Friday, December 16, 2011
Castagnera on Animal Rights
The Roots of the Animal Rights Movement
In his novel of seventeenth-century England, Quicksilver, author Neal Stephenson has members of the Royal Society “starving a toad in a jar to see if new toads would grow out of it,” draining “all the blood out of a large dog and putting it into a smaller dog minutes later,” and removing “the rib cage from a living mongrel.” Since Stephenson’s representations appear to be historically accurate, little wonder that the “first significant animal rights movement began in nineteenth-century England, where the impetus was opposition to the use of un-anaesthetized animals in scientific research.” The only wonder is that it took so long for social mores to rise to the level of repugnance for this practice that the “movement inspired protests, legislative reforms in the United Kingdom, and the birth of numerous animal protection organizations….”
The rise of such sentiments paralleled the changing views of England’s leading philosophers (including so-called “natural philosophers”) toward animals. While Rene Descartes considered animals to be “organic machines,” David Hume wrote in the eighteenth century, “Next to the ridicule of denying an evident truth, is that of taking much pains to defend it; and no truth appears to me more evident, than that beasts are endow'd with thought and reason as well as men. The arguments are in this case so obvious, that they never escape the most stupid and ignorant.” Jeremy Bentham, the early-nineteenth-century father of Utilitarianism, added, “Other animals…, on account of their interests having been neglected by the insensibility of the ancient jurists, stand degraded into the class of things.... The day has been, I grieve it to say in many places it is not yet past, in which the greater part of the species, under the denomination of slaves, have been treated ... upon the same footing as ... animals are still. The day may come, when the rest of the animal creation may acquire those rights which never could have been withholden from them but by the hand of tyranny. The French have already discovered that the blackness of skin is no reason why a human being should be abandoned without redress to the caprice of a tormentor. It may come one day to be recognized, that the number of legs, the villosity of the skin, or the termination of the os sacrum, are reasons equally insufficient for abandoning a sensitive being to the same fate. What else is it that should trace the insuperable line? Is it the faculty of reason, or perhaps, the faculty for discourse?...[T]he question is not, Can they reason? nor, Can they talk? but, Can they suffer? Why should the law refuse its protection to any sensitive being?... The time will come when humanity will extend its mantle over everything which breathes....”
Although the anti-vivisection movement was birthed in the early nineteenth-century alongside the significant scientific activity which characterized that period, and despite its long history of opposition to animal research, the movement cannot be credited with stopping a single scientific experiment until 1977, when the movement’s outcries ended NIH funding of certain grizzly and notorious cat experiments that the federal agency had funded for some seventeen years at New York’s Museum of Natural History.
In fact, not until the 1960s did a robust animal-rights movement emerge in the United States, part and parcel of the socio-cultural revolution that swept through American society in such varied forms as the Hippy Movement, the anti-war protests, the sexual revolution and the drug culture. An early victory was the 1966 Laboratory Animal Welfare Act. In 1971 NIH issued its policy on the “Care and Treatment of Laboratory Animals.” This was replaced by Public Health Service Regulations in 1973.
In 1981 Johns Hopkins University established its Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing, which describes itself as follows:
The Johns Hopkins Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing (CAAT) has worked with scientists since 1981 to find new methods to replace the use of laboratory animals in experiments, reduce the number of animals tested, and refine necessary tests to eliminate pain and distress.
We are an academic, science-based center affiliated with the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. We believe the best science is humane science. Our programs seek to provide a better, safer, more humane future for people and animals.
We provide a variety of resources, including grants for scientists developing non-animal methods workshops on alternative methods, books, newsletters, and other publications.
We also manage Altweb, an international online clearinghouse of alternatives news and resources.
Despite these pioneering efforts and all the subsequent advances in the regulation and humane treatment of laboratory animals, animal rights activists’ targeting of scientific, including university, laboratories has increased in recent years. To understand why, it’s worth noting the several levels of animal activists in terms of philosophical orientation.
Animal Activist Philosophy and Tactics
David DeGrazia identifies three gradations of standards subscribed by activists:
• Sliding-scale model: “Animals may be used in research only where their use is consistent with giving their interests appropriate moral weight in view of the animals’ cognitive, emotional, and social complexity.”
• Utilitarianism: “Animals may be used in research only where their use is likely to maximize the overall balance of benefits – factoring in likelihood of success – over harms, where all parties’ (including animals’) interests are impartially considered.”
• Strong animal-rights view: “Animals may be used in research only where (1) their involvement does not harm them or (2) their involvement is in their overall best interests (therapeutic research). This view might also permit animals to be used in research where (3) their involvement poses only minimal risk to them.”
Clearly, the third level is the most demanding. Indeed, the definition proffered by DeGrazia masks the extreme nature of this last position. The devil, as they say, is in the details. For example, whether what a scientist does to his animals harms them or not depends entirely on the definition of the word “harm.” If one includes under harm the mere caging of an animal, then it is virtually impossible for a research scientist to work with animals in his lab. Similarly, if one deems the anxiety caused to an animal by the mere handling of that animal to be “harm,” then, once again, the definition would make it well-nigh impossible for a researcher to work with any such animals.
If these interpretations seem far-fetched, then consider the following:
PETA: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
Every year, more than 3 million dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, and other animals are euthanized because they were born into a world that does not have enough homes for them. For every one companion animal who lives indoors with a human family and receives the attention, health care, and emotional support that he or she needs, there are thousands just barely surviving. Millions of domestic animals never know a kind human touch and live hard lives on the street before dying equally hard deaths.
Others suffer at the hands of an unfit guardian who deprives them of veterinary care and other basic necessities: Social birds are left alone in tiny, barren cages for years as decorations; rabbits, guinea pigs, and hamsters are kept in filthy cages and only paraded out as a source of entertainment now and then; cats are left outside and often become victims of cruel people; dogs are left chained outside or kept in waste-strewn pens with only a metal barrel to protect them from the elements.
