In Case You Can’t Attend the Grassroots Animal Rights Conference

Recently the Grassroots Animal Rights Conference, originally scheduled to take place in February at New York University, had to be pushed back to May and organizers are still looking for an alternative site.

In case you can’t make the May 2005 festivities, here are some of the sessions you’re going to miss out on,

Zines, Shows, Liner Notes: Communicating Animal Liberation Through Youth Culture and Music

Andy Stepanian, Long Island Animal Defense League

In the mid-late 1990s an entire new generation of activists joined the movement and created a massive groundswell of grassroots action. These young people were recruited not by an advertising campaign or outreach program of a national group, but through powerful pro-animal influences with the hardcore music subculture. Hardcore bands filled their albums, concerts, and liner notes with forceful cries for animal liberation. At the same time youth-based grassroots groups like the various Animal Defense League chapters became regular fixtures through their information tables at hardcore shows. While this particular trend has faded a bit, many new opportunities now exist to harness music and youth culture for animal liberation. Learn how your group can tap into this youthful energy from an activist who has had great success in keeping animal issues alive in the youth culture of Long Island, NY.

Coming Out Vegetarian/Coming Out Gay: Making Alliances

Marti Kheel, Feminists for Animal Rights
Pattrice Jones, Global Hunger Alliance

The lesbian and gay movements are logical allies of the animal rights movement. In this workshop, I underline their similarities and the potential for building alliances. Using an episode from the Simpson cartoon series I show how meat dominance and male dominance are intimately intertwined. This will be a participatory workshop and people will be encouraged to share personal stories and offer strategies for making links between the two movements. Since the animal advocacy movement is often viewed as lacking in humor, one of the intentions of this workshop is to show how humor and popular culture can be used to make serious points.

Commonality of Human and Non-Human Animal Oppression

Marjorie Spiegel, author, The Dreaded Comparison
Pattrice Jones, Eastern Shore Chicken Sanctuary
Merritt Clifton, Animal People
Adam Weissman, Activism Center at Wetlands Preserve
Charles Patterson, author, Eternal Treblinka

Explore the intersections between human and nonhuman exploitation. Marjorie Spiegel will address the disturbing similarities between human and animal slavery. Pattrice Jones will explore patriarchy and its link to animal abuse and all forms of exploitation. Pattrice will also frame the discussion, making the case for why looking at intersections of exploitation matters. Citing statistical data, Merritt Clifton will demonstrate a link between animal exploitation and domestic violence. Taking this one step further, Adam Weissman will explore the similarities between the property status of children and animals, exploring John Holt’s insight that our society frames children as “love slaves” and “super pets.” Charles Patterson will draw on years of experience as a Holocaust educator to draw the link between Nazi genocide and the institutional exploitation of nonhuman animals.

Ecofeminism and Animal Liberation

Marti Kheel, Feminists for Animal Rights
Helen Matthews, Boston Ecofeminist Action
Pattrice Jones, Global Hunger Alliance

Ecofeminists believe that speciesism and sexism are so closely linked that many theorists and activists believe them to be simply two aspects of the same underlying problem. Women and animals, along with land and children, have historically been seen as the property of male heads of households. Patriarchy and pastoralism cannot be separated, because they are justified and perpetuated by the same ideologies and practices. Learn about the ideas and action strategies of action strategies of ecofeminist activists.

Sounds like fun.


Grassroots Animal Rights Conference Agenda. Accessed: 02/02/2005.

Total Liberation Tour 2004

In case you missed it, Total Liberation Tour 2004 — featuring radical bands and animal rights speakers — wrapped up in late July, but not before making a fascinating stop in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The Brigham Young University NewsNet provided a good summation of the tour,

After the first few bands the speaker, introducing himself only as Evan, spoke on the need to return to a primitive lifestyle and abandon civilization in order to experience true freedom and wildness.

Nothing could tape that, but local organizer Jakob Nyberg came close as he tried to tell the press that the tour had nothing to do with animal rights or environmental extremism. Nyberg was forced to defend the tour after Harrison David Burrow allegedly torched a BYU building the week before the concert.

