[Ppnews] Background - SHAC 7 and the Future of Democracy

Political Prisoner News PPnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri Mar 3 08:48:06 EST 2006



Wednesday, August 18, 2004




Trial By Fire: The SHAC 7 and the Future of Democracy

"The FBI has made the prevention and 
investigation of animal rights extremists and 
eco-terrorism
 a domestic terrorism investigative 
priority.” -John E. Lewis, deputy assistant FBI 
director in counterterrorism, speaking to the 
U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, May 2004

“Ah, but in such an ugly time, the true protest 
is beauty.” -Phil Ochs, songwriter

By Steven Best and Richard Kahn

Since 1999, 
<http://www.shacamerica.net/index.htm>Stop 
Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC) activists in the 
U.K. and U.S. have waged an aggressive direct 
action campaign against Huntingdon Life Sciences 
(HLS), an insidious animal testing company 
notorious for extreme animal abuse (torturing and 
killing 500 animals a day) and manipulated 
research data. SHAC roared onto the historical 
stage by combining a shrewd knowledge of the law, 
no-nonsense direct action tactics, and a singular 
focus on one corporation that represents the 
evils of the entire vivisection industry. From 
email and phone blockades to raucous home 
demonstrations, SHACtivists have attacked HLS and 
pressured over 100 companies to abandon financial 
ties to the vivisection firm. By 2001, the SHAC 
movement drove down HLS stock values from 
$15/share to less than $1/share. Smelling profit 
emanating from animal bloodshed, investment 
banking firm Stephens Inc. stepped in to save HLS 
from bankruptcy. But, as happened to so many 
companies before them, eventually Stephens too 
could not withstand the intense political heat 
and so fled the SHAC kitchen. Today, as HLS 
struggles for solvency, SHAC predicts its immanent demise.

Growing increasingly powerful through 
high-pressure tactics that take the fight to HLS 
and their supporters rather than to corrupt 
legislatures, the SHAC movement poses a clear and 
present danger to animal exploitation industries 
and the state that serves them. Staggered and 
driven into the ropes, it was certain that SHAC’s 
opponents would fight back. Throwing futile jabs 
here and there, the vivisection industry and the 
state recently teamed up to mount a major 
counterattack. On May 26, 2004, a police dragnet 
rounded up seven prominent animal rights 
activists in New Jersey, New York, Washington and 
California. Hordes of agents from the FBI, Secret 
Service, and other law agencies stormed into the 
activists’ homes at the crack of dawn, guns drawn 
and helicopters hovering above. Handcuffing those 
struggling for a better world, the state claimed 
another victory in its phony “war against terror.”

The “<http://www.shac7.com/>SHAC 7” are Kevin 
Jonas, Lauren Gazzola, Jacob Conroy, Darius 
Fullmer, John McGee, Andrew Stepanian, and Joshua 
Harper. The government has issued a five-count 
federal indictment that charges each activist, 
and SHAC USA, with violations of the 1992 Animal 
Enterprise Protection Act, the first law that 
explicitly seeks to protect animal exploitation 
industries from animal rights protests. 
Additionally, SHAC USA, Jonas, Gazzola, and 
Conroy were charged with conspiracy to stalk 
HLS-related employees across state lines, along 
with three counts of interstate stalking with the 
intent to induce fear of death or serious injury 
in their “victims.” All of the charges bring a 
maximum $250,000 fine each. The main charge of 
animal enterprise terrorism carries a maximum of 
three years in prison, while each of the charges 
of stalking or conspiracy to stalk brings a five-year maximum sentence.

Clearly, the state is now playing hard ball with 
the animal rights cause. The arrests came just 
over a year after the FBI’s domestic terrorism 
squad raided SHAC headquarters in New Jersey and 
on the heels of constant surveillance and 
harassment. Not coincidentally, the round-up also 
followed shortly after numerous executives from 
animal exploitation industries appeared before a 
congressional committee to stigmatize the style 
of activism practiced by SHAC (and People for the 
Ethical Treatment of Animals) as a form of 
terrorism and to plead for new legal measures to 
counter the increasingly effective direct action 
tactics of such groups. Following the arrests, 
Christopher Christie, United States attorney for 
New Jersey, described the government’s intention 
behind the arrests in dramatically ironic and 
perverse terms: “Our goal is to remove 
uncivilized people from civilized society.”