Every animal deserves a chance to thrive in a responsible and permanent home. Sadly, breeders, pet stores, and people who fail to sterilize their companion animals have created a tremendous overpopulation problem that forces animal shelters to put millions of dogs and cats to death every year.
Those who subscribe to such anthropomorphic sentiments, as those reflected in this statement, also tend to deny that – to borrow from George Orwell’s Animal Farm – some animals are more equal than others. Thus, for example, a recent essay by two biologists rejects all of the following arguments for distinguishing among phyla and species in according animals rights:
• The evolutionary argument
• Variations in awareness of self
• Variations in memory and planning skills
• Animal intentionality
These writers conclude that, “given our present state of knowledge of the needs and capabilities of classes of animals, let alone individual species, we feel, as biologists, that we first and foremost ought to guard against, or at least be very cautious about, the temptations of creating a scale of lesser or greater value of one species over another.”
From such philosophical/ethical tenets the distance to radical tactics is short. Consider the cartoon below, taken from the Animal Liberation Front website.
[Photo “AnimalRightsCartoon1” here]
In close proximity with this cartoon on the site is the “ALF Credo”:
The Animal Liberation Front (ALF) carries out direct action against animal abuse in the form of rescuing animals and causing financial loss to animal exploiters, usually through the damage and destruction of property.
The ALF's short-term aim is to save as many animals as possible and directly disrupt the practice of animal abuse. Their long-term aim is to end all animal suffering by forcing animal abuse companies out of business.
It is a nonviolent campaign, activists taking all precautions not to harm any animal (human or otherwise).
Because ALF actions may be against the law, activists work anonymously, either in small groups or individually, and do not have any centralized organization or coordination.
The Animal Liberation Front consists of small autonomous groups of people all over the world who carry out direct action according to the ALF guidelines. Any group of people who are vegetarians or vegans and who carry out actions according to ALF guidelines have the right to regard themselves as part of the ALF.
The last paragraph of this credo springs from the broader radical tradition of “leaderless resistance.” “Leaderless resistance (or phantom cell structure) is a political resistance strategy in which small, independent groups (covert cells) challenge an established adversary such as a government. Leaderless resistance can encompass anything from non-violent disruption and civil disobedience to bombings, assassinations and other violent agitation. Leaderless cells lack bidirectional, vertical command links and operate without hierarchal command.”
The term “Leaderless Resistance” was popularized by the white supremacist Louis Beam, who published an essay on Leaderless Resistance in 1983 and again in 1992. Beam advocated Leaderless Resistance as a technique for fighting an incumbent government using self-organizing clandestine cells; he attributed the strategy to Col. Ulius Loius Amoss, allegedly a U.S. intelligence officer who was fearful that Communists were about to seize control of the U.S. in the early 1960s.
In his essay, Beam argued that traditional liberation armies employing pyramid-style organization are “extremely dangerous for the participants when it is utilized in a resistance movement against state tyranny”:
Especially is this so in technologically advanced societies where electronic surveillance can often penetrate the structure revealing its chain of command. Experience has revealed over and over again that anti-state, political organizations utilizing this method of command and control are easy prey for government infiltration, entrapment, and destruction of the personnel involved. This has been seen repeatedly in the United States where pro-government infiltrators or agent provocateurs weasel their way into patriotic groups and destroy them from within.
A more workable approach, argued Beam, is to convince like-minded individuals to form independent cells that will commit acts of sabotage or terrorism without coordination from above, and while minimizing communication with other cells:
The so-called “phantom cell” mode of organization, developed by Col. Amoss, or Leaderless Resistance, is based upon the cell organization but does not have any central control or direction. In the Leaderless Resistance concept, cells operate independently of each other, but they do not report to a central headquarters or top chief, as do the communist cells ...
[P]articipants in a program of Leaderless Resistance through phantom cell organization must know exactly what they are doing and how to do it. This is by no means as impractical as it appears, because it is certainly true that in any movement, all persons involved have the same general outlook, are acquainted with the same philosophy, and generally react to given situations in similar ways. As the entire purpose of Leaderless Resistance is to defeat the enemy by whatever means possible, all members of phantom cells will tend to react to objective events in the same way, usually through tactics of resistance and sabotage.
Despite exhorting the adoption of a resistance without a leader, it is likely that Beam was advocating Leaderless Resistance in an attempt to cement his position as a leader and thinker in the white separatist movement. Indeed, Leaderless Resistance is taken by some to be a technique of splitting an organization into an aboveground wing that primarily deals in propaganda, and an underground wing that actually carries out terrorist attacks.
The Oklahoma City Bombing (Chapter Two) is a textbook example of leaderless resistance. Stop Huntington Animal Cruelty (SHAC) sought to apply this principle to its activities in an effort to avoid criminal liability for the illegal acts of its adherents.
As we shall see, SHAC failed.
Federal Legislation to Protect Scientists Using Animals
Congress acted to protect researchers, who use animals in their experiments, as early as 1992.
Animal Enterprise Protection Act of 1992 (AEPA)
Public Law 102-346--Aug. 26, 1992
An Act To Protect Animal Enterprises.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the "Animal Enterprise Protection Act of 1992".
SEC. 2. ANIMAL ENTERPRISE TERRORISM.
(a) IN GENERAL.--Title 18, United States Code, is amended by inserting after section 42 the following:
"§ 43. Animal enterprise terrorism
"(1) travels in interstate or foreign commerce, or uses or causes to be used the mail or any facility in interstate or foreign commerce, for the purpose of causing physical disruption to the functioning of an animal enterprise; and
"(2) intentionally causes physical disruption to the functioning of an animal enterprise by intentionally stealing, damaging, or causing the loss of, any property (including animals or records) used by the animal enterprise, and thereby causes economic damage exceeding $10,000 to that enterprise, or conspires to do so; shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.
