(Editor Note: Conservation Force’s John J. Jackson, III and his wife, Chrissie, were in London September 22nd for the pro-hunting “Liberty & Livelihood” March. This is their account of that trip.)
Never have Chrissie and I experienced anything like the “Liberty & Livelihood” march in London, England, on September 22, 2002. It was much more than a march. It was a phenomena.
We went to better understand how to defend hunting as a minority-type “civil rights” or “liberty” issue. Also to better understand the animal rightists’ allegations that practically all use of animals is “cruel,” particularly in their worldwide campaign to end all hunting. We went to fight before the war reaches our shores. We learned and experienced that and much more. It will forever be one of the proudest days of our lives.
The Countryside Alliance had organized prior marches. This time, the Alliance hoped to break all European march records with up to 300,000 marchers. That ambitious goal would make it the largest “civil rights” march in the history of all of Europe. It was!
Chrissie and I took our designated positions early, an hour before it began, in a biting wind on a bridge crossing the River Thames. It was the starting point for all international marchers who were rather thin in numbers. We were registered marchers and paid members of the Countryside Alliance representing Conservation Force and CIC (International Counsel of Game Management and Conservation).
We had also solicited other North American organizations to formally register their support “in spirit.” Though they were not counted as actual marchers, they were tallied as supporters. Those were The Wildlife Society (9,000 members); the International Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies (representing 75 state and provincial wildlife agencies of North America); the Foundation for North American Wild Sheep (7,000 members); Texas Wildlife Association (5,000 members), Texas Bighorn Society (500 members); the Campfire Club of American (470 members); and Shikar Safari Club International (200 members). A debt of gratitude is owed to those organizations that once again set themselves apart.
The low number of marchers worried us at our international starting point. When we crossed the bridge we were not prepared for the crowd, or the loud-cheering reception that gave us an importance way beyond our numbers. This friendliness and camaraderie created a bond and uncommon sense of community that grew all day. Everyone acted as a friend, yet you really knew no one. These were nice people. They were decent people. The marchers joined together to oppose intolerant, self-righteous interests that would not leave them alone. Never have we experienced anything like it, nor do we expect to again.
We merged again and again with streams of other marches from other starting points. The people were handsome, wholesome, cleanly dressed and good-natured. There was not one scrap of trash or paper dropped to the ground, and there were no incidents or arrests of marchers. The police had an easy day. These were decent people marching for the “liberty” to hunt, their country and way of life and their interrelated “livelihoods.” It was the “liberty and livelihood” march. The nature of the cause and the people made it even more special. Yet there were clear messages that a rage is building towards those that disrespect the country people and their culture.
The whistles, horns and everyone fell silent as we marched past the British Houses of Parliament and the statue of fallen soldiers that had died for liberty - many of the dead, of course, had come from the “country” or knew and loved hunting and the “field sports.” After all, hadn’t they died for the liberty and freedom to live the country way of life?
We passed under the large arch with the display counter register about mid-morning. Once through, we ducked behind a pillar of the arch in the center of the wide street. We were still worried about the numbers of people. We stood alone at that point as the swelling number of people swarmed around and passed us until it ended at 5:38 p.m. That side of the arch had a large painted statement, “YOU HAVE NOW BEEN COUNTED. THANK YOU!” The counter read 71,605 at our crossing. It climbed to 407,791 before we left that point six hours later! We witnessed the largest march in the long history of Europe. A march that filled every newspaper in London and in Europe. The crowds cheered as they passed under the registering counter. At points, it became a deafening roar that would go on for minutes, especially when the number crossed 250,000, 275,000, 300,000 and each additional 10,000 after that. It roared again at 400,000 because of the epic it was. You could hear the roar start and travel forward and backwards.
