At 6:40 a.m. on
Wednesday, May 26th I received a phone call. The FBI had just
arrested three members of Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC
USA) in Pinole, CA. They entered the house with guns drawn
as Federal Air Marshals hovered outside in helicopters. Reports
were also coming in that long-time activist Andy Stepanian
had been arrested at his home earlier that morning and rumors
were already spreading that others had been apprehended. My
friend on the other end of the line warned me that I might
Twenty minutes later there was a knock at my door. Members
of the FBI’s domestic terrorism squad and the Office
of Homeland Security were outside of my apartment. I was told
that I was being arrested on an indictment out of New Jersey
for conspiracy to violate the Animal Enterprise Terrorism
Act (AETA). All told, the FBI made seven arrests that morning,
sweeping activists out of their homes in four states. While
some of those indicted, including myself, face only one count
in the indictment, others face up to five felony charges each.
These arrests did not occur because animal liberation volunteers
had gone from legal campaigning to terrorizing the general
public. In fact, the indictment alleges very few illegal activities,
and those it does allege are not attributed to any of the
arrested activists themselves. Most of what the indictment
mentions are legal forms of protest, like calling companies
to complain about animal abuse or sending e-mails to HLS collaborators.
Even a conservative legal analyst from Fox News has expressed
that she finds the indictment to be “reaching.”
So why were we arrested?
Supposedly, the federal government feels that by reporting
news from the campaign on a website, philosophically supporting
direct action, and attending and organizing legal demonstrations,
we were in actuality conspiring to make other people break
the law. Legal activities such as letter writing are also
being counted as part of an illegal campaign because the government
proclaims that we conspired to create such a volume of letters
as to interfere with interstate commerce.
Sounds absurd? It gets worse.
One part of the indictment actually makes mention of a “Top
20 Terror Tactics” post on the SHAC website. What the
prosecutors fail to mention is that SHAC did not write the
document, but re-posted it from a pro-vivisection website,
which had written it to rally support against SHAC. In other
words, people are facing jail sentences and millions of dollars
in fines for placing our opposition’s writings on the
The political motivation of these indictments should be clear.
SHAC and other groups campaigning against HLS have successfully
interfered with the profiteering of powerful people for nearly
five years. These rich and powerful people are now using their
connected and influential friends (including Republican U.S.
Senator Orin Hatch, who hopes to expand the AETA) in order
to retaliate against us, and worse, to send a message to anyone
else who would dare stand in the way of animal abuse and speciesism.
Let us send them a message in return by fighting these charges,
supporting those arrested, and continuing to build an educated,
unrelenting and militant movement against animal slavery.
On Behalf of the SHAC 7-- Darius Fulmer, John McGee, Jake
Conroy, Lauren Gazzola, Andy Stepanian, Kevin Jonas, and myself--
let me be the first to say that there will be no surrender.
Victory to the animals and to all of those fighting on their
behalf! Please join the campaign against HLS, and consider
contributing to the defense of those facing felonies.
For More Information on the SHAC 7 and how to get involved
in their support, please visit www.SHAC7.com