Newsletter - Animal Writes sm
8 September 1999 Issue

Whale Hunt Update

My name is Josh Harper. I am one of two animal rights activists currently facing felony charges for intervening in the killing of a gray whale. I wanted to take this opportunity to tell everyone who reads Animal Rights Online about the situation in Neah Bay.

As most of you know members of the Makah Nation have recently begun hunting whales in the Olympic Peninsula off the coast of Washington State. They claim an ancestral right to do this, and it is true that their ancestors did sign a treaty protecting their "right" to kill whales. However, their methods of killing are far from tribal, and many members of the tribe remain opposed to the hunt. When one looks closely it is easy to see this hunt for what it is -- a macho display of dominance over nature.

First and foremost the Makah tribe has no sustenance need for whales, and has never traditionally eaten gray whales. GRE whales are bottom feeders, their blubber tastes very bad and traditionally indigenous people would use them for oil or ivory. Very few members of the tribe are actually benefiting from the murder of the whale, and those members who oppose the kill have been terrorized. One elder member of the tribe had to flee the reservation in fear for her life. Her dog was found beaten to death nearly one mile from her home, and her family members have been threatened as well. The richest members of the tribe are exploiting the poorest members of the tribe to make this hunt a reality.

Last March Sea Defense Alliance returned to the waters of Neah Bay to patrol for whalers and protect the whales. Our all vegan crew camped out in a small cabin for nearly two months, rising early in the mornings to get dressed and ready for duty. We were alone at first, with no other groups in the water for most of the season.

One morning on our patrol Jake Conroy and myself were riding in a 19 foot inflatable zodiac when we spotted whalers sneaking along the coastline. They were towing the tribal canoe with the not-so-tribal-speedboat. We radioed our flagship, Bulletproof, that the hunt had began.

For the next several hours Jake and myself placed our bodies between the whales and the guns of the hunters. We used smoke canisters to obscure the vision of the whalers and air horns to distract them. Every time they lifted a harpoon we were there, every time a gun was pointed we were in the way. It took a military force to remove us from the waters -- the US Coast Guard, who have thus far spent more than 15 million tax payer dollars aiding and abetting the murder of whales, took us out of the hunting grounds and placed us under arrest. Before we knew it we were in jail, being charged with felony assault for allegedly using flares and fire extinguishers to distract the killers.

Days after a court order prevented Jake and I from returning to the coast, whalers killed a 3 year old female. The child they murdered with an anti tank gun was then dragged onto a beach where men did back flips off her lifeless body. She was carved up by members of the National Marine Fisheries Service (at tax payer expense) and pieces of her body were eaten by children, who washed down the salty fat with cans of cherry coke. When local people in opposition to the hunt built a memorial to "Baby," as the murdered whale has come to be known, three men destroyed their work. Two members of the coast guard and one member of the Makah tribe were arrested for vandalizing the memorial.

Sea Defense Alliance plans to continue our work in Neah Bay. The arrests and possible jail sentences for Jake and I will not deter us from taking direct action. Unlike other groups on the waters of Neah Bay, we are all vegan, and believe in the philosophy of animal liberation. Our goal is not simply to "conserve" whales so that people may enjoy looking at them. We want them free for their own sakes, to enjoy their lives with as little interference as possible. The natural world is dying, and so long as those responsible go unpunished, Sea Defense Alliance will be the grassroots navy of the animal rights and environmental movement.

Jake and I will likely go to trial on October 4th. If we are found guilty it is likely that we will be sentenced to at least 90 days in jail. This will keep us from stopping the next hunt. The Makah can kill many more whales on their illegal permit, and talks have begun about starting "family hunts." Sea Defense Alliance is in need of support to feed and house activists, fuel our boats, and continue all of our other vital work. Also be sure to look on the web for more information about the hunt.

For more information --

Sea Defense Alliance
PO Box 401
Williams, OR 97544

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