On October 13, 2011, the Criminal System of Injustice sentenced Walter Bond to 87 months in prison for two ALF arsons in Utah – he burned down Tandy Leather Factory and Tiburon Foie Gras Restaurant. This sentence will run consecutively with the 5 years he received earlier this year for setting a sheepskin factory in Colorado ablaze and permanently ending its reign of terror. For his bravery and acts of compassion on behalf of the animals entombed in a holocaust, Walter will serve a total of 12 years 3 months in prison. This is NIO’s exclusive post-sentencing interview with Walter Bond, Prisoner of War…
NIO: In our last interview, Go Vegan and Break Something, we touched on the issue of fear and how activists acquiesce, thus, allowing themselves to be controlled by the industrial-state complex. Did you ever have to confront your own fear? How does one transcend their fear to emerge a warrior?
Well, yes, of course I felt fear — especially right before the commission of arson. It’s kind of like jumping into a river or swimming pool when you’re first learning to swim. The fear is at the jump off point. Once I was involved in an action I was simply concerned with the task at hand.
How to conquer fears that keep us frozen in our tracks or shy us away from militant interventionalism is a difficult issue to tackle. But for the serious direct activist, a calculating and tactical worldview needs to supplant our examining and comtemplating of feelings. Most Vegans and Animal Rights activists are very in touch with their feelings. It’s what makes us the compassionate and hopefully self-sacrificing people that help and care about Animals, when society really favors the abusers and Animal enterprises. For many though, that heightened awareness encompasses all of their feelings, not just love, compassion and empathy. But also fear, doubt and worry.
For me, conquering fear is not about owning it or analyzing it. It’s about refusing to give into it and learning how to control my emotions. It’s about a certain amount of impersonalization as well. In the bigger picture, my fear of committing a crime or getting caught isn’t the main concern. Imagine what an Animal in a cage watching its kin get skinned and murdered must feel. Imagine their fear. For many hands-on activists it’s not hard to imagine. If you worked in a slaughterhouse, or rescue, or sanctuary, as I have, you see the victims of human callousness, greed and gluttony over and over again. That’s what drives fear away for me, the reality of Animal exploitation.
For too many “activists” in the internet age or the classroom commandos, Animal Liberation is a subject of interest… something to be seen in the context of other social concerns. Many of these head trippers enjoy sounding heavy and perfecting their idealistic meanderings. Unfortunately, Animals and all victims of oppression need people that can actually maneuver in reality. People that can build a barn, shovel shit, intervene with physical force and cast their fear to the side like any other impediment.
To conquer your fear and own self-interest as it relates to Animal Liberation, you must care more about their plight than your own. I wish I knew how to teach that to people. –WB
NIO: How did you choose your targets? What kinds of things need to be considered when one is trying to isolate a vulnerable abuser?
As an economic saboteur and A.L.F. arsonist, I chose what are known as “soft targets,” meaning I went after buildings that were older and appeared fire friendly. My main concern was maximum damage, not sending messages or warnings. I felt then as I do now that when you deal in death or the products of death for profit, then you deserve the worst. The only concerns when isolating a vulnerable abuser is
1) Can I completely ruin them?
2) Can I get away with it?
If there is a 70% chance or better that I could, then I would continue forward. At that point the rest is just details. -WB
NIO: For the sole purpose of creating an accurate historical record, are there any details of your actions that you can discuss?
I would love nothing more than to give a step-by-step description as to how I committed my campaign. Unfortunately, that is the one thing I cannot publicly describe. The enemy would love nothing more than to give me more trumped-up charges for inciting others or announcing a call to arms.
But what I can say is the best way to learn how to tear anything apart is to first learn how it goes together. What made me an effective arsonist wasn’t any pyrotechnic training, but having many years of experience working jobs in the trades, such as laborer, maintenance, factory assembly, welding, torch cutting and blueprint reading. Direct action is a hands-on way of life. If you want an effective militia, you first recruit or become the type of person that knows how to do the task at hand. Forget putting anarchist cookbook style recipes and plans into the hands of cowardly and physically incapable people.
The internet is loaded with the “how-to’s” of illegal direct action. Lack of information is not the issue. The problem is that we are framing militant Animal Liberation as an issue that doesn’t appeal to action-oriented people. Just think about how much more of a threat the underground would be if it attracted construction workers, demolitions experts, fighters, soldiers and the poor and disenfranchised, instead of turning these people off with a rhetorical and pretentious worldview of political correctness.