The federal indictment against the SHAC 7 is a 
potential watershed in the history of the animal 
rights movement, for it represents the boldest 
governmental attack on activists to date, and it 
likely augurs a new wave of political repression 
in response to the growing effectiveness of 
militant animal liberation politics. Regardless 
of whether it should win or lose in this 
proceeding, the corporate-state machine seeks to 
cast an ominous shadow over activists who dare to 
exercise their First Amendment rights. Tellingly, 
corporate exploiters of animals want to respond 
to criticism and protest with demands for 
surveillance, harassment, intimidation, arrests, 
and appearances before grand juries.

This bold assault on the SHAC 7, which seeks to 
kneecap their ability to directly challenge 
oppressive forces in society, demands a serious 
response from the entire spectrum of progressive 
activists­those struggling for human rights, 
animal rights, and the environment. “USA v. SHAC” 
should be a serious wake-up call to everyone: 
this is post-Constitutional America.

All the Lies Fit to Print

"In our time political speech and writing are 
largely the defense of the indefensible.” -George Orwell

“I abhor vivisection with my whole soul. All the 
scientific discoveries stained with innocent 
blood I count as of no consequence.” -Mahatma Gandhi

Unable to stand without massive corporate aid and 
state support, HLS is appropriately grateful to 
the government for arresting the SHAC 7. In their 
media statement, HLS intoned: “The Company is 
heartened...to see justice done. So many people 
have been victimized by this lawless [SHAC] 
campaign. These indictments are in keeping with 
this nation’s long tradition of standing up to 
bullies and demonstrate the United States’ 
continued determination to insure the safety of 
its people.” Similarly, U.S. Attorney Christie 
remarked for the state: “This is not activism. 
This is a group of lawless thugs attacking 
innocent men, women and children
 Their business, 
quite frankly, is thuggery and intimidation.”

The statements made by HLS and Christie are 
grotesque distortions of SHAC, the U.S. political 
system, and the vivisection industry as a whole. 
HLS is a victimizer, not a victim, and it 
perpetuates its crimes against the most 
unfortunate and defenseless victims of all­the 
animals enslaved in the dungeons and torture 
chambers of sham “science” and commercial 
interests. When the U.S. government actually 
protects and underwrites animal exploiters and 
demonizes animal activists like SHAC as 
“terrorists,” it places an added responsibility 
on all activists to speak truth to power: the 
true criminals are corporations that needlessly 
torment animals unto their deaths and a 
government that defends those corporate interests 
while systematically violating its own 
Constitution and the right to free speech.

Far from insuring “the safety of its people,” the 
State’s main mission is to protect the property 
and profits of the Corporate Masters that it 
serves, whatever the political, social, or 
ecological costs, and no matter what the toll to 
the institutions of “democracy” (such as they 
are) or the dissidents exercising their rights. 
U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, abuse of 
prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison and Guantanamo 
Bay, and religious extremists like Bush and 
Ashcroft who want to plunge their own nation into 
the same authoritarian abyss as their avowed 
enemy Al Qaeda are evidence of the bankruptcy of 
the “civilized society” upheld by Christie and the entire ruling elite.

Although corporations, politicians, and media 
pundits routinely denounce SHAC as 
anti-scientific, as an opponent to medical 
progress, and as an all-around misanthropic enemy 
of the people, these accusations stick better to 
such sludge-slingers themselves. In fact, SHAC 
strongly favors medical research so long as it 
has a sound ethical and scientific basis, but it 
argues that animal-based research does not meet 
either qualification. In their revisionist 
histories, vivisectors attribute key 
breakthroughs in medical progress to the use of 
animal experimentation, whereas credit really 
belongs to improved sanitation, epidemiology 
(human-based studies), and other factors that 
have nothing to do with maiming and poisoning animals.

