What is the Earth Liberation Front? History & List of ELF Actions
The Earth Liberation Front (ELF) consists of covert cells of autonomous individuals that, in the words of the North American Earth Liberation Front Press Office, use "direct action in the form of economic sabotage to stop the systematic exploitation and destruction of the planet." Through acts of "ecotage," Earth Liberation Front activists aim to send a strong message in defense of the environment that cannot be delivered through legal means.
Leadership and History
The Earth Liberation Front is decentralized with no leadership or hierarchy or official organization; however, the North American Earth Liberation Front Press Office disseminates information about the Earth Liberation Front and its actions to the public and media.
Autonomous activists who claim themselves to be part of the Earth Liberation Front perform actions of "ecotage": they destroy property using tools or arson in defense of the environment or animals. Ecotage directly stops actions that are harmful to the environment and aims to promote a more environmentally sustainable society through a strong message.
The Earth Liberation Front was formed by members of Earth First! at a national meeting in England in 1992. Earth First! did not want to hamper its popularity with illegal actions that overtly broke the law, so it created the Earth Liberation Front.
There was no universal agreement over this, but it was accepted amongst the movement that British EF! would instead continue to advocate and focus on civil disobedience and mass demonstrations. If people wanted to participate in acts of ecotage, the new name "Earth Liberation Front" would be used, with its name and guidelines derived from the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), another movement that uses direct action to liberate animals or sabotage companies using them.
The Earth Liberation Front, which has also come to be known as "elve" or "elves", has spread throughout Europe by 1994, Canada by 1995, and the United States by 1996. The North American Earth Liberation Front Press Office was founded in 2000 as a public voice for the decentralized movement in North America.
Although Earth Liberation Front guidelines require that its activists take precautions to prevent harming human and non-human life, the Earth Liberation Front was classified as a top domestic terror threat by the US Government in 2001.
List of Notable "Ecotage" Actions
- The ELF's first known action took place against Fisons, a UK peat company that had destroyed peat bogs. Friends of the Earth legally mounted campaigns against Fisons for 2 years to no avail, so on April Fool's day in 1992, ELF activists sabotaged Fisons' machinery.
- The first ELF act in Canada took place in 1995. Calling itself the "Earth Liberation Army," a group of ELF activists burned down a wildlife museum and damaged a hunting lodge in British Columbia.
- The first ELF act in the United States took place in Oregon in 1996. The ELF activists took a series of actions against McDonalds restaurants, including spraypainting "504 years of genocide" on one McDonalds.
- The ELF burned a ski resort in Vail, Colorado in 1998 in reaction to the ski resorts plans to expand further by clear-cutting more forest to the detriment of the environment and wildlife.
- On the New Year's Eve of 1999, ELF activists set fire to an agricultural research office at the University of Michigan in reaction to its GMO research.
- In 2003, the ELF claimed responsibility for a series of attackes in San Diego. In addition to burning down a 206-unit condominium, they damaged 125 SUVs and Hummers.
- In 2007, ELF set fire to four multi-million dollar homes in Seattle, saying that they way they were constructed was black, not green.
- In March 2009, ELF activists sabatoged construction work through arson at a University in Guadelajara, Mexico.
- In September 2009, ELF activists in Washington state toppled 2 newly-constructed radio station towers in objection to the environmental damage caused by radio waves.