The Associated Press reported,

The concert, called the “Total Liberation Tour,” was one of 10 stops
scheduled nationally to promote a variety of causes, such as animal and
minority rights.

The FBI had said that the tour would feature top leaders of both
ecoterrorist groups Animal Liberation Front and Earth Liberation Front,
which are suspected in two high-profile arson fires in Utah in the past

Nyberg, 27, who volunteered to help organize the Utah stop when he heard the
national tour was being planned, said there was no connection between the
show and the groups, and he didn’t know anyone involved in that kind of

No connection between the tour and the ALF or ELF? Hmmm…here’s a Total Liberation Tour poster:

Leslie James Pickering is an Earth Liberation Front spokesman. Andrew Stepanian and Rod Coronado, of course, are both convicted Animal Liberation Front criminals. Josh Harper is a former ALF spokesman.

Nyberg is either an idiot, a liar or both to claim that there’s no connection between the ELF/ALF and the Total Liberation 2004 tour.


Vegans, animal rights activists gather for tour. Jacob Conde, BYU NewsNet, July 15, 2004.

Organizers deny FBI claim that concert related to ecoterrorism. Associated Press.

Seven SHAC Activists Arraigned in New Jersey

On June 15, seven animal rights activists accused of interstate stalking and other crimes related to their activities against Huntingdon Life Sciences were formally arraigned in a New Jersey court. The arraignment lasted only 10 minutes, but drew a few dozen protesters and provided some interesting information into what sort of evidence the government might have against the seven.

Kevin Kjonaas, Josh Harper, Lauran Gazzola, Jacob Conroy, Darius Fullmer, John McGee, and Andrew Stepanian all plead not guilty to all charges. U.S. District Judge Mary Cooper set a tentative trial date of August 17, though that will almost certainly be pushed back at the request of the defendants’ attorneys.

One of the interesting tidbits that came out during the arraignment was that federal authorities had wiretaped and videotaped at least some of the seven activists. According to the New Jersey Star-Ledger,

Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles McKenna, who is prosecuting the case, said the evidence includes phone wiretaps and surveillance that yielded 440 cassettes and 50 videotapes.

Some of the protesters were also of interest. According to the New Jersey Star Ledger’s account,

“I came here because this is a travesty of justice,” said David Lambon, 31, of Norristown, Pa. Lambon said he was an independent activist and a college student “between schools.”

That would have been accurate if only Lambon had said he was between arrests. Lambon was one of 11 activists arrested in Pennsylvania on May 29 at a demonstration outside the home of a pharmaceutical company executive.


Animal rights activists deny targeting lab. John P. Martin and Brian T. Murray, New Jersey Star-Ledger, June 16, 2004.

Andrew Stepanian Back in Prison

Twenty-three year old animal rights activist Andrew Stepanian is back in jail, this time serving a 6-month sentence for a December 2000 incident in which he was charged with resisting arrest and obstruction of justice.

Both of those charges were misdemeanors, but since Stepanian has a habit of getting arrested every several months — according to one animal rights web site, Stepanian has been arrested 15 times. The judge apparently decided to send a message to the young activist.

Stepanian served several months in jail after being caught smashing windows at a Long Island fur store in 2000. He was arrested in 1999 after chaining himself to a fur store.

In a profile for Newsday, reporter Sean Gardiner had an amusing quote from Stepanian’s mother, Ceil Stepanian, who said,

He’s a bunny hugger. Why are people so afraid of someone who’s concerned about the animals?

I don’t think the problem is so much that Stepanian is concerned with animals as much as that he insists on acting like one in public. Somehow I doubt Ms. Stepanian would be as understanding if some hooligan smashed all the windows in her home or car.


Long Island Youth Under Attack. Spirit of Freedom, March 2002.

‘Bunny Hugger’ has a tail, too. Sean Gardiner, Newsday, February 1, 2002.

Let Andrew Stepanian Know What You Think of Him

Andrew Stepanian is an animal rights terrorist who was convicted of smashing the windows of a Long Island, New York, fur store. In typical activist faction, while he was awaiting sentencing Stepanian distributed a letter over the Internet calling on animal rights activists to engage in acts of violence and property destruction in solidarity with him (Andy Stepanian Whines About His Upcoming Sentencing).