Therefore, far from accelerating medical 
progress, there are good grounds to believe that 
biomedical research impedes it and thus, 
ironically, groups like SHAC, and not the 
vivisection establishment, are the catalysts for 
genuine scientific advancement. Indeed, a 
November 17, 2003, Frontline documentary on PBS 
highlighted the well-known fact that scores of 
drugs tested “safely” on animals cause serious 
injury and death to human patients. The show 
exposed the politics behind pharmaceutical 
“science,” revealing how the FDA dances to the 
tune of the drug industry­the country’s top 
grossing business sector. As Frontline 
discovered, the FDA’s process to approve drugs as 
“safe” for humans most questionably relies on the 
research of the drug companies themselves. Worse 
still, FDA drug-reviewing whistleblowers report 
that the agency often ignores, or covers up, 
revealed contraindications and deadly side 
effects in order to give favorable reviews to 
drugs with large profit potential.

As groups like SHAC peer into research cages, 
what consistently leaps out are not just 
terrified animals, but the suppressed truths of 
widespread governmental corruption, the 
politicization of research and medicine, and the 
merciless production of animal suffering and 
death as the foundation for medical profits. In a 
situation where, according to genetic researcher 
Dr. Allen Roses, “The vast majority of drugs only 
work in 30 or 50 percent of the people,” and 
prescription drugs are one of the leading causes 
of death, the larger agenda and significance of 
SHAC becomes clear. While those who have the most 
to suffer financially from the liberation of 
animals caricature uncompromising animal 
activists as lawless agents of chaos, history 
will be better served when SHAC, and other 
outspoken critics of the vivisection and animal 
cruelty industries, are portrayed as leading the 
fight for animal and human rights.

The Kangaroo Courts of Capitalism

"The political motivation of these indictments 
should be clear...rich and powerful people are 
now using their connected and influential 
friends...in order to retaliate against us, and 
worse, to send a message to anyone else who would 
dare stand in the way of speciesism.” -Josh Harper, SHAC 7 defendant

“This trial is a travesty. It’s a travesty of a 
mockery of a sham of a mockery of a travesty of 
two mockeries of a sham.” -Woody Allen, “Bananas”

While the Western legal system cloaks itself in 
the trappings of rationality and enlightened 
justice, the simple truth is that law, of its own 
will and dynamic, does not generally evolve in 
order to better accord with ethics. Rather, the 
legislative system constantly changes within a 
contested terrain, where a wide range of 
interested parties struggle for power and 
position. The battle over policy is hardly evenly 
matched or wholly fair, for as dictated by the 
Golden Rule of capitalism, those with the gold 
make the rules. Increasingly, the powerful 
factions who drive the direction of legislation 
in this country are the secretive, 
well-protected, massive corporate entities that 
Noam Chomsky characterizes as “private 
tyrannies.” However, activist organizations such 
as SHAC demonstrate that, even in a battle with 
Goliath, David can win if armed with enough smarts and determination.

The SHAC movement has been enormously effective 
in large part due to its strategy of 
demonstrating against “tertiary targets,” those 
companies and people that support HLS and which 
help it to operate, but which are not technically 
themselves “animal enterprises.” As present law 
only allows for the prosecution of direct 
activists when they physically disrupt the 
process of exploiting animals, the 
corporate-state complex has felt the need to 
respond by proposing amendment of old legislation 
and enactment of new laws. It is no coincidence, 
then, that little more than a week before the May 
26 raid on the SHAC 7, a phalanx of high-level 
vivisectors and animal industry representatives 
marched into the Senate Committee on the 
Judiciary to carp about the inadequacy of 
existing regulations to crush SHAC and other militant animal rights groups.

On May 18, 2004, chair of the Judiciary 
Committee, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) took opinions 
from U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott; the FBI deputy 
assistant director for counterterrorism, John E. 
Lewis; William Green and Jonathan Blum, the 
senior vice presidents of Chiron Corporation (a 
noxious puppy killer associated with HLS) and 
Yum! Brands Inc. (the super-sized parent company 
behind most well-known fast-food chains); and the 
director of the Yerkes Primate Center, Dr. Stuart 
Zola. One after another, these motley 
billion-dollar boys shamelessly tried to cast 
themselves, their colleagues, and their family 
members as innocent victims of animal rights 
hooligans as they appealed for assistance in 
stopping what they claimed amounts to 
“terrorism.” Indeed, to listen to their combined 
testimony, the United States of America is a sort 
of uncontrolled Baghdad or Kabul war zone, 
besieged by marauding animal militias, rather 
than a highly centralized network of power bent 
on repressing dissent and regulating everyday life for the capital mongers.

