animinal abuse

Tennessee Horse Slaughter Bill Withdrawn!

Posted on

The Tennessee legislature makes a good move by putting down a horse slaughter bill. Now if they would just have the guts to take on the Medical Marijuana legislation instead of delaying it by saying they would ‘study’ the issue.

By Laura Allen 

Horse Slaughter Update April 28, 2010: Following a hearing yesterday before the full House Finance, Ways and Means, Tennessee state Rep. Frank Niceley withdrew his pro-horse slaughter bill, H.B. 1428, and it is now dead for this legislative session.

John Holland, founder and president of the Equine Welfare Alliance, and Paula Bacon, former mayor of Kaufman, Texas, site of one of the last horse slaughter plants in the U.S., testified in opposition to the bill.

Famed singer and songwriter, Willie Nelson and his daughter, Amy Nelson, and granddaughter, Raelyn Nelson, were at the hearing in opposition to this bill but did not testify before the committee.

Paula Bacon described that she was mayor of Kaufman “during part of 27 years we spent trying to deal with this horse slaughter plant.” She told the committee that a horse slaughter facility was a “burden to taxpayers…a stigma” and almost forced the city to spend “millions to upgrade ..the waste water treatment plant”.

Bacon said that building a horse slaughter facility was “very definitely not desirable economic development.” She said the facility does not create good jobs, just a handful of low paying, dangerous jobs. She described the burden on the local hospital because of the horse slaughter plant employees were often injured, even losing limbs.

She said the city derived no sales tax revenue from the horse slaughter plant. Bacon described that the $1600 in property taxes collected each year equaled about “2 weeks of a month paid in legal fees as we wrangled with this company that refused to comply with environmental laws.” She said income tax records showed in its last year of operation in the U.S., the company paid just $5 in federal income taxes on $12 million in sales and over a five year period paid only .3% of gross sales in taxes. 

Bacon showed the committee 1 ½ years worth of violations of the facility’s waste water treatment permit. She noted the permit allowed the facility to release about eight times the sewage permitted other business, yet the company was still often in violation, releasing waste and blood, that overran the town’s wastewater treatment facility.

Bacon said since the closing of the horse slaughter plant by the court in 2007, the town has not needed to proceed with a $6 million+ upgrade to its waste water treatment facility.

Bacon told the committee they would be better off having lead smeltering plants or sex-related businesses in their communities than a horse slaughter plant.

John Holland told the committee “If you get nothing else out of this, you heard how horse slaughter plants closed in 2007 and it caused problems for the horses. This is not true.” He pointed out that horse slaughter remained available in Canada and Mexico and approximately the same number of horses were shipped there as had been slaughtered in the U.S.

Holland pointed out, “There are lots and lots of drugs in these horses. …Because [horsemeat] is sold to foreign countries [for human consumption, our inspectors], looked the other way.” Holland described a study led by Dr. Ann Marini that revealed bute, given to horses like aspirin, is a deadly poison, a carcinogen. Bute never breaks down and remains a danger to consumers. He described the new European Union regulations which beginning this July will require certification that slaughtered horses were drug free for 6 months and that they had never ingested certain drugs. Holland explained that by July, 2013, the EU will require that horses must be tracked from birth. “As of that point, ” said Holland, “none of [the meat] from American horses could go to the EU.” Americans don’t track horses or, for the most part, the drugs given to them. As Holland, explained, “The horses just show up at auction and no one knows [ their history].”

Holland pointed out that though slaughter rates remained the same after the U.S. plants shut down, in 2009 there was a 20% drop in horse slaughter and 125 this year so far because of slowing demand. Holland said, “This is because the EU is figuring out the danger. Europeans are figuring out horse meat is not health food as they were told and instead they are eating New Jersey race horses.” He described it as “irresponsible” for anyone to build a horse slaughter facility in the U.S. given the danger.

Holland closed his testimony by noting that the horse slaughter facility in Canada, Natural Valley, was closed last year by the government for dropping large amounts of blood in rivers with no proper disposal. He said the horse slaughter facility cost the economy of that community $42 million.

