The Earth Liberation Front in North America
"They proudly take credit for striking in the night, often torching homes, schools and workplaces. Even now, as the nation struggles back from the vicious attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon, they continue to boast of their assaults, recruit others to join them and offer training in how to use arson and elude the authorities. They call themselves the Earth Liberation Front and they take credit for over 30 acts of terrorism over the last six years, inflicting millions of dollars in damage."
- Tom Randall, Director of US National Centre for Public Policy.
From its somewhat murky roots in early '90s Britain, the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) has leapt across the Atlantic and, in the last few years, has become an ecological force to be reckoned with. Pre-September 11th, the FBI even went so far as to name it as the number one domestic terrorist threat. The ELF is an international underground network of people that use direct action, in the form of economic sabotage, to try and stop the exploitation and destruction of the natural world. The people and small groups that comprise the network identify the capitalist system as the root cause of ecological destruction.
The North American ELF has no central authority, no membership, no public meetings and no mailing lists. Apart from an obvious shared radical ecological political perspective, its main principles are three guidelines, and anybody who takes actions using these guidelines could potentially claim them for the ELF. People from all walks of life are taking action as ELF activists, and this loose structure has created a network that is effective and very hard for state and industry forces to infiltrate and destroy.
The first attack that was claimed by the ELF in North America was in 1996. Shortly after that an action against the US Government Bureau of Land Management offices resulted in their offices being totally destroyed by fire. From then onwards the list of ecologically destructive companies and institutions chosen as targets by the ELF has expanded.
One of the most significant actions taken by the ELF happened on 18th October 1998 in Vail, Colorado. Vail is a ski resort and was scheduled to expand and destroy 885 acres of wilderness that was prime lynx habitat. The attack by a cell of the ELF caused between $12-24 million worth of damage, the single most expensive act of ecological sabotage in US history. Nobody has yet been caught for this attack.
Although housing developments and forest destruction have also been targeted, it is genetic research establishments that have really faced the full fury of the anonymous cells, with many being totally destroyed by carefully planted incendiary devices.
The ELF in North America has moved on from just being an activist campaigning group to become an underground ecological resistance movement. It's growing, and its message is a simple one; we're fighting a war for the survival of our earth, so let's hit the capitalists who are destroying it with everything we can muster. No compromise in defence of the earth!
Firect Action with the ELF!
Here is a very selective list of some of the actions that have been taken and claimed by the ELF in North America over the last 6 years. For a more comprehensive list look at the updated listings on the ELF website mentioned at the end of the article.
July 3 in Middleton, Wisconsin
The slogan 'Independence Day for Fur Farm Prisoners' was painted at the United Vaccines laboratory during a daylight raid jointly claimed by the Earth Liberation Front and the Animal Liberation Front. Holes in the fence were also cut and 310 ferrets and mink were released. Equipment and windows were also destroyed.
October 14 in Eugene, Oregon
Two McDonald's stores are spray painted and have their locks glued.
October 28 in Detroit, Oregon
A US Forest Service pickup vehicle is torched on the parking lot of the Detroit Ranger District headquarters. The building is spray painted with 'Earth Liberation Front' and anti-logging slogans. An incendiary device fails to go off and is later found on the roof.
March 14 in the Mackenzie River watershed, Oregon
A joint ALF and ELF tree spiking took place at a timber harvest site in the Mackenzie River watershed in the Willamette National Forest.
November 29 in Burns, Oregon
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Wild Horse Corral was struck by fire. The office, horse pen barns, tack room, corrals and chutes on the facility were all burnt to the ground while the 488 wild horses and 51 burros held captive were let free. The fire caused over $450,000 in structural damage.
Any direct action taken to halt ecological destruction whilst keeping to the following guidelines could, if claimed as such, be considered an ELF action.
June 21 Olympia, Washington
In the early morning a joint cell of the ALF and ELF destroy two US Department of Agriculture Animal Damage Control Buildings. An estimated $1.5 million in research was lost and $400,000 in structural damages was caused.
October 18 in Vail, Colorado
Huge damages were caused to Vail Associates who were planning to develop a huge wilderness area into a ski resort. The largest act of eco-sabotage in US history, it catapulted the ELF into the public eye in North America.
December 26 in Medford, Oregon
US Forest Industries suffered damages estimated at $700,000 from a fire that gutted their offices. The target served as the corporate headquarters for four logging mills.
December 25 in Monmouth, Oregon
Fire destroys the main office of the Boise Cascade logging company costing over $1 million. ELF claim responsibility in a communiqué.
December 31 at Michigan State University, Michigan
Offices doused with gasoline and set alight. The ELF said the fire was set in response to the work being done to force developing nations in Asia, Latin America and Africa to switch from natural crop plants to genetically engineered sweet potatoes, corn, bananas and pineapples. Monsanto and USAID were major funders of the research and promotional work being done through Michigan State University. According to local newspapers, the fire caused some $900,000 in damage.
January 23 in Bloomington, Indiana
Fire destroyed a building site at the Sterling Woods development with estimated damage of $200,000. The ELF targeted the house because the sprawling development it is part of is in the Lake Monroe watershed that's being jeopardised by building developments.
April 30 in Bloomington, Indiana
At least six pieces of logging and heavy construction equipment were sabotaged, and a trailer full of wood chips was set ablaze at a road construction site just outside the city. Damages were estimated at over $75,000.
September 9 in Bloomington, Indiana
Fire erupts at the headquarters of the Monroe County Republican Party Committee headquarters. Investigators say a flammable liquid was poured on the building and ignited. The fire was a reminder, according to the ELF communiqué, that it would not sit quietly as politicians pushed for plans to extend an ecologically destructive highway.
December 9 on Long Island, New York
Fire erupts in a condominium under construction. The ELF claims responsibility, saying the homes were "future dens of the wealthy elite." The group, announcing "an unbounded war on urban sprawl," claims it checked for occupants - human and animal - in 16 buildings before setting incendiaries.
January 1 in Glendale, Oregon
The ELF claimed responsibility for burning down the Superior Lumber Company offices. This caused at least $400,000 in damage. The communiqué stated that, "This year we hope to see an escalation in tactics against capitalism and industry."
January 23 in Louisville, Kentucky
The ELF takes action to counter urban sprawl. Five windows were broken, and 18 vandalised in the first wave of attacks against corporate development.
March 5 in Huntington, New York
Corporate shops whose owners have involvement in the clear-cutting of forests in the Pacific Northwest had their windows smashed. The communiqué warns that actions will continue until the corporations stop their economic support for forest destruction.
November 27 in Boulder, Colorado
The ELF use arson to destroy a $2.5 million mansion belonging to corporate developers. The target was razed to the ground, leaving only the cement foundations recognisable.
September 3 in Irvine, Pennsylvania
The ELF claims responsibility for an arson attack on the US Forest Service Northeast Research Station. The laboratory was set ablaze during the early morning hours, causing over $700,000 damage and destroying 70 years worth of research.
January 2 in Erie, Pennsylvania
The ELF destroys several off-road vehicles at a car dealership.
April 10 in Santa Cruz, California
The ELF spray-paint anti-war messages on about 60 vehicles and trucks.
June 4 in Chico, California and Washington, Michigan
Two separate arson attacks against urban sprawl target luxury homes under development. These are the third and fourth attacks against urban sprawl undertaken by the ELF in 2003..
Factories and laboratories don't burn down by themselves.
Learn to burn!