Animal activists sentenced

SHAC leaders get jail time for inciting violence against Huntingdon Life Sciences

By | September 13, 2006

A federal judge has sentenced three animal rights activists to four to six years in prison and ordered them to help pay more than $1 million in restitution for inciting violence and terror against Huntingdon Life Sciences, a contract research organization in the U.S. and U.K. that has long been the target of militant animal rights groups. Three other defendants await sentencing within the next two weeks. U.S. District Court Chief Judge Anne E. Thompson in Trenton, NJ, sentenced Kevin Kjonaas, former president of Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty USA Inc. (SHAC-USA), to 72 months in jail. Lauren Gazzola, SHAC-USA's former campaign coordinator, was sentenced to 52 months, while Jacob Conroy, who served as the group's coordinator and Web site manager, got 48 months. Each will be on three years of supervised probation after serving their terms. As the group's former leader, Kjonaas was ordered to serve a minimum of 60 months in jail. SHAC-USA, as an organization, was ordered to pay about $1 million in restitution, fined $2,400, and placed on five years of probation. Because the organization is considered virtually defunct, the three defendants are required to participate in paying the restitution. "On behalf of the dozens of victims whose lives were turned upside-down by the actions of these activists, we are gratified by these sentencings," Mike Caulfield, Huntingdon Life Sciences-USA (HLS-USA) general manager, told The Scientist. Six SHAC members had been found guilty in March of various counts relating to animal enterprise terrorism, conspiracy, interstate stalking, and other crimes against employees and officers of HLS-USA in East Millstone, NJ. It was the first prosecution under the Animal Enterprise Protection Act, a 1992 law that was expanded in 2002 to equate acts of harassment and intimidation with terrorism. Joshua Harper, SHAC's West Coast coordinator, who was found guilty of two counts, is scheduled to be sentenced today, while Andrew Stepanian and Darius Fullmer, who were each found guilty of one count, will be sentenced next week. HLS victims testified their homes had been vandalized and their cars overturned. SHAC and its organizers routinely posted personal information about HLS employees on the Internet, including the names and ages of their children and where the children attended school. Defense lawyers unsuccessfully argued that the SHAC members had merely been exercising free speech. Kjonaas's lawyer, Robert Stahl, said the convictions would be appealed. SHAC claimed on a Web site it runs about the trial that the case "is the latest in an onslaught of attacks against domestic dissedents (sic) under the guise of fighting terrorism" and "is intended to pave the way for further silencing of activists involved in all issues." Jacquie Calnan, president of Americans for Medical Progress, a research advocacy group, told The Scientist that she is pleased with the sentences. "But we need additional legislation to cover future cases in which scientists, research companies, business partners, and their families can all be protected against a conspiracy of violence, such as this one was," she said. Last week, Senators James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) introduced a bill (S 3880) to expand protection for researchers by outlawing economic damage against "animal enterprises," which include organizations involved in academic and commercial research and testing. The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, as it is called, also provides a graduated scale of prison time and fines for those found guilty of harassing, intimidating, trespassing against or vandalizing the property of anyone associated with animal research. "Our bipartisan legislation will provide law enforcement the tools they need to adequately combat radical animal rights extremists who commit violent acts against innocent people because they work with animals," said Inhofe, chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, which held two hearings on the topic this year. "This is terrorism and must not be tolerated," Inhofe said in a statement last week. The new bill is a substitute for pending legislation (S 1926 and HR 4239), but has been amended to address free speech and other concerns. Similar in some ways to legislation regulating protests at abortion clinics, the new bill expressly protects such First Amendment activities as peaceful picketing, demonstrations, and "lawful boycotts" against animal enterprises. It also substitutes life imprisonment for the death penalty should an offense result in the death of an individual. Inhofe and Feinstein are seeking to streamline passage of their new bill before Congress adjourns at the end of the month. An Inhofe aide told The Scientist that staffers plan to make the House and Senate versions of the new bill identical to avoid having to reconcile differences later. Ted Agres tagres@the-scientist.com Links within this article Huntingdon Life Sciences http://www.huntingdon.com/ Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty USA http://www.shac7.com/updates.htm T. Agres, "Animal rights activists found guilty," The Scientist, March 3, 2006. http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/23185/ Animal Enterprise Protection Act of 1992 http://www.nal.usda.gov/awic/legislat/pl102346.htm The SHAC 7 http://www.shac7.com/case.htm Americans for Medical Progress www.amprogress.org Press Release: Inhofe-Feinstein Introduce Bi-Partisan Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act http://epw.senate.gov/pressitem.cfm?party=rep&id=262681 Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (Introduced in Senate) S. 1926 http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c109:s.1926: Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (Introduced in House) HR 4239 http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c109:h.r.4239:

