California Activists Receive Jail Sentences; Anti-Stephens Protesters Receive Fines

In October, Peter Schnell, 21, and Matthew Whyte, 18, pleaded guilty to federal weapons charges. The two animal rights activists were caught in possession of 11 gallons of gasoline, matches and other paraphernalia which they planned to use to firebomb several dairy trucks in Capitola, California.

The two were sentenced in January with Schnell receiving a two-year sentence and Whyte a 14 month prison term. This was the minimum possible sentence U.S. Circuit Court Judge James Ware could have given the pair. Ware apparently thought the statements of regret that both defendants offered in court were sincere.

Meanwhile, an Arkansas court is beginning to dispose of the charges against anti-Huntingdon Life Sciences protesters who were involved in a riot-like protests against Stephens back in October organized by Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty. All of the arrested protesters were from outside of Arkansas.

Alicia Skeats, 20, of Coffeyville, Texas, and Michael Durschmind, 41, of Chicago, were convicted of misdemeanor disorderly conduct and were fined $100 and ordered to pay $100 in court costs. The fines will be deducted from a $300 cash bond each of them posted. Both Skeats and Durschmind plan to appeal their conviction.

Josh Harper plead guilty to violating a city public assembly ordinance and was fined $100 and $100 in court costs, though the fines were suspended on the recommendation of the prosecutor.


Animal rights activists get prison time. San Francisco Chronicle, January 29, 2002.

Two activists fined $100 for disorderly conduct. The Associated Press, January 26, 2002.

Animal Rights Protesters in Arkansas Show True Heart of the Movement

Surprise, surprise, surprise. Animal rights activists associated with Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty have long been extolling and promising violence, and in their big protest (if you consider 180 or so activists a major protest) against Stephens Incorporated, they tried to follow through on those promises.

Police had set up a 3 foot barrier to separate the protesters from the Stephens, Inc. building. Late in the afternoon, while one activist shouted “The Battle of Little Rock has begun” over a bullhorn, several demonstrators — pushed at the barrier and attempted to climb it, at which point police apparently used force, reportedly including stun grenades, rubber bullets, and pepper spray, to control the crowd.

Estimates of the number arrested ranged from 10 reported by an Arkansas television station two a couple dozen reported by the Associated Press.

Earlier in the day the activist, many of whom refused to give the press their last names, showed up at the homes of at least two executives of Stephens Inc. to protest. Police were well-prepared, however, with plenty of police at several points along the march and a police helicopter circling overhead (hint — maybe police in Great Britain should take a look at how police can prevent violent hooliganism while still allowing people to peacefully protest).

Animal rights activist Ryan Courtade (who still can’t make up his mind which side he’s on), quickly sent out an e-mail describing the events and, in my opinion, accurately assessing the state of the animal rights movement,

Our movement needs to take a step back and reanalyze itself. What happened today is not acceptable. If we have to force Stephen’s to drop it’s financial back [sic] of HLS from Terrorism, and Fear, then we are no better than the lowest form of life. We need Stephen’s to drop financial back because of what they are doing to animals. We need to speak in a unified voice, and not with terror.

Sure, but lets be honest — there is no animal rights movement today that is separate from this sort of violence. The handful of animal rights organizations willing to condemn these sorts of actions can be counted on one hand, while even a group like the Humane Society of the United States stoops to hiring advocates of terrorism and violence.

The problem that folks like Courtade face is that the animal rights movement already waged its nonviolent campaign and it lost big time. People do care about animal welfare, and they are certainly more aware of animal issues than they were 20 years ago, but the animal rights movement has been heard and soundly rejected by the overwhelming majority of Americans. People may disagree about the most humane way to kill a cow, but few Americans consider killing a cow for food to be inherently immoral. People may be concerned about the fate of animals used in medical research, but nobody except Ingrid Newkirk is going to go along with letting a premature infant die just to preserve the life of a calf whose lung tissue is used to make the infant’s lungs work more efficiently.

The rhetoric is stale and played out — all the animal rights movement has left are its arsonists and agitators. It’s ironic that even as SHAC should be riding high with its claimed successes at driving HLS out of business, its leaders (as well as the rest of the animal rights movement) seems to have an air of increasing desperation. Even PETA’s nutty campaigns are becoming less and less imaginative and, more importantly, the shock value is simply no longer news.

Look at the protest against Stephens. After hyping this protested practically every week on animal rights mailing lists, and garnering extensive publicity for itself, the best SHAC can do is convince a little under 200 activists to travel to Arkansas? No wonder they have to resort to intimidation and fear — without it, they’d be irrelevant.


