In recent years attempts have been made by a group known as the ‘ Garden Gnome Liberation Front’ to free garden gnomes from the oppression of having to stand for hours on end without pay or insurance. This group operates mainly in the European countries stealing or liberating garden gnomes under the cover of darkness.
In July of 2001, a gathering of garden gnomes were arranged by the group on a roundabout in eastern France. Police estimated that more than one hundred gnomes were involved in the gathering, some of them spelling out the words, ‘ the Gnomes.’ It was reported that many of the gnomes had been freed from lawns and gardens in the town of Chavelot the night before. A police spokesman stated that, “ was a bit like a giant crèche. Everything had been carefully set up." Meaning that the gnomes spring appeared to be arranged in something of a nativity scene.
The group first gained attention in the early nineties for their advocating of returning gnomes to the wild. And the group appeared to have been hampered by the conviction of their ringleader in 1997 for his part in the freeing of over one hundred and fifty gnomes, but they came back in 1998 with the staged suicide of eleven gnomes in Eastern France. The gnomes supposedly left a message bearing the words, ‘ you read these few words we will no longer be part of your selfish world, where we serve merely as pretty decoration." While in the year 2000 the group liberated twenty gnomes in the night at a Paris garden show.
In the past few years the group has appeared to be relatively dormant with little to none gnome disappearances. Families are loosing their fear and beginning to place garden gnomes back in more unprotected areas of the yard. The Garden Gnome Liberation Front may one day come out of hibernation and go on the prowl for a gnome near you.