Animal rights activists are now circulating an e-mail asking for people to write letters to Stepanian. According to the e-mail,

Thanks to your support, imprisoned activist Andrew Stepanian of the Long Island Animal Defense League has received over one hundred and fifty emailed letters, and numerous personally sent letters.

…By supporting Andy you support more than animal rights. You support our attempts to make free speech truly legal and to end the harassment and intimidation tactics the FBI uses.

Leaving aside the vandalism=free speech nonsense, why not send Andy Stepanian a letter telling him exactly how you feel about acts of terrorism? Letters to Stepanian should be sent to:

Andrew Stepanian 8/8/78
100 Center Dr.
Riverhead NY 11901

Andy Stepanian Whines About His Upcoming Sentencing

On Friday, November 17th, Andy Stepanian will be sentenced for his role in numerous Animal Liberation Front crimes committed in the Long Island, New York area. Over the weekend a letter from Stepanian circulated on several animal rights mailing lists defending his actions and urging animal rights activists to protest outside the court room at his sentencing hearing.

In 1999 Stepanian started the Long Island chapter of the Animal Defense League. This came just a year after a wave of Animal LIberation Front violence began — over thirty acts of vandalism and property destruction probably in excess of $100,000 were committed in the Long Island area in 1998 and 1999. A coordinated attack on Long Island McDonald’s restaurants in October 1999 cost tens of thousands of dollars alone.

On February 3, 2000, Stepanian and another member of the Long Island ADL, Ron Blaich, were arrested for smashing windows at a fur store in Huntington New York. Stepanian’s case went to trial and he was convicted — he currently faces 2 1/2 to 7 years in jail. So what does Stepanian have to say for himself? He and the animal rights movements are the real victims!

I am writing this [letter] to you not to ask for help, but rather to assure you that “they” (Police, FBI, Cointelpro) want you to be frightened by what is happening to me. Their goal is to scare each activist on LI [Long Island] by making an example of me by sending me to prison. If you allow them to scare you then they have started winning, they prey on fear and weakness in activist collectives.

Of course when Stepanian and other activists were running around smashing windows, vandalizing store fronts, and other criminal activities they weren’t at all trying to instill fear in their victims. They probably thought that smashing windows would contribute to the self esteem of the store’s proprietors. Leave it to terrorists to start ranting and raving about how police are trying to instill fear (it probably never occurred to Stepanian that instilling fear in lawbreakers is considered by many people to be one of the primary goals of criminal justice).

After noting that furriers in New York are planning to attend his sentencing, Stepanian rails against this “harassment.”

We (ADL) Have proposed that we return to them the same level of harassment they use against us. IF THEY TREAT US LIKE CRIMINALS, THEN WE HAVE THE DUTY TO TREAT THEM LIKE THE CRIMINALS THEY ARE! … the FBI and DA’s office are spearheading a campaign to dissolve the animal rights movement…

Stepanian could have easily avoided being treated like a criminal — all he would have had to do is simply not commit any crimes. Most people who have political and ideological disagreements don’t go around smashing each other’s windows (although property destruction directed against animal rights groups has occurred, furriers, medical researchers, and others don’t go around smashing the windows and vandalizing the exteriors of the headquarters of animal rights groups).

Ironically, contrary to Stepanian’s claim that the FBI is trying to destroy the animal rights movement, it is people like Stepanian who threaten it most. There are at least two lawsuits currently in pre-trial phrases that claim various above-ground animal rights groups are simply fronts for terrorist groups like the Animal Liberation Front. Convictions like Stepanian’s only make it more likely that a civil jury will accept that argument that groups such as the Animal Defense League are part of a larger conspiracy to destroy legitimate animal enterprises.

When a large jury award causes the animal rights movement to implode, activists shouldn’t blame the FBI or local police, but rather activists who combine their daytime legal activism with their nighttime criminal activity.


Andy Stepanian letter, October 12, 2000.