News Index > Apr-Sept '06 > Sept 2006
Prison terms may drive others to stealthy violence

TRENTON, N.J. - A spokeswoman for a Philadelphia animal rights group that saw six of its members sent to prison for inciting violence against testing labs said Tuesday the sentences could drive other activists underground, reasoning that it's safer to conduct nighttime acts of harassment or violence than to be "above-board, legal activists."

Speaking after the final two defendants belonging to Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty were sentenced to federal prison terms of between one and three years, Andrea Lindsay said the outcome could encourage other animal activists to undertake clandestine acts of sabotage.

Along with the organization itself, the group's six activists were convicted in March of using a Web site to incite threats, harassment and vandalism against Huntingdon Life Sciences, a Britain-based company that tests drugs and household products on animals.

"The message they're taking away from this is: What's the point of being an above-board legal activist with your name on a Web site out there in public?" Lindsay said. "You're the one they're going to get.

"There's a message going out to protesters that it's safer to go out at night to break windows," she said. "If I were a new activist, that's the message I'd get."

The comments drew a strong reaction from the U.S. Attorney's office, which prosecuted the six.

"That's the kind of twisted logic we've been dealing with from these militant animal rights followers who can rationalize their behavior, inspire others to do likewise, and refuse to take responsibility for their actions," said Michael Drewniak, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie. "It's just unbelievable that they can view harsh prison sentences this way."

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