In this essay, I’m going to delve into a much-neglected topic in the underground, namely remaining stouthearted after an arrest. Its a touchy subject that I feel qualified to address. So before I get into the bulk of what I have to say, let me throw my own credentials on the table. I’m not trying to impress as much as verify that I have earned the right to critique on this subject.
In the winter of 1997, I was convicted of arson in Mason City, Iowa for burning down the house of convicted drug dealer Steve Gomez and the methamphetamine operation in that house. I was pretty much caught in the act, being as he was under federal investigation for selling large amounts of meth and I was younger and acted purely on emotion, throwing all caution to the wind. This was my introduction to the criminal injustice system.
Then as now, a whole circus ensued around my case. Steve was a very violent man that wanted me dead for burning down his dream house. The police, knowing this, put me on what’s called the “county shuffle”, moving me from jail to jail every couple of weeks and only bringing me back to Cerro Gordo County on the day of court appearances. During this time, Steve’s sister got busted stashing a stockpile of illegal weapons for her brother at her Mason City home (all of this was published in the Mason City Globe-Gazette, for my critics that think I’m just inventing comic book stories out of my previous case). Steve himself was busted for drug-dealing on a large scale.
After his arrest, Steve snitched on 18 other dealers across four other states, and when the feds seized his property, it included a Harley-Davidson shop, a jewelry store and land in Mexico (also printed in the Globe-Gazette). What wasn’t printed was how Steve had a 20 thousand dollar contract out on my life, or how the feds tried to get me to help them out in their case against Steve by attempting to get me to agree to a completely fabricated story. I said no thanks to being a snitch, and in turn they ensured that I received the maximum sentence of 10 years in my case, for harming no life; as a first-time felon, I spent 4 years in prison. Most of that time in Anamosa, Iowa, a maximum security penitentiary built in the 1800s and surrounded by 40 foot walls.
I am now facing three federal counts of arson involving animal enterprises across two states, and despite it all I remain in relatively good spirits and as defiant as ever. While arrest and imprisonment are never desirable to the individual or movement, and I definitely have made my mistakes, namely confiding in my brother who fed me to the ATF for pocket change. But show me any imprisoned activist and I’ll show you mistakes made. Thats is why we are, or were, jailed (excluding the rare political set up and growing number of conspiracy cases).
There is an old adage that goes “If you can’t stand the heat, then stay out of the kitchen.”It applies well to the underground for animal liberation. Activists in other countries seem to understand this far better than we pampered Americans. If you read prison letters from animal rights activists like Mel Broughton, Heather Nicholson, Gerrah Selby, Natasha and Greg Avery or Adrian Magdaleno, you will see reflected in their writings and mine a primary concern concern for animal and earth liberation and acceptance of our fate as prisoners as par for the course. That is a healthy attitude.
We are the landmarks on the road to victory and there will be many more of us before our mother earth and her animal nations are released from the mechanized oppression of our species. That being said, prison is obviously an unpleasant situation. I would love to be outside enjoying the fresh air in autumn, which is my favorite time of year. But I’m not, because ultimately I choose to resist death and suffering for those that cannot defend themselves. I choose to do so in a clandestine manner and when the hammer of injustice falls down upon my head, it will ultimately be because I decided to act directly and put myself in harms way.
That’s the way the vegan cookie crumbles, and there is no regrets to be had, no apologies to make. At the bottom of my heart, I care for the plight of animals and the earth. I know I can’t single-handedly change things, the hell that our kind inflicts on all kinds is bigger than any one person can fix; but I know what I can do. I can fight against it. I can speak out. I can reject abject cruelty in my day-to-day life. I can realize that even though the system seeks my incarceration and a million cowards spread rumors about me online, that only I can make the decision to be reactive and fearful or revolutionary and unapologetic.
I love my life and I believe in what I say. Adversity, for me, does not change that, it only tests it. This oppressive system wants you to feel as though you’ve lost before you’ve begun. It wants us to be reactive and unsure. This system wants us all to be dependent and frightened. They want us divided over a million inconsequential political, religious and personal issues. They want us to seek validation from groups and organizations instead of acting alone. They want these things from us to better control the masses and continue with business as usual. They spend incredible amounts of time, money and effort to ensure and enforce this apathetic and oppressed mentality. Because the truth is scary. That truth is that one person or a small group of people that are empowered, focused, and courageous can make great changes. Indeed, its the only thing that ever does.
The struggle for liberation is not about the individual, even more so for the animal rights and earth rights camps. It is not who we are, or the hardships we face as activists that are ultimately important. What is important is that we take every opportunity to further the cause, the animals’ cause. That we remain vital and even and especially in the face of adversity because that’s when it counts the most, fair weather activism only goes so far.
When events radically change in our own life, we need to exhibit enough versatility and integrity to not only weather the storm but embrace opportunity where others see only hardship. As I said in the beginning of this essay, it takes a stout heart. But there is no great reward that does not involve risk. There must at some point be a counterbalance; that is what the radical wing of any movement strives for. Incredible malice demands incredible compassion. The cure for greed is selflessness, and the death, torture and abuses that other-than-human animals endure in secret behind walls and in the country, intentionally outside of the sight of the masses, demands outspokenness.
My heart goes out to every person that has sacrificed their freedom for earth and animal liberation. I hope your time is well-spent and you come out of all your trials and tribulations stronger and better off. For all those who have fought for the entire earth’s fate: animal liberation whatever it may take!
from the oppressor’s cage, Golden, Colorado.
November 1, 2010
Write Bond letters of prisoner support at: SupportWalter.org (for most current)
Walter Bond is facing federal arson charges for his alleged role as an ALF operative known as “Lone Wolf”. “Lone Wolf” took credit for three different arsons throughout the Spring and Summer of 2010 in Denver and Salt Lake City: The Skeepskin Factory, a store selling furs and pelts; Tandy Leather Store; and Tiburon, a restaurant serving foie gras.
Walter’s brother alerted the FBI and the ATF about his suspicions that his brother, Walter, was behind the attacks. While Walter was visiting Denver in July 2010, his brother helped participate in a sting operation, allegedly wearing a wire and helping procure audio evidence against Walter. Walter was arrested in Denver and is now being held in the Jefferson County Jail in Golden, Colorado awaiting trial.
Walter has been a dedicated animal rights activist and anarchist for several decades and has struggled for animal liberation and against a deadly and genocidal culture of drug abuse in the United States. Walter was the subject of a song by the vegan straight edge band Earth Crisis. The band’s song “To Ashes” was inspired by Bond’s 1998 prison sentence for arson. Bond was convicted of burning down a meth lab owned by a drug dealer who was selling to his brother.