The pride of everyone grew as the day passed. The marchers developed a “well-done” attitude. The crowd swelled in size and pride. The continuous stream of marchers thickened even more. It rained when the counter reached 244,849 marchers. It rained again hard at 320,000, but it made no difference to the resolve. The message on the marchers’ wet faces confirmed the fact that we made the right decision to come. Many thousands saw our sign “Conservation Force, Hunters are Indispensable, USA” with the attached American Flag. Marchers crisscrossed out of their way to express their appreciation for our participation. “Thank you for being here. Thank you for caring . . . for your support. . . for being with us . . . very much indeed.” “Nice to see you good people here.” “Jolly good.” “Well done, Yanks!” “Excellent!” “Bully!” “Thank you, America!” “Brilliant!” “Nice to see you!”
Literally thousands of people had to make a gesture, speak to us, shake our hand or pat us on the shoulders. They would look at our sign, look at our Conservation Force shirts and beeline for us. Chrissie was speechlessly in tears for periods, and I had many lumps in my throat that afternoon. Chrissie said to me, “I’ve never been so proud to be a hunter. This is the greatest day of my life.” Tears welled in my own eyes as she expressed what everyone was feeling. The unabashed expression of appreciation for our presence and the support by fellow hunters who needed us deeply was just too much. We were proud to be hunters and proud to be Conservation Force representing hunters. It surprised and overwhelmed us.
The signs the marchers carried partly tell the story of this epic event. They are a study themselves that provides useful insight to those of us who have made it a part of our lives to put up a good fight. What follows are not spelling mistakes, just the clever way the British express themselves and their unique sense of humor.
“Born to Hunt, Forced to March, Ready to Fight.” “Let us Choose.” “Listen to us!” “MINORITIES MATTER.” “First my Hunting, Then my LIFE.” “Farmers’ Supporting Hunting.” “Hunting for Harmony.” “Let’s Keep Hunting.” “Rural Tradition, Not Prohibition.” “Tony’s Cronies Won’t Stop Me from Hunting on My Pony.” “Don’t Perform Country-CIDE on Us.” “Defend Liberty.” “The Countryside has been cut to the bone. Now please leave us alone.” “LEAVE HUNTING ALONE” “Foxes Saved - Farmers Culled.” “Why Ban Hunting?” “Your Choice - My Life.”
“If Hunting Is not for you, then Leave it ALONE.” “Liberty - Yours is Next.” “Field Sports to Stay, the Countryside Says So.” “The Last Dictator to Ban Fox Hunting was Hitler.” “I will Hunt.” “SAVE OUR HUNTING.” “Eat British Lamb, 50,000 Foxes do.” “Hunting Works.” “Never mind the Foreign War, Don’t Start a Civil War.” “Don’t Ban Hunting, I LOVE IT, SO DOES MY DOG.” “You Ban Hunting, We Ban Right to Roam.” “Don’t Kill My Horse, My Dog, My Way of Life.” “Ban Hunting at your Peril.” “Born to Hunt.” “Bang, Out of Order.” (There were lots of these).
“It’s About FREEDOM, WE LOOSE, YOU LOOSE.” “Preserve the Countryside - Pickle Blair.” “Ban Hunting and WE WILL BOOT YOU OUT.” “Why Ban MINORITIES? YOURS COULD BE NEXT.” “I AM HAPPY ABOUT HUNTING.” “WHAT’S NEXT?” “I’M FIGHTING FOR FREEDOM.” “LAST CHANCE BLAIR, LEAVE HUNTING ALONE.” “HANDS OFF HUNTING.” “WHO OWNS THE LAND?” “FOX OFF BLAIR! LEAVE HUNTING ALONE.” “LEAVE US ALONE, TONY BLAIR.” “I don’t hunt, but others have a right to.” “Don’t you Dare, Blair.” “BACK OFF BLAIR!” “I WANT TO HUNT.” “SAVE OUR COUNTRYSIDE.” “HUNTING IS NATURAL - EVEN FOXES DO IT.” “KEEP HUNTING.” “BANNING HUNTING WILL KILL OUR COUNTRYSIDE.” “Keep the cowshit in the country and the bullshit in the city.” (Lots of these)
“Proud to be a HUNTER.” “FREEDOM MAKES GREAT BRITAIN.” “BEWARE, HUNTING IS ONLY THE THIN EDGE OF THE WEDGE.” “Criminalize hunting - Criminalize us.” “Blair has driven more farmers off their lands than Mugabe.” “Mugabe-Blair: Spot the Difference.” “Just 26,000 people own half of England.” “Q: What do Tony Blair and Robert Mugabe have in Common? A: They both hate white farmers.”