Source: Thomas Paine’s Corner 

More: Animal Law Coalition  


The absurdity of man, who kills so easily and so violently, and once a year sends out cards praying for "Peace on Earth"

Posted on

If you have men who will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men. ~St. Francis of Assisi

If we cut up beasts simply because they cannot prevent us and because we are backing our own side in the struggle for existence, it is only logical to cut up imbeciles, criminals, enemies, or capitalists for the same reasons. ~C.S. Lewis

Factory Farming Atrocities

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. ~Mahatma Gandhi

Kosher ritual

Hat tip for this video to Brian

Isn’t man an amazing animal? He kills wildlife by the millions in order to protect his domestic animals and their feed. Then he kills domestic animals by the billions (9 billion in the U.S. alone in 1996) and eats them. This in turn kills man by the millions, because eating all these animals leads to degenerative – and fatal – health conditions like heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and cancer. So then man tortures and kills millions more animals to look for cures for these diseases. Elsewhere, millions of other human beings are being killed by hunger and malnutrition because food they could eat is being used to fatten domestic animals. Meanwhile, some people are dying of sad laughter at the absurdity of man, who kills so easily and so violently, and once a year sends out cards praying for “Peace on Earth”. ~C. David Coats

Tales of Abused Animals

Posted on

Our local news site, CannonWire, broke this animal abuse story here and here and here. The Nashville media has picked it up and made it a feature for tonight. Thanks to them. These stories need to be told.

I’m going to speculate that this case was a symptom of the current economic situation. In my travels over the last couple of years in the middle Tennessee deep rural areas I’ve seen the same thing. People are poor, they can’t sell the horses at any price and the animals slowly starve for lack of alternatives.

The mistreatment of animals gets attention when it’s about the poor horses or dogs but the abuse and slaughter every day in factory farms so we can gorge ourselves with cheap meat is rarely mentioned. The media is silent when the abuse is ‘acceptable,’ traditional and sanctioned.

My comment to the wire on this…..

I’m encouraged by the concern and number of comments on this animal abuse story. It’s truly something that should not happen.

But I’m wondering how many would feel the concern if the story was about the 10 billion animals slaughtered each year in this country, 99% of them in factory farms where every single animal is abused.


Hatchery abuse…

Horrors of a turkey farm…Happy Thanksgiving

Downer cattle

inside the horse slaughter house

I could go on and on but I hear a $1 value burger at McDonald’s calling. yum


Cannon Courier article and photos here.

Vivisection – The Hidden Genocide

Posted on

Along with animal factory farming and the resulting carnage and environmental degradation, vivisection is an issue that gets buried among many ‘progressives’ and ‘conservatives’ who would rather look the other way.

Jason Miller – He no longer heard the cries of the animals or saw the flowing blood….

Millions of nonhuman animals are vivisected every year to ensure our “safety” when we take prescription drugs. Just how safe are we? Consider that adverse drug reactions (ADRs) are the fourth leading cause of death, 15% of hospital admissions are related to ADRs, prescription drugs kill over 100,000 people every year (more than street drugs), and ADRs cost us over $130 billion in medical expenses every year.

Despite its demonstrably abysmal results and despite exciting breakthroughs in genetics and other areas of science, and the rapid development of technologies that make vivisection antiquated and obsolete, it persists, not because it brings “truth,” but rather because it is highly profitable up and down throughout the long chain of “research.” There is tremendous peer-pressure and academic inertia to continue confining and torturing other sentient beings without their consent for several reasons, but aside from the facts that vivisection is a deeply entrenched orthodoxy which is handed down from one generation of researchers to the next and that nonhuman animal research is easily published (no small incentive to practice it in the ‘publish or perish’ environments of universities), vivisection generates and protects income. Vivisection continues to be highly regarded and heavily promoted within the mainstream medical and scientific communities, as many universities have come to depend mightily upon the multi-million dollar grants they receive to fund nonhuman animal research, even that which is frivolous or redundant.