The 2001 passage of the USA PATRIOT act and its 
vilification of “domestic terrorism” was by no 
means the first state volley in the war against 
animal liberation. For over a decade, animal 
exploitation industries and the state have 
collaborated to create laws intended to protect 
corporations and researchers from animal rights 
activists. In 1992, the federal government 
enacted the first major law designed to strike at 
the freedom of protest and dissent, the Title 18 
Animal Enterprise Protection Act (AEPA), which 
contains subsection 43 on “animal enterprise 
terrorism.” The law targets anyone who 
“intentionally damages or causes the loss of any 
property (including animals or records) used by 
the animal enterprise, or conspires to do so.” It 
also seeks to make an offender of whomever 
“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.” Yet, if the 
corporate-state complex has its way, Sen. Hatch 
will soon introduce new legislation that will 
make the legal right to transform the way 
institutions conduct themselves --through 
measures such as protests, demonstrations, and boycotts­a felony crime.

William Green of Chiron Corporation typified the 
whining before the Judiciary Committee when he 
asked Congress to send a stronger message to 
animal and earth activists and open the door to 
greater surveillance by federal, state, and local 
officials. Even though Chiron’s revenue grew to 
$1.8 billion in 2003, apparently the $2.5 million 
in lost earnings caused by SHAC, along with the 
tarnishing of the corporation’s reputation, makes 
SHAC enough of a threat that biotechnology 
companies and vivisectors want Congress to gut 
the Constitution to protect assumed corporate 
“rights” to profit from animal cruelty and 
scientific fraud. Thus, Green asked Congress to 
impose harsh 10-year sentences on the 
anti-vivisection “terrorists” and to define 
“animal enterprise” in broader terms that include 
not only all manner of organizations that use 
animals, but the non-animal enterprises that 
contract with these outfits as well. Again, the 
reason for this is plain: To date, SHAC has 
outwitted the corporate-biased legal system by 
carefully utilizing the First Amendment to 
coordinate economic strikes against its enemies. 
By avoiding tactics that center on illegal 
property destruction, while instead reporting on 
militant actions, running interference campaigns 
upon corporate communication systems with 
cyber-blockades, and demanding civic 
accountability through organized home 
demonstrations, SHAC takes full advantage of its legal rights.

Importantly, not everyone in government is moved 
by the hysterics of the animal research 
community. The committee’s minority leader, Sen. 
Patrick Leahy (D-VT), refused even to be present 
for this corporate conspiracy masked as a Senate 
hearing. Instead, Leahy wrote a statement for the 
public record that vilified the proceedings, wherein he remarked that
"most Americans would not consider the harassment 
of animal testing facilities to be ‘terrorism,’ 
any more than they would consider 
anti-globalization protestors or anti-war 
protestors or women’s health activists to be terrorists."

As he wondered aloud why not a single animal 
rights advocate was brought before the committee 
in a hearing supposedly designed to investigate 
“Animal Rights: Activism vs. Criminality,” Leahy 
also repeated his request for an oversight 
hearing with Attorney General John Ashcroft, who 
had dodged questioning from the Committee for over a year.

Leahy’s frustration at not being able to oversee 
the nation’s top prosecutor is perhaps aimed at 
Committee Chairman Hatch, who is a sort of Dr. 
Evil to Ashcroft’s Mini-Me. Hatch, like Ashcroft, 
was a primary drafter and supporter of the 
PATRIOT Act, and both have a penchant for writing 
nationalistic Christian music that eerily 
conflates healing our land with obeying an 
ambiguous power that is both Christ and Bush. But 
Hatch alone, the soft-spoken Mormon from the 
Great Salt Lake, distinguishes himself as the 
pharmaceutical industry’s leading spokesman in 
the closed chambers of legislation. Besides 
operating his own “nutritional” corporation, 
Pharmics, Inc., Hatch has received far and away 
the most money (in 2000, nearly twice as much as 
the next congressperson) from an industry laden 
with animal research and deeply threatened by 
committed animal advocates. As Chair of the 
Senate’s Judiciary Committee, he is well 
positioned to lobby for and draft statutes 
specifically designed to neutralize vitamins S, H, A, and C.

