One of the worst things about being on probation is not being allowed contact with other felons- a major problem since my closest friends have been people of conscience in a world where laws protect the strong and victimize the weak. I miss many people with all of my heart, but right now I want to say a little bit about my friend Jonathan Paul.
Jonathan (Or “JP”, as his friends call him,) became a vegan in the mid 1980s. At that time he was friends with one of the most epic crews of activists in the 20th century. Before long he was sabotaging hunts, raiding labs, and also participating in the necessary but inglorious grind of educational work. Over the years he was involved in some of the movement’s most iconic actions and raids, but that is a story that I will leave for him to tell.
I met Jonathan at a conference in Portland in 1997, and soon was working alongside him and Jake Conroy in the Olympic Peninsula with the Sea Defense Alliance. JP was an early riser who never shirked hard work when an animal’s life was at stake. He lived with rescued, injured animals who required constant attention to their special needs but never complained. He was famous in the movement at that point, but he never had that despicable arrogance that seems to infect so many activists living in the spotlight.
Like many people who love each other deeply, we fought sometimes, and even went years without speaking to each other. Still, I never lost respect for him. A few years ago he began serving time for his part in burning down a horse slaughterhouse in Oregon. One of the things I most looked forward to during my own incarceration was seeing him again, and it’s something I still dream about. Each day brings me closer to reuniting with him and other old friends. Until then, I want to say something to the young generation just now entering the fray: Keep your friends close, love and protect each other, and commit to that beautiful, shared endeavor of progressing your politics through revolutionary action. Remember that your comrades can be taken from you, and you from them, and treat each moment together as all the more special because of it.