Big Pharma, one of the largest supporters and beneficiaries of nonhuman animal research, uses its significant influence—an influence derived from deep pockets and even deeper incestuous relationships with legislators, government regulators, peer-reviewed medical journals, publicly funded institutions, and doctors—to sustain the lie that it would be impossible to innovate and market new prescription drugs without vivisection. {more}

Good Ol’ Humans Club

Who’s Afraid of Jerry Vlasak?

European Parliament: MEPs Buckle Under Vivisection Industry Pressure

Great apes suffer setback in EU animal testing vote

Getting away with Murder: Whatever happened to ‘above all, do no harm’?

Feigned Indignation: Of marauding exploiters, their “ethical qualms,” and a new proposal

Posted on

Thomas Paine’s Corner

[Graphic: Greed by ~Liol]

By Jason Miller


Since there was little appetite for my recent polemic in which I advocated including necro-cannibalism as an integral part of our strategy to combat ecocide and world hunger, because very few appeared to take note of the fact that it was not my intention to carefully craft an update of Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” (I was actually hurling a hunk of concrete into the placid waters of the indoctrinated readers’ minds in order to observe the resultant splash and subsequent ripples), and since despite the depth of Homo rapien moral depravity and their sheer indifference to the suffering, murder, mayhem, and destruction that the human collective causes in order to satiate our desires and perpetuate the disease we call civilization, reader response indicated that the thought of eating our “fellow man” was taking things a bit too far, I’m advancing yet another potential solution to the myriad and complex maladies we’ve inflicted upon nonhuman animals, the Earth and ourselves.

Homo rapiens, who, judging by the state of the world, outnumber Homo sapiens by a wide margin, are a self-centered, mean-spirited bunch. Maybe their swarming hordes can get behind an idea that saves their asses, eases what little conscience they have, requires little or no risk or effort on their part, and doesn’t involve the possibility of their cherished grandmas winding up as hotdogs rather than worm fodder or cinders.

As an aside, had I written my apologia for necro-cannibalism as a serious assertion, what pray tell would have been so ghastly, macabre, reprehensible, or unthinkable about it? It’s not like we would be committing homicide. The people we would be eating would have died prior to being slated to appear on the menu at McDonald’s. Some amongst us directly perpetrate (and many of the rest of the rest of us openly or tacitly support) the murder of billions of sentient beings (including “universally sacred” human animals) each year in factory “farms,” laboratories, and in faraway lands inhabited by the uninitiated whom we must bomb into the stone age that they might become enlightened enough to embrace the American Way of Life.

What an arbitrary, skewed, hypocritical and bizarre set of ethics and priorities we have. The Earth is teeming with 6.5 billion people who are stripping it bare like a plague of locusts, food shortages are reaching crisis levels, and the Homo rapiens are going to balk at the source of the flesh they so love to devour? Though they may represent the next stage in hominid evolution (on the other hand, one could advance a strong argument that they represent a de-evolution), they need to get over themselves. Or they won’t have any selves left to get over.

Sorry, I couldn’t resist tossing another chunk of cement and muddying those placid waters once more. As a critical thinker who has stopped drowning out my inner voice with Western civilization’s ubiquitous and numerous forms of anesthetizing, conscience-killing soma, I have my eyes wide open to the constant barrage of inanities, perversities, hypocrisies, deceptions, distortions, and insanities with which our barbaric “civilized” culture perpetually pelts us. As my beloved Sylvia often says about the Homo rapiens she encounters each day, “If they come at me crazy, I’m getting crazy right back.” So let’s talk cannibalism a bit more.

