Total Liberation Tour 2004

In case you missed it, Total Liberation Tour 2004 — featuring radical bands and animal rights speakers — wrapped up in late July, but not before making a fascinating stop in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The Brigham Young University NewsNet provided a good summation of the tour,

After the first few bands the speaker, introducing himself only as Evan, spoke on the need to return to a primitive lifestyle and abandon civilization in order to experience true freedom and wildness.

Nothing could tape that, but local organizer Jakob Nyberg came close as he tried to tell the press that the tour had nothing to do with animal rights or environmental extremism. Nyberg was forced to defend the tour after Harrison David Burrow allegedly torched a BYU building the week before the concert.

The Associated Press reported,

The concert, called the “Total Liberation Tour,” was one of 10 stops
scheduled nationally to promote a variety of causes, such as animal and
minority rights.

The FBI had said that the tour would feature top leaders of both
ecoterrorist groups Animal Liberation Front and Earth Liberation Front,
which are suspected in two high-profile arson fires in Utah in the past

Nyberg, 27, who volunteered to help organize the Utah stop when he heard the
national tour was being planned, said there was no connection between the
show and the groups, and he didn’t know anyone involved in that kind of

No connection between the tour and the ALF or ELF? Hmmm…here’s a Total Liberation Tour poster:

Leslie James Pickering is an Earth Liberation Front spokesman. Andrew Stepanian and Rod Coronado, of course, are both convicted Animal Liberation Front criminals. Josh Harper is a former ALF spokesman.

Nyberg is either an idiot, a liar or both to claim that there’s no connection between the ELF/ALF and the Total Liberation 2004 tour.


Vegans, animal rights activists gather for tour. Jacob Conde, BYU NewsNet, July 15, 2004.

Organizers deny FBI claim that concert related to ecoterrorism. Associated Press.

Seven SHAC Activists Arraigned in New Jersey

On June 15, seven animal rights activists accused of interstate stalking and other crimes related to their activities against Huntingdon Life Sciences were formally arraigned in a New Jersey court. The arraignment lasted only 10 minutes, but drew a few dozen protesters and provided some interesting information into what sort of evidence the government might have against the seven.

Kevin Kjonaas, Josh Harper, Lauran Gazzola, Jacob Conroy, Darius Fullmer, John McGee, and Andrew Stepanian all plead not guilty to all charges. U.S. District Judge Mary Cooper set a tentative trial date of August 17, though that will almost certainly be pushed back at the request of the defendants’ attorneys.

One of the interesting tidbits that came out during the arraignment was that federal authorities had wiretaped and videotaped at least some of the seven activists. According to the New Jersey Star-Ledger,

Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles McKenna, who is prosecuting the case, said the evidence includes phone wiretaps and surveillance that yielded 440 cassettes and 50 videotapes.

Some of the protesters were also of interest. According to the New Jersey Star Ledger’s account,

“I came here because this is a travesty of justice,” said David Lambon, 31, of Norristown, Pa. Lambon said he was an independent activist and a college student “between schools.”

That would have been accurate if only Lambon had said he was between arrests. Lambon was one of 11 activists arrested in Pennsylvania on May 29 at a demonstration outside the home of a pharmaceutical company executive.


Animal rights activists deny targeting lab. John P. Martin and Brian T. Murray, New Jersey Star-Ledger, June 16, 2004.

Federal Agents Arrest Seven Activists in Four States

On May 26, federal agents in four states arrested seven people associated with Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty’s campaign against Huntingdon Life Sciences in the United States.

The activists arrested were Josh Harper arrested in Washington state; Kevin Kjonas (AKA “Kevin Jonas”, “Steve Shore” and “Jim Fareer”), Lauran Gazzola (AKA “Angela Jackson” and “Danielle Matthews”), and Jacob Conroy arrested in California; Darius FUllmer and John McGee arrested in New Jersey; and Andrew Stepanian arrested in New York.

The indictment of the activist charged all seven activist with,

. . . knowingly and willfully combine, conspire and agree with one another and others to use a facility in interstate and foreign commerce for the purpose of causing physical disruption to the functioning of HLS, an animal enterprise, and intentionally damage and cause the loss of property used by HLS, in an amount exceeding $10,000.

That conspiracy charge carries with it up to three years in prison and a $250,000 if convicted.

In addition, Kjonas, Gazzola and Conroy as well as Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty itself were charged with three counts each of interstate stalking and one count each of conspiracy to engage in interstate stalking. Each of those charges carries a sentence of up to five years in jail and a $250,000 fine if convicted.