First Amendment Controversies

"Bush’s War on Terrorism is no longer limited to 
Al Qaeda or Osama Bin Laden
 The rounding up of 
[SHAC] activists should set off alarms heard by 
every social movement in the United States: This 
‘war’ is about protecting corporate and political 
interests under the guise of fighting terrorism.” -Will Potter

“Let Freedom Ring the Doorbell!” -SHAC campaign ad

The key issue for American citizens in the 
indictment of the SHAC 7 concerns the defendants’ 
First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and 
association. Critics of direct action protest, 
such as those who testified before the Senate 
Judiciary Committee, invariably claim that they 
respect the right to dissent, distinguishing 
“legitimate” (and easily contained) expressions 
of criticism and objection from those involving 
alleged criminal action. In this respect, 
according to U.S. Attorney Christie, the SHAC 7 
defendants were “exhorting and encouraging” 
actions not protected by the constitution.

The strategy of the corporate-state is to define 
SHAC-styled direct action as beyond the scope of 
constitutional protection. They seek to narrow 
the meaning of the First Amendment, and therefore 
to subject SHAC and other activists to an 
increasingly broad scope of criminal prosecution. 
Key questions, then, emerge from the United 
States’ attempt to prosecute SHAC: Do 
corporations and the state, as they claim, really 
respect the First Amendment and the democratic 
political sensibilities behind it? Are SHAC 
actions legal or illegal expressions of dissent? 
And, if they are illegal, do they constitute a 
special form of terrorism deserving of federal 
injunction, or are the myriad extant laws capable 
of penalizing specific acts of civil disobedience sufficient?

The latitude of the First Amendment is broad but, 
as is widely understood, rights are not absolute. 
The First Amendment does not grant individuals 
unqualified freedom to say or do anything they 
desire as a matter of civic right. According to 
classical liberal doctrine, such as formulated by 
philosopher-economist J.S. Mill, liberties extend 
to the point where one’s freedom impinges upon 
the good or freedom of another. Thus, no one has 
the right to injure, assault, or take the life of 
another endowed with rights. That, of course, is 
the theory; in American political practice, 
restrictions on liberty are frequently applied to 
consumers and citizens alike, but rarely to 
corporations who­capitalizing on the predatory 
logic of property rights­systematically exploit 
humans, animals, and the environment to their own advantage.

While there have been some strong defenses of the 
First Amendment by the U.S. Supreme Court, such 
as the protection of the Ku Klux Klan’s use of 
hate speech, there have also been severe lapses 
of judgment. Indeed, the entire last century is 
scarred by egregious Constitutional violations, 
ranging from the Red Scare of the 1920s, the 
loyalty oaths of the 1930s, and Sen. McCarthy’s 
witch hunts in the 1950s, to the FBI COINTELPRO 
operations of the 1960s and 1970s and the passage 
of the USA PATRIOT Act in 2001. U.S. history is 
riddled with precedents that demonstrate 
systematic and sweeping violations of First 
Amendment rights, such that freedom of speech is 
the exception, not the rule, of life in the USA.

The indictment of the SHAC 7 is just one of many 
clear indicators that we have entered into yet 
another chilling period of social repression and 
the quelling of dissent. While the media have 
largely focused public attention on Bush’s 
imperial Pax Americana, domestic police and 
federal agents have violently repressed 
demonstrations, surveilled legal organizations, 
collected and disseminated information on 
activists, and summoned individuals to grand 
juries in the attempt to intimidate and coerce 
information. Within this conservative social 
climate, as people are besieged by monopolistic 
capitalism, quasi-fascistic patriotism, religious 
ranting, and cultural paranoia, the 
corporate-state complex is using SHAC to launch 
its latest attack upon the Bill of Rights.

Put in this context, SHAC clearly is within its 
rights to criticize HLS, Chiron, and other 
corporations for exploiting animals. As 
established in landmark rulings by the Supreme 
Court, such as Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969), the 
First Amendment grants citizens the right to free 
speech up to the point of advocating violence 
toward others in such a way that violent actions 
might result as an immediate and imminent threat 
of one’s speech. SHAC reports on violent actions 
taken by individuals in groups such as the ALF or 
Revolutionary Cells and it posts home addresses 
and personal information of HLS employees or 
affiliates. But SHAC does not advocate violence 
against anyone, certainly not in any manner that 
incites immediate and imminent criminal actions.