"(b) AGGRAVATED OFFENSE.--
"(1) SERIOUS BODILY INJURY.-- Whoever in the course of a violation of subsection (a) causes serious bodily injury to another individual shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 10 years, or both.
"(2) DEATH.--Whoever in the course of a violation of subsection (a) causes the death of an individual shall be fined under this title and imprisoned for life or for any term of years.
"(c) RESTITUTION.-- An order of restitution under section 3663 of this title with respect to a violation of this section may also include restitution--
"(1) for the reasonable cost of repeating any experimentation that was interrupted or invalidated as a result of the offense; and
"(2)) the loss of food production or farm income reasonably attributable to the offense.
"d) DEFINITIONS.-- As used in this section--
"(1) the term 'animal enterprise' means--
"(A) a commercial or academic enterprise that uses animals for food or fiber production, agriculture, research, or testing;
"(B) a zoo, aquarium, circus, rodeo, or lawful competitive animal event; or
"(C) any fair or similar event intended to advance agricultural arts and sciences;
"(2) the term 'physical disruption' does not include any lawful disruption that results from lawful public, governmental, or animal enterprise employee reaction to the disclosure of information about an animal enterprise;
"(3) the term 'economic damage' means the replacement costs of lost or damaged property or records, the costs of repeating an interrupted or invalidated experiment, or the loss of profits; and
"(4) the term 'serious bodily injury' has the meaning given that term in section 1365 of this title.
"9e) NON-PREEMPTION.--Nothing in this section preempts any State law.".
(b) CLERICAL AMENDMENT.--The item relating to section 43 in table of sections at the beginning of chapter 3 of title, United States Code, is amended to read as follows:
"43. Animal enterprise terrorism.".
SEC. 3. STUDY OF EFFECT OF TERRORISM ON CERTAIN ANIMAL ENTERPRISES.
(a) STUDY.-- The Attorney General and the Secretary of Agriculture shall jointly conduct a study on the extent and effects of domestic and international terrorism on enterprises using animals for food or fiber production, agriculture, research, or testing.
(b) SUBMISSION OF STUDY.-- Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act, the Attorney General and the Secretary of Agriculture shall submit a report that describes the results of the study conducted under subsection (a) together with any appropriate recommendations and legislation to the Congress.
Approved August 26, 1992.
What has been the effect of this federal statute? In the words of one scientist, who said that he himself had been victimized by animal-rights activists:
After accepting the responsibility to write this article, I immediately plowed into the subject expecting to find myself awash in information about the Act on the internet. Having been detoured there on many occasions, I was nervous about the task of ferreting the relevant from the extraneous, so I fired up my favorite search engine and browsed the web for information on two items, the "Animal Enterprise Protection Act" and the "Animal Welfare Act," fully anticipating both searches to yield the standard mega-response that typically goes with such unsophisticated search strategies. To my amazement, the phrase "Animal Enterprise Protection Act" yielded less than 40 hits. This simple test set the stage for a remarkable discovery. Unlike the Animal Welfare Act, a topic that yielded more than 1,600 hits on my global search of the internet, no one seemed to care very much about the Act that offered such hope for so many just seven years ago.
I immediately picked up the phone and began calling colleagues who I knew could help me understand how this potentially important piece of legislation, written to protect honest users of animals from animal rights terrorists, had suffered such undignified rejection at the hands of the federal prosecutors it was designed to energize. I was then stunned to learn that no one has been prosecuted under the provisions of the Act. No one. Not a single soul since the Animal Enterprise Protection Act became the law of the land.
While there may be many explanations for the dormancy of prosecutors in the use of this legal tool, we can all be certain that the failure to exercise the Act in the courts is unrelated to the level of animal rights activity during the period since its enactment. On the contrary, a strong case can be made that the overall level of animal enterprise terrorism in the US has dramatically increased since 1992. Numerous laboratory break-ins have occurred during this time frame, violence and vandalism at fur farms are on the rise, as are animal releases from research and animal husbandry facilities around the world. During this period, death and bomb threats have continued to flow from activists as freely as small talk at the local tavern, and animal rights leaders continue to egg on their foot soldiers with inflammatory talk of revolution.
This commentator criticized the act for carrying penalties that are too light to deter, as well as for failing to forbid or punish the many minor acts of humiliation, such as “pies in the face,” that fall short of anything a federal prosecutor would care to handle. He noted that two attempts to pursue private actions fell flat, dismissed because the courts held that the act was a purely criminal statute that accorded no such right to a civil suit. The writer concludes,
The question that I pose as central to this discussion and the one that I had to grapple with as I wondered about my decision to write this essay is, ‘Can the handful of philosophers, lawyers, and political activists among us who are promoting the idea that ethical distinctions cannot be made among members of the animal kingdom ever truly hope to win this extreme argument that they wage?’ I seriously doubt it. But if they were successful, those other human tragedies to which I refer would be compounded by the Alice in Wonderland atmosphere that would have consumed us.
Dr. Walsh’s article was published in 2000. With the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, it was not only Uncle Sam’s attitude toward Islamic terrorists that changed. However, it would be another five years until the Department of Justice would bring a group of cyber-terrorists from the radical animal-rights movement into a federal court to test whether their brand of leaderless resistance was protected by the First Amendment or, conversely, could be punished under this long-ignored federal law.
Stop Huntington Animal Cruelty (SHAC)
Huntingdon Life Sciences is a research corporation that performs testing for companies seeking to bring their products to market. The testing that Huntingdon provides to its clients is mandated by the laws and regulations of the United States and Europe to ensure the safety and efficacy of pharmaceuticals, agricultural products, veterinary products, and medical implants. Huntingdon has three laboratories, two in the United Kingdom and one in New Jersey. All Huntingdon laboratories use animals as test subjects. Approximately eighty-five percent of the animals used by Huntingdon are rats and mice, and the remaining fifteen percent is composed of other species, including fish, dogs, monkeys, and guinea pigs.