In response to the Stephen’s demonstrations. Ryan Courtade, E-mail communication, October, 29, 2001.

Animal rights activists picket. Tim Taylor, Times Record (Fort Smith, Arkansas), October 29, 2001.

Demonstrations turn violent. KARK News 4, October 29, 2001.

Activists clash with police in Ark. Melissa Nelson, The Associated Press, October 29, 2001.

HSUS vs. the First Amendment

One of the few things I agree with the Humane Society of the United States about is that cockfighting is cruel and should be outlawed. Unfortunately, as they typically do, even in this matter the HSUS resorts to tactics that are simply wrong and ultimately leave the supporters of cockfighting look like the victims (leave it to HSUS to make cock fighters look sympathetic).

In this case the HSUS actually wants the editors of two Arkansas-based cockfighting magazines, The Feathered Warrior and The Gamecock to be prosecuted for doing nothing more than publishing their respective magazines.

HSUS’ Wayne Pacelle told the Associated Press that the two magazines should be prosecuted under a provision of the Animal Welfare Act which makes it illegal to use the mail to promote “an animal fighting venture except as performed outside the limits of the States of the United States.”

If that is indeed what the Animal Welfare Act says then it is almost certainly unconstitutional given that cockfighting is still legal in Oklahoma, Louisiana and New Mexico. In fact, I suspect the statute would be ruled unconstitutional even if it were promoting cockfights in states where the practice is illegal (Pacelle might want to brush up on his First Amendment law — if promoting illegal acts could be outlawed, many animal rights activists would wind up in jail).

Like the attempted ban on transporting chickens across state lines, this is just another example of HSUS and others being unable to muster enough support to outlaw cockfighting in the three states that still allow the practice. With that avenue cut off, HSUS attempts to limit the rights of people outside those states who are not directly involved in cockfighting but cover it in their magazines or sell supplies to those who are involved in cockfighting.


Humane Society trying to shut down Arkansas cockfighting magazines. The Associated Press, August 8, 2001.

Huntingdon Sues Activists

On April 19, Huntingdon Life Sciences announced that it was joining a lawsuit against “various animal rights organizations and affiliated individuals” who the company argues are involved in an “unlawful campaign of violence, intimidation, and harassment directed at the Company and Stephens Group of Little Rock, Arkansas, one of the Company’s significant shareholders.” Stephens Group had already filed the lawsuit against the activists, which HLS seeks to join.

HLS’s amended complaint was filed in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey and charges Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty, Voices for Animals, Animal Defense League, In Defense of Animals, and several individuals with violating state and federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) statutes. According to an HLS press release,

The suit requests injunctive relief to stop the defendants and those acting in concert with them from engaging in acts and threats of force, violence and intimidation directed at the Company, Stephens, and their respective employees, customers, shareholders and investors. It also seeks an award of monetary damages for losses incurred as a result of the defendants’ unlawful conduct.

Huntingdon’s executive chairman Andrew Baker said in the release, “This suit represents a next step in the Company’s initiatives to reign in the company of a small band of animal rights extremists who are seeking to destroy our Company and undermine the fields of scientific discovery which rely on the Company’s crucial work. Unlike the activists, who defy the law to terrorize people and entities to bow to their demands, we will seek proper redress in the US legal system.”


Huntingdon sues animal activists. Huntingdon Life Sciences, Press Release, April 19, 2001.

Quiet facet of drug industry is drawing a loud reaction. Kate Coscarelli and John P. Martin, New Jersey Star-Ledger, Apri 8, 2001.

Fund for Animals Tries to Score Points After Arkansas Shooting

In their campaign to stop hunting,
the Fund for Animals took a swipe at hunters following the tragic shooting
at a school in Jonesboro, Arkansas which left several people dead.

According to Michael Markarian,
director of campaigns for the Fund for Animals,

These children were
taught by their families to hide in tree stands or behind duck blinds,
to lure animals with calls or scents, and to shoot from ambush. They used
these exact same skills, dressed in camouflage, on the day they lured
their classmates and teachers outside with a fire alarm and shot them
from ambush.

The Fund for Animals never explains
why, if hunting causes children to be violent to other children, so few
children who hunt engage in such horrible acts of violence or why violence
predominates in urban areas where youths have little opportunity to
hunt. We would also be amiss if we didn’t note that since most animal
rights terrorists convicted of violent crimes are vegetarians, it would
logically follow that abstaining from meat leads people to a life of violence
as well.

The Fund for Animals has a 30-page
report on the horrors of children learning about hunting in their schools.