Comments

Avatar of: Melissa Trovas

Melissa Trovas

Posts: 1

September 14, 2006

I am all for helping animals and saving them from abusive treatment. However, I am also for research involving trials on animals but in the most humane way possible. If it was not for testing on animals, we would not have the advancements we do today in the medical field. On the other hand, testing on animals should not mean abusing this while we do have the limited ability to test on humans. People with terminal conditions as well as volunteers help in trials for the medical field. Animals do not get to volunteer. This is a no win situation except in the respect that we gain more knowledge and come to understanding how biological mechanisms work with testing on animals.

September 14, 2006

As one of the many people who has suffered life-threatening adverse reactions from so-called 'safe animal-tested drugs', I applaud the ALF.\nMoreover, most of the 'new' drugs are duplicates of those already avaialble, for illnesses that could be prevented, or imaginary illnesses that Big Pharma has dreamt up. Animal testing is a relic of the dark ages, and as scientific as alchemy. The recent case of the TGN1412 trials is an example of the dangers of vivisection.\nI support the ALF and wish it every success in all that it does.\n\n
Avatar of: Paul Browne

Paul Browne

Posts: 38

September 14, 2006

The news that the SHAC activists/terrorists have been given harsh sentences is good news indeed, and should serve to show other activists that there is a line between legitimate protest and intimidation, harrassment and terrorism, a line which they must not cross. With this in mind I welcome the new laws such as the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Bill. \n\nNew laws and better law enforcement are however not enough. Scientists and their supporters must be more willing to discuss animal research in public and explain why their work is important and necessary, and also to debunk the myths and distortions spread by the antivivisectionist movement. This can be done in cooperation with Pro-research groups such as AMP, but you can also write articles and letters to newspapers, popular science journals, online forums etc.\n\nIt is common for those targeted by extremists to feel isolated by their colleagues and left to deal with the extremists on their own. This must change. The Pro-Test movement in Oxford has shown how it is possible to rally support for those threatened by AV extremists. It's time for supporters of medical research in the US to learn from Pro-Test and provide grassroots support for their colleagues by getting together and signing petitions, holding public meetings, and even going on marches. \n
Avatar of: Phil Morissey

Phil Morissey

Posts: 1

September 14, 2006

The principal at stake is whether we make decisions in society based on democratic concensus, or whether we allow a minority of violent activists determine what is legal or illegal, right or wrong, acceptable or unacceptable. \n\nFreedom of speech is one thing. The use of violence and the threat of violence to terrorise people is quite another. This form of organised crime should be treated just like any other - idealogical fervor is not an excuse. \n\nIf the the animal rights movement has a valid message, it will succeed through democratic process. If the message is false, it will fail. Through the use of violence and threats thereof, SHAC already seem to have acknowledged defeat. But it's not "Big Pharma" that deated them. It's the false message. \n\n
Avatar of: Robin

Robin

Posts: 1

September 14, 2006

It's good to see that intimidatory, violent and illegal behaviour will not be tolerated.\n\nAnimal research is one of the crucial tools (along side tissue culture, computer modelling etc) for medical progress. We all look forward to the day when it is no longer necessary, but until suitable alternatives can provide equally valid data, those scientists and researchers seeking to alleviate human pain and suffering should be protected from the (undemocratic) illegal actions of fanatical extremists - whether animal rights activists, anti-abortionists or religious fundementalists.\n\nExtremist action in the UK has opened the public's eyes regarding animal rights and medical research, resulting in grassroots support such as Pro-Test and the People's Petition. The atmosphere (media, public approval etc) has utterly transformed as the debate has become more open - come on America, stand up for your scientists!
Avatar of: Tom Richards