In the late 1990s, an individual posing as a laboratory technician videotaped the conditions inside a Huntingdon laboratory in the United Kingdom. The footage, which depicted animal abuse, became public when it was used in a television program, igniting protests against Huntingdon by a number of animal rights organizations. At about the same time, Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty was formed in the United Kingdom (SHAC-UK). The organization's mission is to close Huntingdon laboratories.
Immediately after SHAC-UK formed in November 1999, the organization published a newsletter that listed the names and addresses of the Huntingdon directors in the United Kingdom. Following the publication of the newsletter, animal rights protestors subjected the Huntingdon directors to an ongoing campaign of harassment, including vandalizing their homes and cars.
In February 2001, the Chief Operating Officer and Managing Director of Huntingdon, Brian Cass, was physically assaulted by three masked individuals in front of his home in England. Cass suffered cracked ribs, several lacerations, and a four-inch gash on his head that required nine stitches. David Blinkinsopp, who had been identified in video footage of SHAC-UK protests in front of Huntingdon, was convicted of the assault. The remaining two assailants were never identified.
SHAC-UK's campaign evolved to include companies and individuals who were associated with Huntingdon, such as suppliers and customers. In addition, SHAC-UK began to target Huntingdon's shareholders, demanding that the shareholders sell their stock in Huntingdon or face twenty-four hour demonstrations at their homes. Because the laws in the United Kingdom require companies to publish the names and addresses of their shareholders, Huntingdon relocated its financial base to the United States in an effort to protect its shareholders. SHAC then formed a branch in the United States to target the New Jersey-based branch of Huntingdon. The New Jersey branch of SHAC is one of the defendants in this action, along with six individuals… thus, “the SHAC 7.”
SHAC's primary organizing tool was its website, through which members coordinated future protests. It also published information about protests that had previously taken place. The website included a page dedicated to the concept of “direct action,” which all parties to the 2006 criminal prosecution and subsequent appeal conceded was a type of protest that included the illegal activities that ended in a grad jury indictment. With regard to its position on the use of direct action, SHAC stated the following on its website:
We operate within the boundaries of the law, but recognize and support those who choose to operate outside the confines of the legal system.
Big business has shown time and time again their lack of concern for ethics, instead focusing their attention on their profit. Often, simply targeting said business proves fruitless. However, as above ground activists have successfully targeted [Huntingdon]'s financial pillars of support, underground activists have too targeted [Huntingdon]'s pocketbooks. Unidentified individuals as well as underground cells of the Animal Liberation Front and the Earth Liberation Front have engaged in economic sabotage of [Huntingdon] and their associates.
They have also spent their time directly intervening and liberating the animals who are slated to die inside of [Huntingdon]. Animals have been liberated from breeders as well as the laboratories themselves.
SHAC does not organize any such actions or have any knowledge of who is doing them or when they will happen, but [SHAC] encourage[s] people to support direct action when it happens and those who may participate in it.
The website often posted the organization's “accomplishments,” which lauded both legal and illegal protest activities. The illegal activities included, among other things:
• a break-in at the Huntingdon lab in New Jersey, during which protestors broke windows and “liberated 14 beagles,” in addition to overturning a worker's car;
• detonating a “stink bomb” in the Seattle office of a Huntingdon investor;
• destroying Bank of New York ATMs, windows, and other property;
• sinking a yacht owned by the Bank of New York's president; launching repeated “paint attacks” in the New York offices of a Huntingdon investor;
• and “rescuing” dogs and ferrets from a Huntingdon breeder farm.
The website also posted “anonymous” bulletins of successful, but illegal, protest activities. In this capacity the site postured as a mere conduit of information, roughly analogous to a news medium’s website. One such anonymous bulletin stated:
Late last night, August 30th, we paid a visit to the home of Rodney Armstead, MD and took out two of his front windows ... gave him something to labor over this Labor Day weekend. Rodney serves as an officer and agent of service for “Medical Diagnostic Management, Inc.,” a scummy little company [associated with Huntingdon]. Any ties with [Huntingdon] or its executives will yield only headaches and a mess to clean up.
The name and home address of Dr. Armstead followed. However, shedding the mask of neutrality, this bulletin was prefaced by SHAC's statement that it was “excited to see such an upswing in action against Huntingdon and their cohorts. From the unsolicited direct action to the phone calls, e-mails, faxes and protests. Keep up the good work!” Similar bulletins included photographs of extensive vandalism of the homes of people indirectly affiliated with Huntingdon, such as employees of Bank of New York. These bulletins almost always contained a disclaimer that “all illegal activity is done by anonymous activists who have no relation with SHAC.”
The SHAC website also posted a piece called the “Top 20 Terror Tactics” that was originally published by an organization that denounced the use of animals in medical research and testing. With its standard disclaimer about SHAC not organizing illegal activity, SHAC re-published the list on its website. Some of the tactics included abusive graffiti, posters, and stickers on houses, cars, and in neighborhoods of targeted individuals; invading offices, damaging property, and stealing documents; chaining gates shut or blocking gates with old cars to trap staff on site; physical assaults against the targeted individuals, as well as their partners, including spraying cleaning fluid into their eyes; smashing windows in houses when the occupants are home; flooding houses with a hose attached to an outside tap inserted through a letterbox or window while the home is unoccupied; vandalizing personal vehicles by gluing locks, slashing tires, and pouring paint on the exterior; smashing personal vehicles with a sledgehammer while the targeted individual is inside; firebombing cars, sheds and garages; bomb threats to instigate evacuations; threatening telephone calls and letters, including threats to injure or kill the targeted individual, as well their children and partners; abusive telephone calls and letters; ordering goods and services in the targeted individual's name and address; and arranging for an undertaker to collect the target's body. Following the list, the SHAC website stated, “Now don't go getting any funny ideas!”