Moreover, critics never trouble themselves with 
the crucial distinction between SHAC USA Inc., an 
aboveground, legal, and non-violent organization, 
and “the SHAC movement,” comprised of a 
wide-range of activists united against HLS that 
sometimes use illegal tactics and may have an 
underground presence. In its economically and 
politically motivated confusion, the 
corporate-state complex has targeted SHAC USA 
Inc. rather than the shadowy SHAC movement. In 
NAACP v. Claiborne Hardware Co. (1982), the 
Supreme Court ruled that an organization cannot 
be held accountable for actions of its members or 
followers; thus, SHAC USA Inc. is not responsible 
for the actions of the SHAC movement. To make the 
state’s case against SHAC even more difficult, 
the Supreme Court ruled in 2003 that 
anti-abortionists had the legal right to home 
demonstrations against abortion rights advocates, 
a decision that has clear implications for SHAC’s tactics against HLS.

Steal This System!

"Our strategy was to give Judge Hoffman a heart 
attack. We gave the court system a heart attack, 
which is even better.” -Jerry Rubin, member of the Chicago 7

“Whatever they throw at us, we just flow like a 
river.” -Heather Avery, SHAC UK activist

Just as the Chicago 7 represented the battle for 
human rights in the 1960s, so the SHAC 7 
dramatize animal rights as a key struggle of our 
day and as the logical extension of modern 
democratic traditions. Stigmatized as 
“terrorists,” the only crime these activists have 
committed is to defend innocent animals from 
barbaric exploitation and to uncompromisingly 
demand an end to corporate evil and scientific 
fraud. Like the Chicago 7 before them, the 
corporate-state complex casts the SHAC 7 as ugly 
hoodlums and a threat to “civilized” values, even 
though in their unflinching commitment to 
actualize a better and more peaceable world for 
humans and animals alike, these activists 
represent what is best about the U.S. political 
system. For all those who will not rise from the 
couch, or even vote, due to a long developing 
political cynicism, may the SHAC 7 re-ignite 
their hope for progressive change. Armed with 
little more than a website, a bullhorn, and the 
will to make a difference with their lives, 
SHACtivists have leveled an industry juggernaut 
and sent a loud message to every animal 
exploitation industry that eventually they will reap what they sow.

These are difficult times for free speech. Bush’s 
Terror War and its many cheerleaders instituted a 
fascist mandate against dissent and political 
action across the country, along with an apology 
for the status quo that only the most blatant 
failures in the war against Iraq were able to 
dent. Meanwhile, conservative outrage at media 
incidents such as Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe 
malfunction” and Howard Stern’s sexual and 
political antics resulted in the Federal 
Communications Commission imposing staggering 
fines for “obscenity,” a move designed to send a 
message that staying within the straightjacket of 
“free speech” is enlightened self-interest. 
Undaunted by state repression, SHAC continues to 
hammer away at HLS as it buttresses a sagging 
Constitution. Unafraid to use its grassroots 
power like a weapon of mass destruction, some may 
find SHAC to be intimidating for no other reason 
than it does the apparently unthinkable: it 
refuses to surrender its rights to those so deeply mired in what is wrong.

The point of the present indictment has less to 
do with a viable case against SHAC than with 
sending a chilling message to anyone who dares to 
assert their First Amendment rights in meaningful 
protest against Machiavellian powers. While SHAC 
has never been the sort of outfit to “go to 
Washington” and plead its case amidst suits, 
ties, and stars-and-stripes lapel pins, the SHAC 
7 now relish the opportunity to further expose 
HLS in the hypocritical halls of law.

During the greatest political trial of the 1960s, 
Chicago 7 members like Abbie Hoffmann freely 
showed their contempt for the court through 
subversive comic theater, such as when Hoffman 
arrived dressed in judge’s robes, which he then 
stomped upon. Black Panther member Bobby Seale 
was bound, gagged, and then tried separately 
after refusing the court’s right to treat him as 
anything but an uncooperative prisoner of war. 
Meanwhile, the defense attorney, William 
Kunstler, dragged the proceedings out for months 
by bringing a virtual “who’s who” of the 
counterculture into the trial to testify as witnesses against the state.