SHAC’s response was predictable,

Osama Bin Laden must be feeling pretty comfortable right now, as the FBI and the United States Government have shown their investigative hand and it is disturbingly pathetic. Ironically on the same day John Ashcroft held a press conference to warn the country of impending terrorist attacks coming this summer (a warning based on “intelligence” the AG has now had to backtrack from) – the FBI set about tackling their number one priority, the capture of those menacing animal rights activists.

The reader can imagine just about every criminal enterprise from the mob to the local petty bank robber making this argument — “but judge, why waste time prosecuting me when they should be out tracking down Osama bin Laden.”

SHAC also had some hilarious whining about the means of their arrest,

With a seemingly unlimited budget the FBI did spare no expense. To arrest three of the seven supposed SHAC USA volunteers, 15 agents from the FBI, Secret Service, and even US Air Marshals (with their chopper over head) stormed into a home at 6 AM with guns drawn. They were, after all, apprehending people suspected of operating a website, and you never know what sort of floppy disk such thugs could be concealing as a weapon.

Excellent. SHAC might be surprised that it doesn’t require an unlimited budget to have 15 agents execute arrests in four separate states. It is amusing, though, to see the folks who advocate and support the most vile sort of threats and intimidation tactics upset because agents serving a lawful warrant “stormed into a home at 6 AM.” Don’t worry too much for them — hopefully most of those arrested will soon reside in prison cells and not have to worry about anyone storming their homes at 6 AM.

And just to make sure it got some publicity out of the matter, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals was quick to tell any media outlet who would listen that it doesn’t see anything wrong with what SHAC does and that these arrests are part of a government crackdown on mainstream activism.

The New Jersey Star Ledger noted that,

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, however, questioned yesterday whether legitimate activism was under attack.

“Some of the names being bandied about in this instance are longtime activists and well respected,” said PETA spokeswoman Lisa Lange, referring to the SHAC indictment.

Well, at least its good to get Lange on the record. After all of this nonsense of late from PETA that it doesn’t support or condone animal rights terrorism, it’s nice to see them be up front about their admiration for these folks.

The full text of the indictment against the SHAC activists can be read here.


Animal rights activists charged in actions against testing lab. Associated Press, May 26, 2004.

FBI targets ‘terrorism’ by animal, eco-activists. Brian Murray, New Jersey Star-Ledger, May 27, 2004.

Memo to Jeff Luers: Don't Do the Crime If You Can't Do the Time

In June 2000, Jeff Luers and Craig Marshall went to a Chevrolet dealership in Oregon and set three pickups on fire, causing an estimated $40,000 in damage. Almost a year later, on June 11, 2001, the 22-year old activist was sentenced to 22 years in jail for those acts of arson and related crimes. A large portion of that sentence does not carry any parole option, so Luers will likely spend close to 15 years in jail. Good for him.

The facts behind Luers’ case show that whatever else he is, he is not very bright. Luers had been just released from jail on a disorderly conduct charge. Plainclothes police were tailing him but lost him near the car dealership. He was arrested 10 minutes after the fire by another office on a traffic violation!

Luers received a 22-year sentence for two reasons. First, unlike Marshall, he refused to plea bargain. Marshall plead to lesser charges and received 5 1/2 years. As one newspaper account put it, Luers chose to roll the dice on a trial and lost big time. Second, Luers was also convicted of trying to ignite a gasoline tanker at Eugene’s Tyree Oil Co. in May 2000. The judge apparently decided that based on those two incidents, Luers was a serial arsonist and gave him a stiff sentence in response.

Of course animal rights and environmental extremists see Luers as a victim due to his long sentence. They seem to think that Luers and the right to commit arson because his conscience told him it was the right thing to do, but society does not have the right to protect itself against arsonists such as Luers.

Luers himself recently wrote a letter to Rep. Scott McInnis, who is conducting hearings into ecoterrorism, which is reproduced in its entirety below,

Dear Mr Scott McInnis,

I am writing in response to your recent statements and questions about me. I do not appreciate your deliberate and malicious misrepresentations of my words to further your political goals. Not only have you taken my words and formed new sentences with them attributing them to me, you have quoted me as saying things that I have never said. As an elected Representative of the people, I believe it is your legal and moral duty to be truthful when carrying out the political and legal activities of your office.

However I do appreciate your concern about me ” [wasting] away in prison for the next two plus decades.” You will be pleased to know that is not the case. I have stayed quite active in my college studies working towards my BA. Also, I have had a unique opportunity to discuss my situation with media from around the globe who have shown a surprising interest in my sentence.