The website had a series of links dedicated to educating activists on how to evade investigators. These links were entitled, “Ears and Eyes Everywhere,” “Dealing with Interrogation,” “When an Agent Knocks,” and “Illegal Activity.” In these sections of the website, SHAC advised its protesters to “never say anything over the phone, email or in your house or car that you wouldn't want the authorities to hear. If you need to discuss sensitive information, do it in a remote location. Burn anything with sensitive information on it.... Visit www. pgp. com and download an email encryption program to protect your email conversations.” “PGP” stands for “pretty good privacy,” and that encryption device was generally effective at protecting e-mail conversations from outside monitoring. PGP is also used to erase data from hard drives. The software was found on eight of the nine computers at SHAC's de facto headquarters, which three of the defendants also called home.
Through its website, SHAC also invited its supporters to engage in electronic civil disobedience against Huntingdon and various companies associated with Huntingdon. Electronic civil disobedience involved a coordinated campaign by a large number of individuals to inundate websites, e-mail servers, and the telephone service of a targeted company. Electronic civil disobedience also included the use of “black faxes,” repeatedly faxing a black piece of paper to the same fax machine to exhaust the toner or ink supply. SHAC sponsored electronic civil disobedience campaigns on the first Monday of every month. It reminded its supporters that electronic civil disobedience was illegal, and therefore supporters should only participate if they “are like Martin Luther King and are ready to suffer the consequences ... or if [the supporters] want to live to fight another day, do the electronic civil disobedience from a public computer that cannot be traced....”
Another way that SHAC encouraged the use of electronic civil disobedience was through its “Investor of the Week” feature, which highlighted a company associated with Huntingdon by publishing the company's contact information. SHAC told its supporters to “Take advantage of pay phones! Especially with toll free numbers! [sic]”
The website also provided a link to a black fax for their personal use. Alternatively, the website noted that supporters could just use black paper to “give your target's fax machine a run for its money ... or ink!” The website explained how a supporter could block his phone number so that it would not appear on the fax or telephone line's caller identification. In addition, the website explained how to prevent the targeted company's servers from blocking e-mails, and provided a link to encryption devices that ostensibly masked the sender.
One specific example of SHAC's coordination of electronic civil disobedience, cited by the U.S. Court of Appeals in its 2009 review of the case, is an e-mail from “shacuse@ envirolink. org” that was disseminated on October 26, 2003. The subject line of the e-mail was “Electronic Civil Disobedience,” and it advised SHAC supporters that on the following day, SHAC's website would provide a link to the SHAC-Moscow website where “electronic civil disobedience will be taking place.” The e-mail stated that “participation is mandatory,” and that by taking part in the coordinated electronic civil disobedience, supporters would “help ... halt the ever important web medium for particular companies sponsoring Huntingdon.” Participation would also “send[ ] a loud message that no silly injunctions or crooked politicians can derail the campaign to close Huntingdon.”
Indictments and Trial
An indictment was filed against the SHAC7 in the U.S. District Court of New Jersey in its Trenton courthouse on May 20, 2004. On September 16, 2004, the government filed a superseding indictment. On September 16, 2004, SHAC, Kjonaas, Gazzola, Conroy, Harper, Stepanian, and Fullmer were charged in a superceding indictment. Count One of the indictment charged that all six individual defendants conspired to violate the Animal Enterprise Protection Act, 18 U.S.C. § 43. Count Two charged SHAC, Kjonaas, Gazzola, and Conroy with conspiring to commit interstate stalking in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2261A(2) and 18 U.S.C. § 371. Counts Three, Four, and Five charged SHAC, Kjonaas, Gazzola, and Conroy with substantive interstate stalking of Sally Dillenback, Marion Harlos, and Robert Harper, respectively. Count Six charged SHAC, Kjonaas, Gazzola, Conroy, and Harper of conspiring to use a telecommunications device to abuse, threaten, and harass in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371 and 47 U.S.C. § 223(a)(1)(c).
[Photos “Jake1”, “Darius1”, “Lauren1”, “Josh1”, “Kevin1”, and “Andy1” here]
The three-week trial began in early February 2006. The government presented a parade of corporate witnesses who described in graphic detail the patterns of harassment to which they had been subjected. SHAC didn’t confine its campaign to Huntingdon’s New Jersey employees. It targeted the management of service providers, shareholders of corporations holding a block of Huntingdon’s stock, and anyone else who seemed to be supporting their bete noir.
SHAC’s website said of Andrew Baker, chairman of Life Sciences Research, a Huntingdon holding company,
If there is one man on whom you could place the most blame for [Huntingdon's] crimes since 1998, it is him. For the last four years since he watched little dogs getting punched in the face, Baker has put his all into keeping Huntingdon afloat. Not an easy job. As a trained chartered accountant Baker is skilled at pulling the financial strings of companies he is in charge of.... He currently works out of a NJ office called Focused HealthCare Partners LLC-which acts as a general partner for healthcare startups ... or failing labs like Huntingdon.... Baker has been essentially reduced to scrambling full time to save Huntingdon. He has nothing else going for him. If [Focused HealthCare Partners] is the vehicle he uses to support Huntingdon, [Focused HealthCare Partners] is the company we must dismantle.
Placed into evidence was this posting from the SHAC website:
Despite driving winds, rain, and cold weather 75+ activists gathered at [address redacted by the court] to protest the home of Andrew Baker CEO to Huntingdon. Andrew Baker is at the top of our “SH&)%;!” list for his lead in trying to save Huntingdon from certain closure. This was the largest and angriest of the 3 days of protest.... Andrew you and all your senior management and “science” staff have no idea what we have in store for you! Murderers, lairs [sic], thieves, and perverts deserve to be treated as such. In the near future when we see you in the gutter stripped of all your riches and fabricated respect, the only handout you will get is our spit!
Baker himself testified that protestors also targeted his daughter's New York apartment. He stated that vandals “plastered” the front door of her apartment “with posters and pictures ... depicting [his] death.”