Moral and ethical objections to necro-cannibalism are hollow and pathetically feeble when voiced by the savage mob of our collective “advanced, industrialized civilization” that preys economically upon “developing nations;” subjugates hundreds of millions of people through the use of puppet plutocracies, neo-liberal economic policies, military bases installed for “protection,” or outright imperial invasion; gluttonously gobbles up far more than its share of the world’s “natural resources”—eating them and shitting them out or running them through atmosphere-toxifying factories that create more “things” that will quickly become a part of the breathtakingly enormous mountain of garbage through which we will eventually be wading; drops smart bombs (now there’s an oxymoron for you) that only kill the “bad guys”–plus a few hundred “victims of collateral damage;” tortures and murders millions of nonhuman animals every day to yield a plethora of unnecessary products; ends millions of lives before they get started through abortions; locks up nonviolent substance abusers because of their skin color and economic class whilst letting mass murderers like Bush and Cheney run free; leaves billions to live in miserable squalor to enable the American Dream for a relative few; and more. Yet in the midst of an ecocrisis in which industrial agriculture plays a large role, we’re going to keep downing “pork,” “beef,” and “poultry” by the shovel full and get squeamish about stabbing our fork into a morsel of nourishing human flesh that would otherwise go to waste? How about a steaming plate of self-centeredness and an ice cold glass of hypocrisy to wash that down?

My apologies; again I digress. Forget cannibalism. As my “friends” who grease the gears of capitalism would say, “There’s no market for it!” Unlike our imperialistic, war-mongering government (which is merely a reflection of our Homo rapien society), those who are fighting for the Earth obviously don’t have the luxury of keeping “all options on the table.”

I’ll skip moralizing about the abject cruelty of exploiting nonhuman animals to consume their flesh because I recognize that Homo rapiens are too selfish to give up their beloved “meat,” despite the fact that many give lip service to ending the horrors of factory “farming” in favor of “happy meat.” So as my dear “compatriots,” the capitalists, love to say, “I’ll give you the bottom line here.” The bottom line is that the extant system of factory “farming” is an environmental disaster and a tremendous waste of resources.

You can Google the statistics if you prefer more specificity, but for those flesh addicts who are comfortable with the savagery of nonhuman animal consumption, there are two compelling pragmatic reasons to find an alternative “meat” source: pollution and “resource” depletion.

The billions of nonhuman animals destined to wind up on plates or between slices of bread produce seas of urine and excrement. For now Tyson, Smithfield Farms and their ilk pump this waste into storage lagoons, which are filled with this putrid slurry of piss and shit mixed with a host of other waste products, including antibiotics, pesticides, the rotting corpses of nonhuman animals crushed or trampled to death, afterbirth, and stillborns.

What the hell are we going to do with all of that infectious, repugnant sludge as time progresses? Perhaps we could simply do what the billions of sentient beings we’ve oppressed and exploited to sustain our American Way of Life (the soul-sucking, murderous machine we call Western civilization) would love to see us do and “eat shit and die.” No, that’s too drastic. We, as a collective, have done some pretty rotten things and our system’s got to go, but there’s plenty of room for personal redemption on a case by case basis—for most of us any way. So, the question remains, what are we going to do with vast seas of poisonous sewage that threaten to contaminate groundwater, streams, ponds, rivers, and lakes?

Pollution aside, we have another problem that is perhaps even bigger. It takes 16 pounds of grain and 2500 gallons of water to make one pound of “beef.” The global demand for “meat” is skyrocketing as populous nations like China and India aspire to the “heights” of American capitalism and clamor for body parts on their menus. One third of the global population is starving, mostly in “developing” nations, so that the “deserving” citizens of wealthier nations can gorge themselves on flesh. I realize that I’ve wasted a sentence on another of those idiotic moral concerns which Homo rapiens have rationalized away or are just too fucking mean to care about, so let me instead point out that world-wide demand for “meat” is projected to double by 2050 and that our industrial agricultural system is already incapable of providing food for a rapidly growing population of 6.5 billion humans. Therefore, there’s a strong chance that you and your children, dear reader, could be affected—very adversely I might add. (That’s how you get the attention of a Homo rapien—you inform them of something that’s going to directly impact THEM and “theirs.”)

Our current form of “meat” production is rife with irresolvable problems, vegans/vegetarians are still about as rare as recent stock market success stories, and the number of people demanding to feast upon rotting flesh is rising meteorically. A head-scratching, hair pulling dilemma if ever I encountered one.

