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07/15/2001 Entry: "The French aren't all bad."

Garden Gnome
French Gnomes Helped on Way to Spiritual Freedom
STRASBOURG, France (Reuters) - More than 70 garden gnomes were found on the steps of a cathedral in northeastern France after an undercover operation by the shadowy Garden Gnome Liberation Front, a regional newspaper said on Thursday.The kitsch creatures had been abducted from their green, floral homes and assembled on the steps of the cathedral in the town of Saint-Die, La Liberte de l'Est reported.

A banner of the Gnome Liberation Front, which aims to ''free'' gnomes and ``return them to the wild,'' was found at the scene.

Local police who gathered the little statues declined to comment to journalists in an effort to contain what appeared to be a spiraling of gnome abductions in the area.

This is the second covert operation by the Front in as many days. Motorists in eastern France were surprised to find more than 100 gnomes, snow whites and other gaudy garden statues on a roundabout on Wednesday. Some were arranged to spell out ''Free the Gnomes.''

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