“Marching for the Next Generation.” “We lose! You lose!” “You’ll never stop us! We’ll carry on but illegally.” “Hunting creates life and livelihood.” “The Countryside. . . not a place, a way of life!” “Hunt - Freedom of Choice.” “Stop playing with something you don’t understand.” “We hunt by permission. Let the farmers decide.” “Please leave us alone.” “Hunting Freedom Fighting.” “A good government leads its people. It does not dictate to them!” “We want a countryside to hunt in, not a Theme Park!” “Keep Marching for Freedom.” “We March Because We Care.”
“Respect Our Culture. The Oldest Culture in England.” “Regulations + Modulation = Strangulation. FREE the Countryside.” “Don’t take our freedom away!?!?” “ The peasants are revolting.” “Don’t take Liberties, Mr. Blair.” “The Green Giant Marches! Handle with Care!” “Compassion without understanding is cruel.” “Ban us maybe, stop us, NEVER.” “Custodian, ‘Yes’, Criminals, ‘No’.” “Fighting for my way of Life.” “Why ban hounds in the countryside when the rest of the country is going to the dogs?” “Ban Bigots, Save Hunters.” “Ban Dictators, START AT HOME.” “Support Hunting - BOOT Labourt out.” “Some like Soccer, Some like Hunting. Don’t let the government decide for you.” “We will not be culturally cleansed.” “Ban Income Tax - a majority don’t like it.” “It’s not over ‘til we win.” “KILL the Tradition, You KILL the Countryside.” “Hunting pre-dates Government. You Exceed Your Authority! ! !” “HUNTING - NO Surrender.”
“The country way of life is being crushed.” “Never underestimate a minority.” “Hunt, Fish, Shoot, Farm, Fight for Freedom - That’s Natural.” “HUNTING” (a two-person size poster with thousands of signatures). “HUNT - I’m marching today to make certain we can all hunt tomorrow.” “So much for tolerance and diversity!” “No to a ban on hunting, but yes to a ban on ignorance, bigotry and prejudice.” “Democracy, Not Dictatorship.” “The Countryside need is more than you Mr. Blair and New Labourt.” “Get the Urban control freaks off our backs.” “Ban prejudice, not hunting.” “What’s the Use of football?? Ban it!” “FISHING NEXT!” “But where will all the foxes live?” “Leave us hunt in Peace.” “Marching is not working. Let’s hunt the Poodle.” “Don’t make us criminals.” “Rural Britain is not a theme park.” “PRESSURE the countryside and its way of life.” “SAVE US . . . SAVE HUNTING.” (Pictures of horses, dogs and foxes - all 3). “Vermin or The People? Priorities.”
“DEFRA=Defend every facet of rural activity.” “Your country, your future.” “Hunting is good for hares, foxes, deer and conservation, ask me why.” “Hounded out by Labourt.” “Civil Rights or Civil . . . War. No more dictators.” “Hunt Pride.” (Lots of these). “You can’t eat meat and be against hunting.” “Who’s Hunting Who?” “Protect our countryside and its ways.” “Pistols were not banned, Pistol sports were.” “Ban Blair’s Bully Boys.” “If you stop hunting, you kill British Freedom.” “We’re hunting for Civil Rights.” “Blair, Blair, Black Sheep - Do we have a say? No sir, No sir, I want my own way!” “March for my 88th Birthday” (Poster with lady in wheelchair). “NE TE CONFUN DANT ILLEGITIMI - Don’t let the bastards grind us down.” “We don’t just care about the countryside. We care for it!” “If fox hounds were coloured and all huntsmen gay, we wouldn’t be marching on London today!!!” “Support us too, Tony.” “We love sheep.” “We love hunting.” “Hunting Forever. Ban it? NEVER!” “They will ban sex next.”