Eliminating “meat” from our collective diet is a non-starter. Necro-cannibalism went over like reruns of the Lawrence Welk show on MTV. Lowering demand by voluntarily decreasing consumption would be impossible given our “all about me,” “individual freedom with no responsibility to the group” ethos. Appeals to conscience, you say? No, I tried that and most people just laughed and stuffed their mouths with another hunk of rotting animal flesh.

read the rest at Thomas Paine’s Corner

SHAC Ferociously Hammered by the Ruthless Corporate-State Complex

Posted on

The dissenter in this example is an animal activist. The message being sent is that the state is more than willing to make an example of individuals who speak out, stand up and take action in their commitments.

Truth is always under attack. Those who dare speak it risk their liberty the same as an endangered species faces extinction in a world not of their making.

From Thomas Paine’s Corner


Brief background description and history of SHAC (excerpted from Averting the China Syndrome at

SHAC arose in England in 1999, evolving from a pre-history of amazingly successful direct action campaigns designed to close down animal breeders and to disrupt the supply chain to the pharmaceutical industries.[12] In rapid succession, from 1996-1999, militant activists and diverse communities of people in England closed down Consort Beagle breeders, Hillgrove Cat Farm, and Shamrock Primate Farm. Once HLS was exposed for particularly heinous forms of animal torture, and it became clear the government had no intention of enforcing its own welfare laws, SHAC founders Greg Avery, Heather Nicholson, and Natasha Dellemagne Avery went into action.

These brilliant activists formed SHAC with the novel intent to target one major drug and chemical testing company, Huntington Life Sciences (HLS). The goal was to rock the foundations of the entire pharmaceutical industry by bringing down a giant, chasing HLS it to all corners of the world with an unprecedented global campaign. And true to their militant spirit and intent, SHAC has had a devastating effect on HLS. They drove them to incorporate in the US so that they could hide the identity of their shareholders and lenders, caused them to be delisted from both the New York and London Stock Exchanges, and have forced numerous lenders, customers, and vendors to cease doing business with HLS. On the verge of collapse from such effective new tactics, HLS would have folded altogether if not for financial bailouts from both the UK and US, and it continues to stagger due to persistent SHAC attacks, even while the founders and other leading members of SHAC have been imprisoned across the Atlantic and here at home. SHAC paid a price, true, but so did HLS, and the war continues. SHAC’s innovative tactics proved so successful that other political groups have adopted them for their cause……In fact SHAC is one of the most intelligent, shrewd, and cunning campaigns ever developed in any social movement. Striking a primary target by attacking secondary and supporting companies, innovative use of websites and the Internet to coordinate campaigns, novel types of pressure tactics such as home demos and public shaming, chasing HLS all the way from England to the NYSE and beyond are just some of the elements that characterize the SHAC campaign as a brilliant tactical breakthrough and potential historic watershed in the struggle for human, nonhuman animal, and Earth liberation.


An Open from Heather Nicholson (Heather is pictured above and you can reach her by mail at Heather Nicholson VM 4859-2B-21, HMP Bronzefield, Woodthorpe Road, Ashford, Middlesex, TW15 3JZ, England), the SHAC activist receiving the longest prison sentence:

Dear Friends,

I am very grateful for your support. Words can never adequately express what it means to me and how much you have helped me. Your support for me means that you support the animals and that brings me some comfort.

I spoke up for the animals in court while I was being questioned for nearly 4 whole days. It was frustrating though & I came out feeling as if I had said about 1% of what I had intended to say. I am heartbroken as always for the animals still suffering at the hands of the cowards at HLS. It makes me cry to think that they (the animals) have no idea that anyone cares. It is frightening that they have so many powerful enemies.

I predicted that there would be no justice & that the media would be vile & untruthful * I was right. Any attack on us is an attack on the animals. I don’t mind if the truth is reported as long as it is relevant but the news has been massively distorted, to say the least, ( especially calling me “mastermind”!) The press were only in court at the start & very end of the three-month trial so what they reported was fed to them by the police plus what they made up (see Daily Mail!!!).

