From: "Karen Dawn" news@DawnWatch.com
Front page story on SHAC campaign
11/28/04

I am slow getting this out, but wanted everybody to know about a lengthy (almost 4,000 words) front page story in the Sunday, November 28, Newark Star Ledger (huge New Jersey paper) about the Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC) campaign. It was an even-handed story, which I am told was accompanied by a beautiful photo of big brown-eyed Beagle -- the experimental dog of choice due to their sweet temperaments.

The piece, by John P. Martin, was headed, "Animal rights and wrongs. The battle over a testing company in New Jersey and England marks a turning point in a global movement."

It opens: "The wounds from Brian Cass' beating healed long ago, and his employees don't worry as much these days about cars exploding in their driveways or bullhorn-wielding protesters outside their bedroom windows.

"But Huntingdon Life Sciences, the pharmaceutical and chemical- testing company that Cass runs, still struggles to keep customers and suppliers. It can't get a checking account from a British bank, and local taxis won't drive fares to its headquarters here in the rolling countryside 70 miles north of London.

"And HLS, as it is known, hasn't stopped killing about 70,000 animals a year -- mostly rats, but also fish, monkeys and dogs -- used to test drugs and other consumer products at its labs here and in Somerset County, New Jersey. That testing is what put the company in the spotlight five years ago, when animal rights supporters launched an unprecedented campaign to close HLS.

"Since then, efforts by the supporters of Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty, or SHAC, have spread to a half-dozen countries, tangled the legal system and wreaked millions of dollars in property damage and business losses worldwide.

"The campaign has forced dozens of companies to cut ties to the lab, and other groups already are starting to mimic SHAC's tactics, giving once-loosely organized protesters a blueprint for campaigns that go beyond placards and demonstrations.

"Using the Internet, intimidation and a barrage of effective but disturbing guerrilla-like protests and attacks, SHAC targets not just a company, but also its investors, clients and suppliers -- the pillars of support every business needs to function."

It goes on to document some SHAC tactics, and later in the article discusses the bombing of Chiron (it does business with HLS) last year.

There is a nice quote from Greg Avery, the founder of SHAC, in response to the suggestion that SHAC activists are extremists: "An extremist is someone who gets out of bed in the morning and goes to Huntingdon and poisons animals."

Martin writes, "HLS became notorious in 1997 following two hidden-camera exposés. An undercover British television report on the lab sparked a government probe into animal mistreatment at the Huntingdon plant, company firings and sanctions by regulators."

(Unfortunately he does not detail the footage, but if you go to http://www.shac.net/MERCHANDISE/videos.html you can watch an HLS scientist repeatedly punching a Beagle puppy in the head, and a primate on an operating table, moving her head around, her chest cut wide open.)

The article documents the success of the campaign in the UK, and then the company's move to the United States, where the campaign has continued, headed up by "Kevin Kjonaas" (generally known as Kevin Jonas). Frankie Trull, who heads up the National Association for Biomedical Research, says of the campaign: "I have been (following) the animal rights movement for 25 years and I've never seen anything like this."

Martin discusses the increasingly heated rhetoric from some key players such as Dr Jerry Vlasak and Pamelyn Ferdin (SHAC-USA's new president) who were recently banned from the UK.

The article ends on the following note. We have a quote from Mike Caulfield, the vice president of US operations of HLS: "Kjonaas has said that HLS is the domino. We believe him, that if they were to be successful in closing this business down, it would embolden SHAC and their associates to a degree that is exponentially frightening relative to what we've experienced."

And then a quote from Greg Avery, regarding the indictments against the Kevin Jonas and six others, and other attempts to stifle the campaign:  "You can judge the effect you're having by the way your enemy reacts."

I have given a brief summary of a lengthy and interesting article on the history and tactics of SHAC. I highly recommend reading the whole piece, which you will find on line at: http://www.nj.com/news/ledger/index.ssf?/base/news-19/1101621395275790.xml  or  http://tinyurl.com/584en

No matter how one feels about SHAC tactics, this huge front page story gives us a great opportunity to express how we feel about the vivisection industry. (If it is an area you don't know much about. A good place to do some reading is: http://www.peta.org/mc/factsheet_experimentation.asp )

The Newark Star Ledger takes letters at: eletters@starledger.com and advises "Letters must not exceed 200 words. All submissions must include the writer's name, address and phone number. Address and phone numbers are kept confidential. Unsigned submissions will not be used."

Please write.

Yours and the animals',
Karen Dawn