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Animal Liberation Front Flashback: Explosions Destroy Utah Feed Plant

In 1997, the Animal Liberation Front (A.L.F.) detonated explosives at the nation’s largest fur feed production plant. The explosion gutted the building, inflicting over $1 million in damages, and one of the most significant targets in the fur industry was destroyed. A spokesperson from the Fur Commission USA would recently refer to this action as the local fur industry’s “darkest hour”.

I am posting little-seen photos of the aftermath to celebrate this action as one of the most strategic and large-scale in the history of the Animal Liberation Front. A few reasons I feel the FBAC action is worthy of notice:

*It aimed for maximum destruction, not minimum damage, and did a thorough job of decommissioning the target.

*It destroyed the feed building, and the trucks which deliver the feed – eliminating both the production and distribution-end of the operation.

*At the time, the building kept in business over 50 mink farms in Utah, making it a crucial lynchpin and weak point in an already weak industry.

BEFORE:

Fur Breeder's Agricultural Cooperative - Utah

AFTER:

This was not the first attempt at decommissioning the Fur Breeder’s Agricultural Coop. The first came in 1991 during Operation Bite Back, when an incendiary device left at the building failed to ignite.

This was arguably the first use of explosives in the A.L.F.’s history (there had been several previous smaller-scale actions in which the use of “pipe bombs” were alleged, and explosions at at least one other animal exploitation site went unclaimed  by activists). Later, in 2003, the Revolutionary Cells set off explosives at two pharmaceutical companies in California.

The demolition of the Fur Breeder’s Agricultural Cooperative was far more triumphant than its aftermath…

On June 19th, 1997, Johsua Ellerman was indicted by a federal grand jury on felony charges of using seven “explosive devices” to destroy the coop. The indictment alleged he and co-conspirators placed devices under six trucks, and one inside the building.

Josh Ellerman went on the run.  One month later he turned himself in and accepted a plea deal in which he offered his full cooperation and testimony against others. Based on Josh’s testimony, six others were indicted in 1998 for their participation in the bombing: Clinton Colby Ellerman, Josh’s younger brother; Andrew N. Bishop; Alexander David Slack; Adam Troy Peace; Sean Albert Gautschy and one other person. The animal liberation movement had its second high-profile snitch.

Tragically, one of those named by Josh Ellerman – Alex Slack – committed suicide before going to trial. Colby Ellerman also accepted a plea deal, and with little evidence connecting the remaining three defendants to the action, the rest were acquitted.

The only two people to serve prison time for the bombing were the snitches themselves: Colby Ellerman served six years, and Josh Ellerman served seven. They are believed to be living in Utah, with some rumors in recent years placing Josh as working at a 7-11.

The action itself stands as a reminder of one night of action going further than a million angry words.

-Peter Young

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