Claims of impartiality are nonsense & the police & the press were practically snogging each other every time the jury left the courtroom. In over 4000 pages of covert audio surveillance, not once did I say anything that amounted to blackmail or committing an illegal act. there was no evidence that I had ever made an “unwarranted demand with menaces” because I haven’t. The judge agreed with me & said that I was quite right when I said that I hadn’t sent nasty things through the post, damaged anyone’s property, threatened anyone etc – nor was I accused of doing so. The crazy thing is that you don’t have to do anything to be convicted of conspiracy but the sentences are long (even longer for us!!!). I have just been sentenced to 11 years in prison. It is just insane – even if I had been guilty. The guards at court were angry & bemused by the ‘guilty’ verdicts & sentences. I could give you hundreds of examples of horrific crimes that have received lesser sentences than mine (and I have never hurt anyone in my life!). Here is just a small selection:

(i) a woman held down two children to be raped – 8yrs.
(ii) Two men got drunk & punched a random passerby to death – 3 yrs
(iii) Three men raped a 14 yr old girl & filmed it – then they poured caustic soda over her – 9yrs, 7yrs, 5yrs
(iv) Anyone who tortures and kills an animal or is cruel in any way will never get more than 6 months
(v) People who kill others in a hit & run sometimes get as little as 4 months
(vi) A woman killed her baby – 5 yrs
(vii) A man stamped on another man’s head & left him in a wheelchair for life – 7 yrs

I don’t regret going to trial because my words are recorded forever by the court, so if someone in 50 years time does some research they will see that that what we said in court bears little resemblance to what was reported. The media have shamelessly deceived the public. My biggest concern though was that the worst photo that has ever been taken of me was on television all night long!!! I looked like something out of Silent Witness!

SHAC is a phenomenal ground-breaking campaign that has shaken the vivisection industry to the core by totally legitimate means. I am not saying that unjust laws should not be broken – after all it is the ‘law’ that allows such suffering of animals. And that law is wrong. A few years ago Tony Blair had a secret meeting with GSK, Novartis & others who told him that unless he sorted out the animal rights activists they (the drug companies) would leave the UK. (Now that’s BLACKMAIL!!) It was no coincidence that we were raided in May 2007 a matter of weeks before Tony Blair quit.

My conscience is more than clear & I am extremely proud of everything that I have helped to achieve over the years. I am proud that I didn’t sit back & cry in my armchair about how awful animal cruelty is but actually tried to change things & I made a stand against cruelty & oppression. I said in court to the jury that in time people would look back in horror at this trial & say “was it really legal to do that to animals & did they really put people in prison for trying to stop it?

We were very unlucky to have such a cold, heartless, callous jury who clearly didn’t care about people or animals. Some were seen giggling & sniggering with the police while barristers were making their closing speeches. I will never understand how they could sit and watch puppies being punched in the face and then find any of us guilty.

When I gave evidence I asked the jury if they would object, complain or intervene if someone dragged a dog into court & started punching her and, if they would, then perhaps they should be stood in the dock with me! I wonder if they are all happy now in the knowledge that WE are in jail and not a single person in the courtroom (part from us and some supporters in the public gallery) would ever speak out or take action to stop the atrocities occurring inside HLS. Clearly no-one on the jury would have lifted a finger to help any animal (or person) in danger. Watching the New york airplane’s emergency landing in the Hudson river, I thought it was wonderful to see the ferries rushing to help save the passengers, throwing life jackets – and then hearing the survivors speaking so emotionally about their frightening experience and expressing their deep gratitude to the brave pilot and the people who didn’t hesitate to help them. We all hope, pray and sometimes expect to be save when we are in danger.

It breaks my heart that so many people in the world and billions of animals can scream and struggle and plead, and no-one comes to their rescue. I can’t bear it. To rescue is at the heart of my being and that is all that I have ever wanted to do. It is my motivation for campaigning against cruelty. All of you who have carried on the SHAC campaign (and others) – you have my utmost respect and admiration . Thank you.

The support for all of us in here from other prisoners and officers continues to be amazing. They too are bemused and angry at the verdict. They express to us their feelings of outrage at the injustice of the convictions and the sentences. I always said that I would not be devastated if found guilty (I’m not) and wouldn’t be celebrating if found not guilty. The only losers are the animals at HLS and they are still suffering. The sentences passed down to us were a victory for sadism, greed and cowardice. The compassionate and brave have lost their freedom ……..for now.!!!

