they plan themselves and that reflect their level of commitment.  (Joose, 2012)
  • The attacks from “elf” can be related or completely unrelated, but in theory all work towards stopping the structures that perpetuate environmental degradation.
  • ELF has no leaders and no lines of control and command exist between those who decide to go active.  (Joose, 2012)
  • All individuals that choose to go active do so under personal conscience. (earthliberationfront.org)
  • From the documentary If a tree falls, some of the former activists expressed discontent with the government and their role in provoking and perpetuating in the activists to radical means.
  • Gloria Steinem the means should justify the ends. The ELF members think that their means justify their ends.
  • Culture of the groups supports collective trust and not being a “snitch.” Blogs like Snitch Wire post information on people who snitch within the movement.

Leslie James Pickering: “Well, what the Earth Liberation Front is standing for, what they’re defending, are the natural elements of the Earth that we all need to survive—our fresh air, our clean water, our healthy soil, our intact ecosystems. Without these, we all die, we all perish. So I’m representing a group that is fighting in self-defense, for preservation of our species, all species of life on Earth.” (Foreman, 2003)

Leslie James Pickering