Friday, July 17, 2009

Gnome Liberation - Day 4

There exist various gnome liberation groups across the globe who fight for gnome rights and to ‘stop oppressive gardening,’ ( The Front de Liberation des Nains de Jardin (FLNJ) of France, is the oldest and most prominent gnome liberating organization. Established in 1996 it achieved immediate success, liberating, more than 200 gnomes in a forest outside the town of Alencon in Normany, France ( Upon the gnome’s discovery, the statues had been repainted, were wearing spectacles in order to see in the dark and were found with large stores of pasta, supposedly so the gnomes would not go hungry in the wild (Mennes 2004: 46). Throughout 1997, the FLNJ stole over 150 garden gnomes, stating that the gnomes deserved the same freedoms as people. That year, the police arrested and convicted three men of the possession of 184 stolen gnomes. The men were given a prison sentence of two months each (Mennes 2004).

In September 1998, local residents of Briey France awoke to a grisly sight: 11 garden gnomes hanged by the neck from a bridge. A letter found nearby indicated the true horror of this tragedy, that these gnomes took their own lives ( The letter read, “When you read these few words we will no longer be part of your selfish world, where we serve merely as pretty decoration.” Driven to the brink by their slave owners, these gnomes saw no alternative but to end it all, or so the Garden Gnome Liberation Front (Front de Libération des Nains de Jardin) would have the public believe.

Following the mass suicide in 1998, the FLNJ remained quiet until the 2000 Paris garden show, which displayed over 2,000 gnomes. In a nighttime raid, the FLNJ ‘liberated’ twenty gnomes from the show. Following this reemergence, police in France issued a general security alert to gnome owners (Sampson 2000). Many gnome owners resorted to taking their sculptures indoors at night. The people of Gignac, near Montpellier even formed a vigilante patrol using a truck with an elevated platform and a powerful searchlight to thwart any potential liberators (Sampson 2000).

According to Harpers Index from 1996 to 2001 the FLNJ relocated over 6,000 gnomes to the forests of France (Mennes 2004: 47). Not all have been found. In 2001, 100 gnomes were discovered in a forest in the Vosges region of France, and the following day, 74 gnomes were arranged on the steps of a cathedral in Saint-Die (Mennes 2004: 47). That same year in Chavelot, dozens of gnomes were arranged in a traffic roundabout to spell out the words, ‘free the gnomes,’ (Mennes 2004: 47). As recent as 2006, the FLNJ stole 80 gnomes in the central Limousin region of France (

Many sister organizations to FLNJ now exist all over the world such as the Gnome Liberation Front and Gnome Liberation Army in the United Kingdom and Los Gnomos de Jardin Quieren Viajar in Spain. Others include Free The Gnomes in the United States and the Movimento Autonomo per la Liberazione delle Anime Giardino (MALAG) from Italy.

FreeTheGnomes, an American based gnome liberation group, is one of the youngest, founded only in 2006, but most widespread via the internet on social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace ( Unlike other groups, they do not advocate gnome theft or criminal acts, but instead call upon their supporters to peacefully protest and petition gnome owners and governments to end oppressive gardening and emancipate captured gnomes. They also encourage the formation of local chapters of freethegnomes to work within the community. They have ongoing petitions to governments to legislate for gnome freedoms and long standing boycotts against businesses like Home Depot, which they refer to as Home Despot, who supply gnomes to potential slave owners (

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