I am enormously proud and in awe of the activists that I stood side by side with in court – Gregg, Natasha, Gavin, Dan Amos, Dan Wadham and Gerrah. They are all exceptional, selfless people and have all conducted themselves with great courage and dignity throughout this whole circus. I will never forget Gavin and Dan Wadham’s evidence in the witness box. They were superb.

Sometimes I feel like I am living on the wrong plane because for me it is natural to run to the aid of others and to speak out when something is wrong and here i am imprisoned for 11 years. It is ingrained in me to be kind. It always has been and always will be and it is baffling to me that others can be so cruel. I will never understand it as long as i live. All I can do is to try to stop it.

The prison sniffer dogs have just been around and have totally made my day. I sat on the floor cuddling Sam (who looks like my Laddie) and tears were pouring down my face. Those dogs filled me with such energy and strength and warmth and love.


The machinations of state repression in a “liberal democracy”:

Corporate Watch on the SHAC sentencing: Activists receive indefinite ASBOs


How the State Protects Corporations From Dissent
Jailed SHAC activists Receive Indefinite ASBOs

On Wednesday 21st January 2009 the police’s National Extremism Tactical Coordination Unit issued a press release celebrating the jailing of seven animal rights campaigners for “over fifty years”. In their press release NETCU are at pains to point out that the sentences have “nothing to do with freedom of expression” and that those jailed are “extremists”.

NETCU, a shady, unaccountable branch of the UK’s expanding political police, have thrown the weight of their press department behind a campaign to present the seven defendants, all active in the Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC) campaign, as extremists. The mainstream media has swallowed NETCU’s spin unquestioningly without seeing the affair for what it is – a political trial with serious ramifications for the right of individuals to voice their dissent against corporate power.

On December 23rd, 4 out of 5 activists on trial at Winchester Crown Court were found guilty of ‘Conspiracy to Blackmail’ at Winchester Crown Court after a 3 and a half month long trial. Natasha and Greg Avery and Dan Amos had plead guilty during Summer 2008. During the trial much had been made about how each defendant fitted in to what the prosecution described as the ‘hierarchy’ of the SHAC campaign. At the three day long sentencing in January, Judge Butterfield sentenced the defendants according to how he saw them in this ‘hierarchy’, not according to the evidence against them. Accordingly Greg and Natasha Avery were given the heaviest sentences possible, but were given credit for their guilty pleas and were sentenced to serve nine years each. Heather Nicholson, who plead not-guilty, received the longest actual sentence, eleven years. Gavin Medd Hall was sentenced to eight years, Daniel Wadham got five years, and Daniel Amos and Gerrah Selby were each sentenced to four years.

One thing that was not reported at all by the mainstream media was the imposition of indefinite anti social behaviour orders (ASBOs) on four of the defendants preventing them from protesting against animal experimentation. These ASBOs make otherwise lawful protest activity into a crime, punishable by up to five years in prison. The use of indefinite ASBOs against protesters is, as far as Corporate Watch knows, a completely new development. The terms of the orders could prevent these four people, all dedicated campaigners against vivisection, from ever voicing their political views again. The orders could even be interpreted as preventing the defendants from speaking or writing against vivisection.

By giving the maximum possible sentences, the Judge was effectively saying that this case represented the most serious form of blackmail. However, the allegations against those convicted would not fit in at all with a layman’s definition of blackmail

As Corporate Watch wrote last month, the charges related to over four years of concerted campaigning against Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS). The essence of the blackmail charge is that SHAC called for companies to cease trading with HLS and wrote polite letters to that effect. SHAC also encouraged their supporters to write to and protest against companies working with HLS. In some cases, direct action occurred, but this was never called for by SHAC. Letters were sent to company employees falsely accusing them of paedophilia, threats were received in the post and cars were paintstrippered. Evidence was presented that suggested that some of the defendants may have had knowledge of, or been involved in, some of these activities. However, many defendants were convicted because of what they said on demonstrations against HLS and their suppliers or because of the length of their involvement with SHAC.