Tom Richards

Posts: 1

September 14, 2006

I find it somewhat summative of the debate in this field as a whole that an animal rights activist has already found it necessary to pose as a doctor and post the usual badly spelled, groundless, propagandist anti-test drivel. So, the "Big Pharma" have "dreamt [sic] up" imaginary illnesses to keep themselves in business, then? Perhaps they're desperate for money because of all the bribes they're having to pay the aliens to keep FEMA off their backs.\n\nAs ever, the anti-test movement has no argument and knows it, and so resorts to an admixture of wild unsupported claims, citations from soi-disant experts and empty threats. The sad thing is that some people are actually taken in by this nonsense.
Avatar of: Leigh Jackson

Leigh Jackson

Posts: 3

September 14, 2006

Exemplary prison sentences should help to concentrate the minds of those tempted to take the law into their own hands, in contempt of the democratic process - however imperfect.\n\nAnimal-rights is like intelligent design with terrorism. It is profoundly anti-science in its world-view.\n\nThere is a place for religion and a place for moral concern about animals, but when these or any forms of thought are used to deny and deceive about science, society must demonstrate its support for science or lose it altogether.\n\nFor human civilisation to turn its back on honest science and seek to make it a slave to serve ideological purposes, religious or secular, is a thought to make any sane person blanche.\n\nMoral concerns about animals must be given all due attention and then weighed in the balance with moral concerns about humans.\n\nScience must not be distorted or attacked because it says things that some people do not like. Moral judgements must be made by taking into account the best scientific knowledge we have, and that means taking account of the fact that animal experiments can save human lives and prevent terrible human suffering.\n\nHuman society must choose whether to put humans before other animals or not. Abusing science and scientists will not help society to make the correct moral decision. Moral concern for non-human animals is noble; but no less so is the concern for human health, human science and human democracy.
Avatar of: David Ruffieux

David Ruffieux

Posts: 1

September 15, 2006

In my view, this is not a crime to run a website calling for people to face animal abusers and tell them right in the face, I disagree with what you do, and I want everybody, your friends, your family and the rest of world to know what it is that upsets me so much about what you do in research laboratories. This is called dissent, but in the US, this has become a crime. For several years, the FBI and the government-industry complex spent countless of legal efforts, resources and tax-money to orchestrate the new McCarthy?s Witch-Hunt of the 21st century; disband, harass, intimidate those who try to disrupt today?s order of global corporate savagery. Just like they do during the Red Scare, but now it?s the Green Scare. While the US administration battles for the economic and militaristic supremacy of the country, a war campaign that Mr. Bush and his associates call ?Freedom,? the real freedom fighters are being sent to jail, in the hope that their public humiliation will send a strong signal to those who dare to oppose today?s corporate motto that property is more valuable than life, the environment, the animals. Because the SHAC campaign is such a success against senseless and cruel animal testing, the US government was compelled to bow to corporate demand for exemplary punishment. The pharmaceutical industry, their lawyers and lobbyists, may think they have won but let us make no mistake; it is just a momentary onslaught on our hard fought rights of freedom of speech and action, a temporary backlash that will be met with the force of more sophisticated actions and relentless public awareness. \n\nDavid Ruffieux, Canada\nwww.cah-research.com\n
Avatar of: Vivienne Ortega

Vivienne Ortega

Posts: 1

September 15, 2006

I really wonder how these laws work! Who are the real terrorists? The people profiting from terrorising animals and killing them are free, enjoying the sanctions of the laws, while the objectors and those informing the community of their horrific activities must be imprisoned! It makes no sense. We all want medical and surgical progress but not at this horrific expense and total abuse of non-human species.

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Mettler Toledo
Mettler Toledo
Life Technologies