That’s why I feel it’s important to turn ourselves into action-oriented activists and promote a syncretic philosophy, and militant creed that embraces the most radical and relevant views of both the left and the right, such as the Vegan Hardline. -WB
NIO: Were there any other tools in your “kit,” that were essential to successfully fulfill the job description.
Crowbar, gasoline, gloves, bandana and a lighter. But most importantly, the will and determination to use them. -WB
NIO: I was surprised to learn that the “Lone Wolf” always walked to work. Why was this important?
Everything about police response is geared towards locating, tracking and stopping vehicles. I have never driven to a target and I have never been caught in the act or near the scene. -WB
NIO: Every time we push ourselves to take action, we empower and strengthen ourselves. But very few have taken any action of the magnitude that you have. The morning after your first action – striking a definitive blow for the animals and permanently putting the degenerate sheepskin factory out of business – can you describe how you felt?
The day after I burnt down The Sheepskin Factory I felt awesome! Before that action I had so much tension, disenchantment and activist burnout, and that one act washed it all away. Nothing will ever compare to directly intervening and stopping a grave injustice. I also, all at once, felt in control of my life, perhaps for the first time. I was happy that The Sheepskin Factory had gotten a small taste of the hell that their business inflicted on our Mother Earth and her Animal Nations. I brushed my teeth that morning and looked in the mirror thinking, “I am a member of the Animal Liberation Front,” just like all my heroes. And every moment after that as long as I was alive, free and continuing my campaign, I was winning.
I’m really not trying to be romantic or melodramatic, but with the flick of the lighter I was changed for the better. I’ve been an activist for a long time and, without a doubt, the best things I have ever done was rescue and care for actual animals and burn down their exploiters. Everything else was done more to make me feel like I was making a difference, instead of saving life and dealing out justice to those guilty of destroying it. -WB
NIO: For your militaristic acts in defense of the animals enslaved in a holocaust, you are now a prisoner of war. Do you have any regrets? Looking back now, is there anything you would have done differently?
My biggest regret is that I confided in my brother who ended up getting wiretapped, and was the sole reason I was arrested. Not only because of my arrest, but because he stopped my work when I was really just getting started. I hope that everything he ever does in life fails, and I have nothing but hatred and contempt for him or anyone like him.
I also regret that I restrained myself by a philosophy of non-violence in direct action. That may sound extreme to some but it’s true. When I was out there I really was very close to sending a communiqué renouncing my affiliation as an A.L.F. operative, due to the A.L.F. stance on non-harm in direct action. I mean, why stifle our own activity simply out of concern for some Animal-abusing piece of shit. They don’t show any concern for Animals, obviously, since they profit from their death.
I regret that I only attacked the businesses responsible for Animal murder instead of the business owners themselves. And now it’s too late, since I will never be able to again partake in illegal direct action due to my lack of anonymity. I really wish that when I had the chance I would have not restricted myself with the vestiges of pacifism.
As far as regrets go, of course, I regret being imprisoned. After sentencing and my final judgment of 12 years, 3 months, I was having a rough time. I will have to serve 10 years of that sentence before I am eligible for parole. But like most situations, it’s a matter of perspective. The average federal prison sentence is 15 years. So many, many more people have it much worse than me. And when I get out I will be in my early to mid-forties, at which point I plan on immersing myself in Animal sanctuary work, which really is my first love as an activist.
At the end of the day, I would rather regret the things I have done than daydream about the things I wish I’d done. -WB
NIO: You have raised the bar in so many ways – in escalating tactics, remaining resilient and singularly defiant, modeling self-discipline and deliberation – and this movement owes you a huge debt of gratitude. What can we do out here to make your time in there more bearable?
Thank you so much for your kind words but “the movement” owes me very little and vice versa. All I need as a Prisoner Of War is letters of support, some books to read and a few bucks from time to time for commissary items and stationery products.
The main thing my supporters can do to make my time easier is be active, help actual Animals and become as energetic, radical and fanatical for the true liberation of the Earth and Animals as they possibly can. When people write me to tell me of their real world activism or I hear of communiqués from the Underground in solidarity with me, it makes my day. To know that people are concerned and care about me is important and uplifting, but to know that I’m part of a movement and resistance that goes on no matter what, is the best.
I love Animals and, in that love, their grief and pain has also been my sorrow; conversely, their liberation, freedom and victory is also my triumph. I’ve done what I could do, now get out there and sab the bastards!
Animal Liberation, whatever it may take! -WB
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