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SHAC Case’s Impact on the Environmental Movement

EcoProtest | 01.01.2009 00:35 | Climate Camp 2008 | Bio-technology | Climate Chaos | Ecology | Cambridge | World

The seemingly unrelated animal rights case’s impact on eco activists!

On December 23rd 2008 4 activists were found guilty for conspiracy to blackmail contract testing company Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS) that tests food additives, household products, GMOs and medical products on animals. The campaigners were convicted for their part in SHAC (Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty) who’s stated aim is to close down the company.

After the conviction the media blamed the activists for many different unlawful and intimidating actions taken against Huntingdon and associated companies. Whatever people’s opinion of these actions and the general style and aims of the campaign there is a much wider implication for all campaigners, but specifically the environmental movement.

A recent national media article claimed a lone extremist might be planning an attack aimed at population reduction. It seems to some to indicate that NETCU (National Extremism Tactical Co-ordination Unit) might be turning it’s attention away from animal rights and on to the environmental movement. If this is indeed the situation the impact of this case is well worth taking note of.

The SHAC case seems to imply that the “organisers” of a campaign are fully responsible for everyone that shares their aims. no one is denying direct action was used by some activists against HLS and associated companies and no one is saying the defendants condemned this type of action either. However what is being said is there is no evidence that the defendants were involved in, or incited, the type of actions listed on television reports and which it seems they have been held liable for. Indeed some were still children when some of the actions took place.

So what is to be understood by this case is that a campaign is fully responsible for the actions of all its supporters. A campaign should ‘baby sit’ activists and speak out against every illegal action they make or be faced with responsibility for the other activist’s actions.

This will be a problem for networks and groups like Earth First and Climate Camp the police need only arrest the group organising the EF! gathering, the people who promote Climate Camp etc. and then hold them responsible for the actions of anyone campaigning on the same issue or using the campaign name, anyone taking action against GMOs or who attacked the power station during Climate Camp.

The police no longer need to find and arrest the person who committed the relevant action but can simply imply that the campaign is responsible especially if the campaign supports direct action or carries reports on such actions on their website.

On Monday 19th January there has been a call out for a National Anti-Vivisection Day of Action in support of the SHAC activists that are being sentenced on that day. Because of the direct relevance of this case to environmentalists I ask that regardless of your individual viewpoint on the SHAC campaign or animal testing you do something to support the freedom to campaign. This could be as simple as dedicating an already planned environmental action to the campaigners or holding a small protest.




Hide the following 10 comments

Freedom to Protest Day of Action - Mon 19th Jan

01.01.2009 03:57

I posted the original call out for the National Anti-Vivisection Day of Action(which I`ve copied below). I totally agree with the comments above. Perhaps it would have been more appropriate to call for a Freedom to Protest Day of Action, because the repercussions from the SHAC convictions could effect EVERYONE who values their freedom to campaign.

No matter what movement you`re from, no matter what your personal views are on the tactics used by some animal rights campaigners - try to IMAGINE how your campaign may come under attack in a similar way to SHAC.

Let the RESISTANCE and FIGHT BACK start on Mon 19th Jan, in solidarity with these 7 activists. Even if it`s just convincing your fellow campaigners of the need to sit up and take notice. If possible, get out on the streets and tell EVERYONE why this should concern them.

Perhaps there`s someone out there who can design a leaflet and post it here so that everyone who wants to can download and distribute it.

The authorities intend to crush the AR movement, but we`re strong, we`re NOT going to let that happen. Don`t let that happen to the environmental, anti-war etc movements either!


National Anti-Vivisection Day of Action - Mon 19th Jan

In solidarity with SHAC campaigners in court on this day for sentencing(and all other animal rights prisoners)

On Monday 19th January, 7 SHAC campaigners will be sentenced at Winchester Crown Court for conspiracy to blackmail Huntingdon Life Sciences. The 7 have done nothing more than help to co-ordinate and join peaceful protests aimed at closing down this evil hellhole. They could each potentially be sentenced to up to 14 years in prison!!

Assuming they do all receive custodial sentences(extremely likely), these convictions will bring the total number of animal rights prisoners in the UK to 17, many of them serving long term sentences. With more trials in the pipeline in 2009, the total number of prisoners of compassion is likely to soar to an all time high. The animal rights movement is clearly under attack - more laws, raids, arrests and convictions are likely. NETCU and police forces across the UK are no longer content with going after activists taking part in illegal actions. Over recent years, they have designed and implemented a range of new laws, all geared towards criminalising activists running legal campaigns and those who peacefully protest.

Please don`t just accept this co-ordinated attack on our freedom to protest - STAND UP AND FIGHT BACK!!!

Gregg, Natasha, Dan A., Heather, Gerrah, Gavin and Dan W. don`t want lots of supporters to attend their sentencing at court. What they want is for YOU to get active out on the streets or in any way you can. Demo your local lab, customer, supplier or animal breeder. Hand out leaflets outside your local Cancer Research UK or British Heart Foundation charity shop. Set up a town centre stall to raise awareness, stage a publicity stunt, go door to door leafletting or write letters to the press. (send for leaflets from SHAC, SPEAK, Uncaged, Animal Aid etc)

More and more draconian laws will NEVER stop the animal rights movement. We will NEVER stop fighting for those that can`t speak up for themselves. The SHAC 7 can`t join the demos but YOU can!!

GET UP, GET OUT AND GET ACTIVE on Monday 19th January 2009.