The website added, “So, apparently Andy is bi-coastal (as if you couldn't tell). In addition to the 2 million dollar penthouse apartment he owns on NYC's upper Westside ( [address redacted by the court] ), Baker also has a sunny California home in Los Angeles. This choice location on Sunset Plaza Drive should be the number one attraction on any animal rights activist's Hollywood star-map.”
Baker went on to testify that the house in Los Angeles had been attacked three times. He stated that during the first attack, the protestors kicked in the gate at the street entrance, broke the front door, and broke two windows. During the second attack, the protestors broke a window in the garage and threw a smoke bomb inside. During the third attack, the protestors threw rocks and tile over the wall, hitting the top and sides of the house, including windows and doors.
Dillenback was a senior executive in the Dallas offices of Marsh, Inc., the huge, international insurance broker. She testified that in early 2002, she learned that SHAC had targeted Marsh. In March 2002, Dillenback checked the SHAC website after learning that personal information about employees had been posted there. When she viewed the website, she saw that her personal information had been posted, including the names of her husband and her children, as well as their home address, the name of her children's school, the make, model and license plate of their personal vehicle, the name of their church, and the name of the country club where they were members.
Shortly after the information appeared on the SHAC website, Dillenback testified that her family began receiving phone calls, often “angry and belligerent,” day and night, as well as a “tremendous” volume of mail. Dillenback testified that one morning, her family awoke to find that pictures of mutilated animals had been glued to the sidewalk in front of her home, as well as the exterior side wall of her home. At the same time, the following was posted on the SHAC website:
received anonymously on March 10:
Last night the homes of Dallas Marsh employees Michael Rogan and Sally Dillenback were visited by activists. Mr. Rogan's garage was plastered with stickers of mutilated puppies such as those his company insures. Mrs. Dillenback's side wall was covered in stickers, as was her mailbox.
Let the stickers serve to remind Marsh employees and their neighbors that their homes are paid for in blood, the blood of innocent animals that are killed in labs like Huntingdon. Every day that Marsh insures Huntingdon, they insure death.
Dillenback testified that after this incident, she was “sickened and terrified,” and that her children were scared, especially the youngest child who was seven years old at the time. Marsh provided 24-hour security at her home following this incident.
Dillenback also received an e-mail that she perceived as a direct threat to her youngest son. She testified that the e-mail asked how she would feel “if they cut open my son ... and filled him with poison the way that [Huntingdon] was doing to animals....” (J.A. at 3004.) She testified that this e-mail “devastated” her. She further testified that during this period of time, her husband purchased a semi-automatic weapon and that her seven-year-old son twice brandished a kitchen knife while inside the house in an effort to protect himself and the family.
After Dillenback initially testified regarding her son's use of the knife at her deposition, the following posting, attributed to “TX activists,” appeared on the SHAC website:
On Saturday, December 14, activists paid a holiday visit to Sally Dillenback, head of Dallas Marsh office. She was surprised, finding her working on her Christmas tree with her family.... Contrary to Sally's sworn testimony at her deposition, her son did not run for a kitchen knife and to hide when he saw the activists. Instead, he and his sister seemed quite interested in the signs and appeared to be trying to read them from across the street.
Merry Christmas, Sally. Take a moment to think of all the dogs, like the one who shares your home, who will be spending Christmas in their own congealed blood and feces at Huntingdon, thanks in part [to] your company's insurance.
Dillenback testified that the protests stopped in early 2003, when Marsh stopped providing insurance brokerage services to Huntingdon. Notably, the SHAC website quoted a Financial Times article explaining that Marsh had dropped Huntingdon as a client on December 18, 2002.
Harlos Headed up the San Antonio offices of Seabury and Smith, a Marsh subsidiary. Like Dillenback, she learned from corporate headquarters that she had been targeted for protests on the SHAC website, which listed her home address and phone number. Within a week, there was a protest at Harlos's office. Protestors “bashed” in the door and threw pamphlets across the office while screaming, “You have the blood of death on your fingers,” “We know where you live,” “You cannot sleep at night,” and “We will find you.” Seabury and Smith subsequently hired security guards for the San Antonio office.
Harlos testified that the protestors returned to the office a few weeks later. Although the security guard stopped most of the protestors, one made it inside, throwing pamphlets and screaming, “Puppy killer,” and “We know where you live.” This protest was memorialized on the SHAC website as follows:
Today around 11:30 am, 5 activists visited the San Antonio Marsh office ... and gained access to the lobby. They rang the bell and a security guard answered, one activist made an attempt to get in past the guard and got half way in. It was enough to throw two or three dozen anti Huntingdon flyers into the air scattering and landing into the cubicles. All of the activist[s] screamed “puppy killer” and “we won't stop [until] you drop Huntingdon”. As they left they banged on the windows and promised “next time we will be at your HOME”.
Harlos testified that after this protest, she began receiving phone calls at her home late at night. She stated that sometimes the caller asked, “Are you scared? Do you think the puppies should be scared?” Protestors, wearing bandanas and masks to conceal their faces, often sat in a car outside her residence between 4:00 A.M. and 6:00 A.M., watching her house. Then, protests began. One morning, nine activists were arrested outside Harlos's home and were charged with third degree stalking. The SHAC website announced the arrests and urged its protestors to call the local police department in Texas to demand the protestors' release.
Harlos also testified that she was “petrified” and frightened for her children, who were no longer permitted to play outside. She also testified that her fear stemmed, in part, from her knowledge of what had happened to others who had been targeted by SHAC, including physical attacks. The activists continued to trespass on her property, despite an injunction that was intended to limit the permissible bounds of the protests. Harlos testified that the protests had a profound effect on her life, and the life of her family, ultimately forcing her to move to a new home. As with Dillenback, Harlos testified that the protests ceased when Marsh ended its business relationship with Huntingdon.
Harper was a property broker in Marsh’s Boston Office. SHAC’s website posted the following missive to Mr. Harper:
Happy Father[']s [D]ay Rob Harper. I hope you liked our gift[.]
