Free the Animals 20th Anniversary Edition: The Amazing True Story of the Animal Liberation Front in North America
In April 2000, I had just arrived in the United States for The Pretenders Tour 2000 when I became aware of something very disturbing. Ingrid Newkirk, the author of this book, had been in India and had overseen the making of a video documenting the illegal trade in cows made manifest by the largest leather industry in the world. Aware only that in India cows are deemed sacred and it is illegal to kill them, I was shocked—not only by this cruel trade, but by the enormity of it. The images in the video of gentle domestic creatures being forced into trucks, crushed by overcrowding, and encouraged to keep marching on bleeding hooves by having their tails broken sickened me. Still, I continued to watch as they made their way onto the black market that led them to the killing floors of the slaughterhouse.
I was glad for the opportunity while on tour to use my visibility to join the PETA protests targeting one of Americaís largest retailers, GAP, Inc., and its sales of Indian leather. These protests ended in the display window of GAP, Inc., in Manhattan, when Ingrid Newkirk, other PETA members, and I were arrested as a crowd of passersby cheered us on. PETAís Leather Campaign is far from over, but our protests encouraged GAP, Inc., to change some of its practices. Sitting in the back of the police van, I experienced something that I had never known before, and that was a feeling of gratitude and deep appreciation for being in a country where such a protest is possible. After all, during the Vietnam War, people like myself were burning the flag. Now, I was happy to spend a night in jail as a conscientious objector.
Ingrid has spent many days and nights locked up for her protests, been a subject of a federal grand jury, and had her fingerprints, saliva, and handwriting samples taken by the FBI and her possessions confiscated in raids. Another protester, Rod Coronado, a Native American and animal rights campaigner, has been through even more. He is, despite a multimillion-dollar law-enforcement exercise and a dragnet of every state of the country, the only person to spend three and a half years in jail in the U.S. for the crime of destroying a mink research station. In England, where I live, animal rights prisoners are currently serving time in many jails, sometimes going on hunger strikes, in a determined effort to rectify the immoral procedures carried out against animals in laboratories,
on fur farms, and in the meat trade. I salute them as the true heroes of our society.
I believe that every creature in the animal kingdom is in our dominion and that it is our inherent responsibility to cherish and protect them. Naturally, I canít complacently turn a blind eye while some nine billion animals are hacked up barbarically and unnecessarily for human consumption each year in the U.S. alone. I try to make it my business, make it perfectly clear to all, that I present myself, wherever I am and whatever Iím doing, as opposition to anyone who supports any practice whatsoever that incorporates animal abuse. By the way, I think that it is equally unacceptable to abuse humans, but, technically, there are laws protecting them. Therefore, I continue to feel, as do all of my animal rights brethren, that it is my duty to maintain a firm and visible stance at all times regarding animal issues.
The good news is that there are kind people who walk this
Yours as always,
Back to Free the Animals 20th Anniversary Edition