The SHAC 7 have promised no less a challenge for 
what will surely amount to one of the great 
domestic political trials of this era. They 
intend to convert crisis into opportunity by 
turning the tables against their accusers and 
exposing the real criminals and terrorists. In a 
far more visible public setting than they 
typically are accorded, SHAC welcomes the 
indictment in order to expose the heinous crimes 
of HLS, the fraud of vivisection, and the 
corruption of the state and legal system, as they 
will champion constitutional rights and the just cause of animal liberation.

Just as McDonald’s foolishly took on British 
activists Heather Steel and Dave Morris for the 
crime of exposing their lies in pamphlets, so the 
intimidation tactics of HLS and the state may 
backfire dramatically. Ongoing waves of arrests 
in Pennsylvania, California, New York, and 
elsewhere, in the continuing war against HLS, 
demonstrate that the SHAC movement has redoubled 
its efforts as a blowback to the corporate-state 
repression directed against it, and that HLS and 
the vivisection industry may be in for a good PR bruising.

The assault on the SHAC 7 in the era of the 
PATRIOT Act and “domestic terrorism” is a 
monumental event in the history of the animal 
rights movement. Let there be no mistake: the 
federal prosecution of the SHAC 7 is an attack on 
everyone who militates for the ideals of 
democracy, rights, freedom, and justice. As such, 
all those fighting for progressive causes of any 
kind should come now to SHAC’s defense. Already, 
there are signs of solidarity and evidence of a 
wider recognition of the significance of the SHAC 
7’s indictment. Animal rights activists­both 
critics and supporters of SHAC­are organizing 
speaking tours and fundraisers to help pay for 
legal expenses. Lisa Lange, communications 
director for PETA, told The Star-Ledger that the 
SHAC 7 were “long-time activists and 
well-respected” as she defended the need for 
militant action where legal systems are 
unresponsive to calls for justice. An even more 
important sign, because it emerged from the 
social justice community, was a recent Z Magazine 
article by Will Potter that grasped the relevance 
of the SHAC 7 indictment for all protest 
movements. As Potter stated: “Their only chance 
is for activists of all social 
movements­regardless of their political views­to 
support them, and oppose the assault on basic 
civil liberties. Otherwise, in Bush’s America, we could all be terrorists.”

It remains to be seen if activists involved in 
other causes will truly understand the indictment 
of the SHAC 7 in its broadest social and 
historical context, thereby showing solidarity 
with the myriad of SHACtivists and other direct 
action militants on the front lines of protest, 
making sure that their voices are anything but a 
whisper. Meanwhile, the animal liberation cause 
continues to grow throughout the world, 
establishing itself as both an heir of the great 
human liberation movements and a transcendent 
force that carries the fight for rights, justice, 
and equality toward its logical fulfillment. The 
struggle for “civilization” continues.

*This article originally appeared in the 
August/September 2004 issue of 
<http://www.impactpress.com/articles/augsep04/shac78904.html>IMPACT 
Press, a nonprofit, bi-monthly, socio-political 
magazine that features aggressive journalism, 
biting commentary and a healthy dose of satire.


----------
Dr. Steven Best is the chair of philosophy at the 
University of Texas at El Paso. His new book, 
co-edited with Anthony J. Nocella, 
<http://www.lanternbooks.com/detail.html?id=159056054x>Terrorists 
or Freedom Fighters: Reflections on the 
Liberation of Animals, features leading 
eco-terrorists like Paul Watson, Rod Coronado, 
Kevin Jonas, and Ingrid Newkirk; it promises to 
provoke a storm of controversy and many purchases by the FBI.

Richard Kahn is the ecopedagogy chair of the UCLA 
Paulo Freire Institute and maintains the 
top-ranked critical ecology blog 
<http://getvegan.com/blog/blogger.php>Vegan Blog: 
The (Eco)Logical Weblog. His motto is “Don’t Get 
Mad, Get Vegan!” T-shirts always available.

<http://www.pressaction.com/news/weblog/listing/C90/>More from Richard Kahn
<http://www.pressaction.com/news/weblog/listing/C89/>More from Steven Best


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