In the wee hours of the mourning (sic) on June 15, Marsh Boston Employee, Rob Harper [home address redacted] received an early Father[']s Day gift that he will never forget. A few gallons of red paint were thrown all over Harper's front steps and door. This left the front of his house caked in a huge pool of red paint.
Rob Harper is responsible for 500 animals dying within [Huntingdon] today and as long as Marsh has ties with [Huntingdon], Marsh will be a target. This also goes for any other company or business that has times [sic] with Huntingdon-
they will pay for it. (sic)
There will be no rest for these murders. [Huntingdon] will be closed.
This action is dedicated to the 500 animals that were murdered inside of [Huntingdon] today.
The Animal Liberation Front
Harper testified that after these protests began, his workday was “consumed” with checking the SHAC website. He testified that he became aware of other protests and other targets, including the physical assault of Brian Cass in the United Kingdom, as well as protestors destroying vehicles. He stated that this made him feel “vulnerable” and “concerned for his family,” as well as angry and helpless because his life was so profoundly disrupted.
On August 9, 2002, Harper added, he was at work when a protest occurred at his home. His wife called him, crying and frantic. He arrived home to find his wife and two-year-old son upset. The protestors outside were screaming “puppy killer” and threatening to burn the house down. A video played at trial showed that Lauren Gazzola, a Defendant in this case, was present at this demonstration, shouting into a bullhorn,
Where were the police when a [Huntingdon] worker's car got flipped over in his driveway? Where were the police when a Marsh executive had all his windows smashed in and his house covered in red paint in Chicago? And where were the police when your house was covered in red paint a few weeks ago? They can't protect you. Your injunctions can't stop us. We'll always find a way around whatever they throw at us.
Harper testified that this was “one of the worst days of [his] life.” He feared that someone would “throw a Molotov cocktail” into the house, or that someone would physically assault him or his family. He contemplated moving and quitting his job, but yet again the protests stopped when Marsh ended its business relationship with Huntingdon.
Conviction and Appeal
The jury convicted all the defendants on all counts. On September 12, 2006, the District Judge sentenced SHAC to five years' probation; Kjonaas to 72 months' imprisonment; Gazzola to 52 months' imprisonment; Conroy to 48 months' imprisonment; Harper to 36 months' imprisonment; Stepanian to 36 months' imprisonment; and Fullmer to 12 months' imprisonment. Defendants filed a timely notice of appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, which calls Philadelphia home, challenging both their underlying convictions and sentences.
In 2009, the Third Circuit affirmed the convictions and the sentences, holding, (1) the AEPA was not unconstitutionally vague; (2) conduct defendants were convicted of was not protected by the First Amendment; (3) government provided sufficient evidence to prove defendants conspired to violate the AEPA; and (4) government produced sufficient evidence to convict defendants of interstate stalking offenses.
Since the successful prosecution of the SHAC 7, radical animal activists have not eased their activities. Even a cursory survey of stories published in The Chronicle of Higher Education over the past few years drives home the severity of the threat posed to higher education by animal rights activists, who may be the most serious domestic-terrorism threat posed to campuses in the United States.
• Animal-Rights Groups Fight Colleges Over Access to Research Records
By JEFFREY BRAINARD
The Ohio Supreme Court has ruled that Ohio State University is not required to release videotapes of animal research sought under the state's open-records law by an advocacy group opposed to such studies.
• UCLA Professor Halts Monkey Research
By SAMANTHA HENIG
Responding to pressure from animal-rights activists, Dario Ringach, an associate professor of neurobiology at the University of California at Los Angeles, has abandoned his research on monkeys. In an e-mail message with the subject line "You win," Mr. Ringach wrote to a news office for animal-rights groups that he would no longer conduct animal research, and asked that the groups leave him and his family alone.
• UCLA's Acting Chancellor Takes Steps Against Animal-Rights Extremists
By PAUL FAIN
The acting chancellor of the University of California at Los Angeles has announced plans to push back at animal-rights groups, which he says have recently stepped up harassment of faculty members.
In a letter to the campus, Norman Abrams, who became acting chancellor on July 1, said "illegal and often violent" acts by activists, who are protesting research conducted by university scientists on nonhuman primates and other animals, had “culminated this summer in an incident involving a powerful incendiary device placed on the doorstep of a neighbor of one of our faculty members.”
• The Growing Field of Animal Law is Attracting Activists and Pragmatists Alike
By PETER MONAGHAN
In the Pacific Northwest, many young people say they want to liberate animals from human subjection, so much so that defending activists who break into research laboratories to set loose animals is now a cottage industry.
Here at Lewis & Clark College School of Law, students of "animal law" are learning another way to change social practices that involve animals. They are just as passionate as animal-liberation advocates. And they may become more influential.
Animal law is the study of all laws relating to animals, whether they enable harsh treatment of animals or encourage kind treatment. “It’s a lot like where environmental law was in the 1970s,” says Laura Ireland Moore, founder and executive director of the National Center for Animal Law, based at Lewis & Clark.
• Animal Researchers' Homes Are Attacked
As protests intensify, colleges take steps to protect scientists
By RICHARD MONASTERSKY
When six masked people pounded on the front door of a scientist's home in Santa Cruz, Calif., and allegedly struck her husband late last month, the echo was heard by biomedical researchers and universities around the country. The intrusion represents an apparent escalation in the level of violence used by animal-rights protesters, who until now have not physically attacked academic scientists.
“We're facing a national movement,” says George Blumenthal, chancellor of the University of California at Santa Cruz, where the biologist works. Other universities, he says, are going to have to face “individuals who are prepared to use potentially violent tactics that have a terrorizing effect on researchers.”
• New Front in Battle Over Studies of Animals
Activists take aim at non-research colleges
By JEFFREY BRAINARD
Far from the front lines of the nasty fight over laboratory-animal experiments at large research universities, activists are strategically drawing some teaching-oriented institutions into the same battle.