Overt support, covert action

01.01.2009 08:55

Whilst I agree that people should come out in public solidarity for this, whether they are single issue campaigners or big-picture activists, I think this is also another prompt to adapt to new situations.
We already know that mainstream media censors and selectively reports actions, so aiming to bring publicity to a named group through direct action seems fairly pointless, particularly if effective people are locked up as a result. Personally, I can't accept that a handful of individuals represent me (in the eyes of the State) - and can therefore be punished for something I may do.
Getting that effective action done is vital, but 'claiming' it under a banner or named group is not. While the culture of self-publicity thrives all around us, we can act differently, in secret and without publicity or praise. Surely we can be much cleverer in the way we widen movements? Trying always to keep one step ahead in terms of phone and computer security is a game that the cops know the rules of and like to play. We can be less lazy, my friends. What confuses the various forces of oppression is when we show subtlety, lateral thinking, spontaneity; when we use face-to-face communicatons with each other, when we don't claim actions, when, in spite of the lack of coverage from mainstream media, a movement grows larger and stronger.


Also: 27th Febraury 2009, London, Mass Protest!

01.01.2009 10:12

SHAC City Shakedown: 27/02/2009
SHAC City Shakedown: 27/02/2009

See for more info!

There will be a demonstration in London city centre, meeting Bank of England at 12noon (tube: Bank). The day is all about hitting HLS where it hurts: financials.

Without important financial instituations, HLS would be closed by now. The NYSE are keeping HLS open by keeping their shares on the exchange, and those investing on them are keeping them afloat on the exchange.

HLS shares are now worth next to nothing, time to give them the final push!

See you there!

mail e-mail:
- Homepage:


01.01.2009 14:23

please dont take this wrong ..i totally agree with direct action but this kind of things shud be total secret when they are done and by affinity groups_ small group of friends acting by is own hands and idioligies> so dont take this wrong but next time you want to do direct actions dont put names of open organizations ..keep it secret and underground .. UNITED WE STAND DIVIDED WE FALL ...................F. L.A.......FRENTE LIBERATION ANIMAL


To anon/F. L.A

01.01.2009 15:05

The actions were done under the banner of the ALF but the courts have held SHAC responsible without proof.


HLS attack the environment too

01.01.2009 19:28

HLS test pesticides and GMOs, artificial additives and sweeteners, industrial chemicals, chemical cleaners and so forth. This is not just a single animal rights issue humans are poisoned by pollutants passed as safe by places like HLS before we are all subjected to inhaling, eating and drinking themwithout our knowledge or consent.
HLS customers have included Bayer, Roche. Glaxo, DuPont, Union Carbide, Monsanto, Cargill, Shell to name but a few who are more than happy to defile the environment and trample over human rights i.e a right little axis of evil.
This does affect anyone who can be seen as a "leader" of any camapign as that person/s could well now face 14 years inside for something someone else has done without their knowledgeeven if that something took place years prior to the "leader"s involvement with the campaign, even if the"leader disaapproved of that action. I think we will know more after setencing and the next trial but fear that we have a rough ride ahead.

Lynn Sawyer

In response to ARA

02.01.2009 07:23

Yes, I know SHAC are having ALF stuff pinned on them and that it's a completely mad injustice. It just confirms what we already know - that activists will always face harsh injustice and repression when they become effective. But now we know their rules have changed once again, I'm just suggesting that nothing is 'claimed' at all in future. The work gets done - who cares who did it? I don't care about the personal ideology of someone who closes down an abbatoir/detention centre/airport runway. As for the individual sites publicising issue-specific actions (so uplifting to read), could they merge simply as 'Actions', which might also help widen movements and make big-picture activists of us all? Or perhaps we need to completely rethink ways of spreading good news?
Perhaps these are the things to talk about face-to-face with your trusted friends, rather than in the company of our dear cop readers on here.


The state wants actions to not be publicised

03.01.2009 00:40

The state would love for direct actions to not be publicised, because it will deny them the "oxygen of publicity". When people hear or read about direct action, it encourages them to do similar things.

The whole idea of the SHAC case is to drive a wedge between the legal and illegal sides of the movement; to polarise the movement. We need to accept that there will be a whole spectrum of people, from the totally legal to the totally illegal. It is difficult to jump from being legal to illegal; most people go through a phase of minor law-breaking first to gain confidence and experience.

Always think: what is the reason the state and the cops are doing what they do? If you think you know, take action to frustrate that goal of theirs.


'Oxygen of publicity'

03.01.2009 07:46

Those days are long gone. That oxygen was already thin, then quickly poisoned and finally strangled off altogether. What the State wants or doesn't want needs to become completely irrelevant to activists if they want to make the State an irrelevance. When did you last find a good and fair report on direct action in State media anyway? Just look at the 'selection' of news items on tv and radio made for us: U.S-centric items and entertainment.
We can find new ways of spreading information - surely we have the fire, camaraderie and imagination to do this. It means stepping out of the patterns of behaviour laid out for us. It means having only our goals and safety in mind, letting go worries about image and whether the general public will approve or dissaprove, depending on whether the State takes you seriously or not. We can think outside the bollocks.


activist circles

03.01.2009 14:45

The fact is that publishing actions encourages action even within activist circles. It also allows people to talk about the action openly, because the information is public domain. Not publishing actions would lead to a feeling nothing was happening and would lead to problems with how to ‘organise’ mass targeting of companies.