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Friends of Animals Speaks Out for New Vision

13 September 2006

As Organizers are Sentenced in New Jersey,
Friends of Animals Speaks Out for New Vision

DARIEN, Conn., 13 Sept. 2006 -- Three animal-welfare organizers received prison sentences this week, with three more people to be sentenced shortly, in a case involving Internet publicizing of a campaign against an animal testing firm, its employees, and others thought to have some connection with the firm -- including, at times, their families.

The organizers of Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty USA face years in jail over multiple charges, including interstate stalking; conspiracy to violate the Animal Enterprise Protection Act in order to put Huntingdon Life Sciences out of business, terrorize its employees and harass and intimidate related companies and their employees; and conspiracy to use a telecommunications device to abuse, threaten and harass.

"The case is a product of the converging of the 'war on terrorism' with the Internet age and the interest of companies in managing activists," said Lee Hall, legal director for Friends of Animals.

Hall authored the new book Capers in the Churchyard: Animal Rights Advocacy in the Age of Terror, which discusses impatience and anger and their roles in slowing social change, and presents a radically distinct vision.

"Many valuable critiques have emerged about the government’s willingness to single out 'animal enterprises' for special protection," said Hall, "and about the stifling of dissent. Less has been said about a positive vision for real change."

"When principled activism changes to personal odium, wherever there exists even the appearance of condoning violence against persons, valuable activism is at risk, because industry and government will dismiss important ethical messages by pointing to the tactics of a few. And that is when, most ironically, organizers against animal testing themselves may become test subjects of the legal system."

Hall added, "And whenever activism drops its educational focus and descends into a mire of personal threats, activism loses the empathy that motivates animal rights in the first place."

While the broader progressive community hesitates to support organizers perceived as unpredictably dangerous, laws protecting companies have grown steadily stricter in the U.S., and in Britain, where the Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty campaign began. Simultaneously, our traditional protections for dissent are being eroded.

The members and supporters of Friends of Animals, an international animal-advocacy group founded in 1957, oppose research and testing on any subject lacking the capacity to give meaningful consent, including nonhuman subjects.



October 2006

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