You must realize Scott, that two years ago I was just a young man frustrated by the increasingly severe destruction of the environment. I burned some tires on some trucks as a result of that frustration. Perhaps my actions were misguided. Perhaps they can be rationalized as the lesser of two evils. It is all perspective.

Had I been given a reasonable sentence I would have been forgotten by the public. I would have been one news story.I would have served my sentence and finished my BA. I would have been released, reunited with my family and enjoyed the rest of my life. Yes, I would have continued to be active in efforts to protect the environment, but I would have avoided activities that would lead me back to prison.

By giving me a sentence of 22 years, viewed by a majority of people as overly harsh and extreme, the system has put me in the spot light, giving me international attention. I have been made to be an example. However, that has only served to make me a political prisoner and for some perhaps even a martyr. This is not a role I chose to fill. It was forced upon me. It is oppression that creates revolutionaries Scott, and it is injustice that ignites revolutions.

In defense of Mother Earth


Jeff Luers

If Luers thinks he has much of a spotlight, he is deluding himself — in a couple years no one but the small cadre of true believers will remember him (his case was barely reported nationally as it was). But he has received a lot of attention from other extremists.

According to an article by Josh Harper in a recent issue of No Compromise, for example,

The fire Free was convicted of setting was an act of compassion. The gas guzzling monstrosities known as SUV’s slaughter more animals each year than the fur industry, emit fumes that harm the well being of plants and animals alike, and take us further down the path of a world without green spaces. As forests, grasslands, and other wild areas fall to make more room for parking lots and freeways, is it any wonder that people are beginning to attack the auto industry?

Animal rights, extremist environmental sites, and anarchist sites are filled with similar screeds condemning the injustices supposedly done to Luers.

Luers is appealing his sentence, but faces an uphill battle. Meanwhile the car dealership recently filed a civil suit against Luers and Marshall to cover the cost of the destroyed property.

With any luck, the dealers will have to wait 20 years before seeing any money from Luers.


Man Called ‘Free’ Sits In Prison. Bryan Denson, The Oregonian, September 25, 2001.

Chevy dealer sues anarchists convicted in arson fire. Associated Press, February 27, 200.

In Honor of Jeff Luers. Josh Harper, No Compromise, Issue 18, Summer 2001.

California Activists Receive Jail Sentences; Anti-Stephens Protesters Receive Fines

In October, Peter Schnell, 21, and Matthew Whyte, 18, pleaded guilty to federal weapons charges. The two animal rights activists were caught in possession of 11 gallons of gasoline, matches and other paraphernalia which they planned to use to firebomb several dairy trucks in Capitola, California.

The two were sentenced in January with Schnell receiving a two-year sentence and Whyte a 14 month prison term. This was the minimum possible sentence U.S. Circuit Court Judge James Ware could have given the pair. Ware apparently thought the statements of regret that both defendants offered in court were sincere.

Meanwhile, an Arkansas court is beginning to dispose of the charges against anti-Huntingdon Life Sciences protesters who were involved in a riot-like protests against Stephens back in October organized by Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty. All of the arrested protesters were from outside of Arkansas.

Alicia Skeats, 20, of Coffeyville, Texas, and Michael Durschmind, 41, of Chicago, were convicted of misdemeanor disorderly conduct and were fined $100 and ordered to pay $100 in court costs. The fines will be deducted from a $300 cash bond each of them posted. Both Skeats and Durschmind plan to appeal their conviction.

Josh Harper plead guilty to violating a city public assembly ordinance and was fined $100 and $100 in court costs, though the fines were suspended on the recommendation of the prosecutor.


Animal rights activists get prison time. San Francisco Chronicle, January 29, 2002.

Two activists fined $100 for disorderly conduct. The Associated Press, January 26, 2002.

Josh Harper and Tim McVeigh

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer recently profiled animal rights activists Josh Harper. Harper told a Post-Intelligencer reporter that among other things he sees “a spark of hope in every broken window, every torched police car and every mink running free as their hearts desire.” Harper added that his ultimate goal is nothing less than “the complete collapse of industrial civilization.”

The most interesting part of the profile, however, is Harper’s apparent resort to the sort of reasoning used by Timothy McVeigh to justify his criminal acts,

Harper denies any involvement with the Animal Liberation Front or the Earth Liberation Front — dubbed terrorist groups by the U.S. government. Yet he applauds ELF’s recent arson attack on the University of Washington’s Center for Urban Horticulture.

In war, Harper reasoned, there is collateral damage.

This isn’t empty rhetoric either, considering Harper once threw a lit flare and smoke canister at Native American whalers.


His goal: the end of civilization. Paul Shukovsky, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, June 18, 2001.