Let us look at the case of Heather Nicholson, the defendant who received the most severe sentence, eleven years. Heather is a committed, long-term campaigner for animal rights and had been involved with SHAC since the beginning. She had lived and worked at the SHAC office and been involved with communicating, politely, with companies doing business with HLS. Only the most tenuous of circumstantial evidence linked Heather to any of the activities parroted in the press as attributed to her. Heather was convicted because of her long involvement with SHAC and given the most severe sentence because of Judge Butterfield’s perception of her importance to the campaign.

In the case of the defendants who were newer to SHAC, their convictions stemmed largely from words spoken on demonstrations. These convictions are extremely worrying as threatening words should normally be dealt with, at most, by charges under the Public Order Act. Again, the catch-all charge of ‘conspiracy to blackmail’ meant that the defendants could be dealt with more severely because of their association with others.

Judge Butterfield was not content with the harsh sentence doled out to the SHAC 7. In his sentencing he invited the Department of Public Prosecutions to consider “indefinite detention” in blackmail cases. Surely Judge Butterfield had seen the potential for the state to use this charge in the future as a bludgeon to silence political dissent.

Despite the repression of the SHAC 7, resistance against HLS, Europe’s biggest animal testing laboratory, continues. Protests against financiers of HLS, and in solidarity with the SHAC 7, have taken place across the UK, Europe and the US while a protest against the Bank of England, who have provided HLS with banking facilities since their regular bankers dropped them, was planned for 27th February. (see )

For more on the state repression of anti-corporate dissent see:

Animal Rights Activists Convicted of Conspiracy to Blackmail

Whose Agenda do Reports of Eco-Terrorism Serve?

To write to the SHAC 7:

Natasha Avery NR8987 and Heather Nicholson VM 4859-2B-21, HMP Bronzefield, Woodthorpe Road, Ashford, Middlesex, TW15 3JZ, England. Dan Amos VN7818, Gregg Avery TA7450, Gavin Medd-Hall WV9475 and Dan Wadham WV9474 at HMP Winchester, Romsey Road, Winchester, SO22 5DF. England.

Thomas Paine’s Corner asks that you write letters of solidarity, support and encouragement to these courageous animal defenders who sacrificed their freedom and much more on behalf of our nonhuman animal brethren.

Heather has asked that friends of the SHAC7 consider making a donation to that org (GREEK ANIMAL RESCUE) in their names.

Source: Thomas Paine’s Corner

Pacifism or Animals: Which Do You Love More?

Posted on

By Steven Best and Jason Miller

“Our complex global economy is built upon millions of small, private acts of psychological surrender, the willingness of people to acquiesce in playing their assigned parts as cogs in the great social machine that encompasses all other machines. They must shape themselves to the prefabricated identities that make efficient coordination possible… that capacity for self-enslavement must be broken.” Theodore Roszak

Ironically, the relatively few animal defenders who carry out the struggle against the monstrous animal-industrial complex through militant direct action (MDA), such as property destruction and liberating caged animals, often find that animal exploiters are not their only opponents. In a perverse twist, a surprisingly large number of people whom the casual observer would assume to be allied with direct activists often align themselves with animal oppressors in their rush to show they “reach across the aisle,” “remain civil,” “work within the system,” and above all, “adhere to non-violence.” They become perfect puppets of the corporate-state complex.

One can stop wondering why the animal advocacy movement is losing the fight, as meat consumption skyrockets, animal exploitation increases exponentionally, the sixth great species extinction crisis rapidly accelerates, and the planetary ecosystem irrevocably comes undone. Couple Gansen’s dogmatic adherence to declawed and defanged “socially acceptable” forms of activism with her conclusion that, “the effect of some alleged ‘animal terrorists’ in recent years is that laws are now on the books that may be used against people who trespass on land to get real evidence that is needed to put someone in jail,” and it becomes apparent that Gansen is a clone of Lee Hall, the consummate smug bourgeois liberal, loathe to break the law or directly challenge capitalism.

read the entire essay: Thomas Paine’s Corner