“Destroy us and you kill conservation and 1,000 years of culture. We nurture the countryside for all.” “My HENS SAY YES to Fox Hunting.” “LITTLE BO PEEP HAS LOST HER SHEEP - Forced to March - Ready to FIGHT.” “Don’t temp us to fight. Put the countryside right!” “Hunting is Forever - Unlike Politicians.” “Who is the Ethnic Minority Now?” “Live and Let Live.” “FOR FOX SAKE, BAN THE ANTIS.” “I love my country, but I fear any Government.” “Let the country-WISE Run the country.” “Hound someone else.” “Hunting Is a Fundamental Human Right - Genesis. Chapter 27, Verse 3: Take Your Weapons, GO OUT to the fields and Hunt.” “We are Civil & Right.” “League against Cruel Laws.” “My kid will want to hunt.” “Live and Let Hounds live.” “Our land, Our values.” “Hands Off Hunting.” “Hunting is our Heritage.” “SAVE our Country - Pickle an Anti.” “‘Spot’ the Criminal” (Referring to a dog’s name). “I am here for hunting and proud of it.” “Please respect our country way of life.”
“Said the London Rat to the Wily Fox, ‘Consider yourself a lucky B....R! They poison us - everyday’ - Extend hunting. I say!” “U won’t stop me.” “Leave country sports alone.” “Leave country folk issues to country folk.” “Keep Britain Hunting.” “You look after the country, and we’ll look after the countryside.” “Rural Rage.” “We are proud of our countryside, so leave it alone.” “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.” “Fight for Freedom of Choice.” “Freedom to Choose.”
“Who will lead this mighty Band, to fight for Freedom in our land, we HAD DEMOCRACY NOW SO RARE, LOOK to your History Books, Mr. Blair.” “Let Countrymen Survive.” “Countryside, field sport and conservation combine.” “Farmers Hunt.” “CIVIL Liberties for ALL MINORITIES.” “Don’t Judge what you don’t understand.” “It ar’nt that I loves the fox less, but I loves the ‘ound more’.”
“We survived B.S.E., Swine Fever, Foot and Mouth, But T.B. Will be the Death of the countryside!” “Listen to Us NOW OR CRY HAVOC! AND LET SLIP THE DOGS OF WAR.” “Country life is to stay.” “War Within the Law.” “Democracy, Not Dictatorship.” “Civil Liberty for ALL minorities.” “Keep hunting! We can, and we will!” “For Fox Sake vote 4 Hunting.” “Save the countryside, KEEP HUNTING.” “HAVE YOU HEARD OUR MESSAGE NOW!” “LEAVE US ALONE.”
Parliament has been headed on a course to ban traditional fox hunting and all hound hunting. There were hearings on “cruelty” and hunting regulations for days before the march. Tony Blair’s Labourt Party that is currently in power has been moving the bills. The leadership of the opposing Conservative Party has promised to reinstate hunting when they come back into power. If fox hunting is lost all hunting and fishing is vulnerable because nothing else has the strength and broad base of support. Winston Churchill’s 80-year-old daughter and granddaughter marched with many other notables. The night before she made a truly convincing speech to save hunting. Prince Charles fudged on the general practice of the British Royal Family not to enter into political forays. He reportedly made a private statement that was plastered by the press across the media. He said that if the hunting is banned he “might as well leave this country and spend the rest of my life skiing.” Does that mean he will give up the throne? Obviously, hunting is important to him, but it is also important to all other sportsmen who are unlikely to be able to match the influence of royalty, celebrities, and 407,791 people to save their own hare or bird hunting. The “townies” would not respect their way of life, or leave them alone to live in peace. – John J. Jackson, III.
For more information on Conservation Force and/or the services available through Jackson’s alliance with The Hunting Report, write:
One Lakeway Center
Metairie, LA 70002.
Tel. 504-837-1233. Fax 504-837-1145.