Amherst College, Fairfield University, Francis Marion University, and 10 other institutions, none of which are known for conducting animal experiments, recently signed a pledge not to subject any research animals to "severe" unrelieved pain or distress. The pledge was written by the Humane Society of the United States, which has sent it to a total of 301 presidents at similar institutions.
• New Attacks on Animal Researchers Provoke Anger and Worry
By LILA GUTERMAN
After firebomb attacks this month set the home of a neuroscientist at the University of California at Santa Cruz aflame and destroyed a car parked in the driveway of another university researcher's home, researchers and academic leaders were shaken. The attacks are believed to be the work of animal-rights protesters.
Little wonder then that the New Jersey Department of Homeland Security and Preparedness issued the following alert in mid-2008:
Escalation of West Coast Animal Rights Extremist Activity
and Implications for New Jersey
• There has been an increase in the intensity and overall number of violent
criminal acts perpetrated by animal rights extremist groups against university
researchers on the West Coast.
• Animal rights extremist groups represent the most active, single-issue domestic
terrorism group in New Jersey.
• Given the apparent connectivity between animal rights groups and the extent of
their travel between coasts, the use of violence and intimidation against
university researchers on the West Coast is likely to spread to New Jersey.
Over the past ten months, there has been an increase in the number of violent criminal incidents perpetrated by animal rights extremists against university researchers on the West Coast. The majority of the violent incidents have occurred in California, with a limited number also occurring in Oregon. In roughly eighty percent of the incidents the targets were university researchers involved in primate research.
Historically, animal rights extremist groups in the United States have carried out direct actions against university laboratories and not individual researchers. Such actions have included criminal trespassing, vandalism and the release of laboratory animals. However, since approximately June 2007, extremists have begun escalating the violence and using more intimidating tactics against individual university researchers, including: death threats, bomb threats, the mailing of suspicious packages and letters stuffed with razor blades, attempted home invasions, attempted arson, intentional flooding of a home, and the placement of incendiary devices under cars and at residences. These incidents have been carried out by ALF (Animal Liberation Front), Animal Liberation Brigade, UCLA Primate Freedom Project, SHAC (Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty) and their affiliates. This shift in tactics coincides with an overall increase in threats and acts of violence by the animal rights extremist movement against a wide variety of targets, including biotech, life-sciences, pharmaceutical and biomedical research companies.
While animal rights extremist groups have not publicly announced a change in their targeting tactics, there are several reasons for such a shift. Targeting individual researchers at their residences results in greater fear and intimidation, as extremists “personalize” their attacks by directly threatening the individuals and their families. In addition, by targeting individuals at their homes extremists avoid having to deal with security impediments that might exist at the university laboratory or employment facility. This change in modus operandi enables the extremists to carry out their attacks with fewer resources. Animal rights groups are also increasingly using the Internet to access public records and identify university researchers, and then posting their names and addresses online.
This shift in targeting tactics coincides with a growing sentiment among members of the animal rights movement that researchers, businesses, and the general public have been sufficiently warned and violence can now be rationalized in order to permanently end animal abuse. Violent rhetoric is expressed in extremist communiqués, literature and threat letters. For example, in a June 2007 communiqué, the Animal Liberation Brigade alluded to the need for more violent tactics, asserting that “demonstrators need to realize that just demonstrating won’t stop this kind of evil.” Similarly, Jerry Vlasak, co-founder of the North American Animal Liberation Press Office and leader in the US animal rights movement has stated on several occasions that the notion of murdering medical researchers in order to save laboratory animals is a “morally justifiable solution.” While these statements may simply be aimed at motivating followers, it might also portend a shift toward greater violence.
Outlook for New Jersey
Animal rights extremist groups represent the most active, single-issue, domestic terrorism group in New Jersey where they have historically focused their campaigns on biotech, life-sciences and pharmaceutical companies. However, since 2003, these groups have branched out, conducting direct actions against “tertiary targets,” including financial and technology-based companies and attacking the employees of targeted companies at their residences. Looking forward, the increased use of violence and intimidation perpetrated against university researchers on the West Coast is likely to be emulated on the East Coast, especially given the apparent connectivity between animal rights groups throughout the country and the extent of their travel between coasts. This type of connectivity has been exemplified in New Jersey through “Days of Action,”
direct action campaigns organized by animal rights groups which are attended by supporters from across the US. These events reveal a willingness to travel long distances to protest and target businesses, laboratories and individuals in New Jersey. While there is currently no intelligence indicating that animal rights extremists are planning to target university researchers or other New Jersey facilities involved in animal research, the nature of this threat warrants ongoing situational awareness within university, private sector and law enforcement
For additional information and GIS mapping of New Jersey companies targeted by animal rights groups, please refer to the December 2007 OHSP Assessment: Animal Rights Extremism: Current Trends and Implications for New Jersey, available on the OHSP secure Web site, through http://www.state.nj.us/.
Suspicious activity involving animal rights extremist groups should be treated as having a possible nexus to terrorism, and should be reported immediately to the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness (OHSP) at 866-4-SAFE-NJ and to local law enforcement authorities.
Author of Report:
Caroline Vassallo, Intelligence Analyst: Caroline.Vassallo@ohsp.state.nj.us (609-588-0996)
For further information on this document or other OHSP analytical products,
please contact the OHSP Intelligence Bureau at
OHSPINTEL@ohsp.state.nj.us or 609-588-4000, ext. 7
As this article was being prepared in September 2010, the Jersey Journal reported, “A gathering of citizens and activists in front of the Liberty Humane Society animal shelter last night to protest its use of euthanasia and later held a candlelight vigil for the animals that have been put down.” The story eerily continued, “In other developments, a week ago, board members of the animal shelter say they started receiving alarming phone calls and spotting threats posted on Facebook, the social networking site.” It would seem that the more things change the more they remain the same, where animal-rights terrorism is concerned.