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.

Federal Agents Arrest Seven Activists in Four States

On May 26, federal agents in four states arrested seven people associated with Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty’s campaign against Huntingdon Life Sciences in the United States.

The activists arrested were Josh Harper arrested in Washington state; Kevin Kjonas (AKA “Kevin Jonas”, “Steve Shore” and “Jim Fareer”), Lauran Gazzola (AKA “Angela Jackson” and “Danielle Matthews”), and Jacob Conroy arrested in California; Darius FUllmer and John McGee arrested in New Jersey; and Andrew Stepanian arrested in New York.

The indictment of the activist charged all seven activist with,

. . . knowingly and willfully combine, conspire and agree with one another and others to use a facility in interstate and foreign commerce for the purpose of causing physical disruption to the functioning of HLS, an animal enterprise, and intentionally damage and cause the loss of property used by HLS, in an amount exceeding $10,000.

That conspiracy charge carries with it up to three years in prison and a $250,000 if convicted.

In addition, Kjonas, Gazzola and Conroy as well as Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty itself were charged with three counts each of interstate stalking and one count each of conspiracy to engage in interstate stalking. Each of those charges carries a sentence of up to five years in jail and a $250,000 fine if convicted.

SHAC’s response was predictable,

Osama Bin Laden must be feeling pretty comfortable right now, as the FBI and the United States Government have shown their investigative hand and it is disturbingly pathetic. Ironically on the same day John Ashcroft held a press conference to warn the country of impending terrorist attacks coming this summer (a warning based on “intelligence” the AG has now had to backtrack from) – the FBI set about tackling their number one priority, the capture of those menacing animal rights activists.

The reader can imagine just about every criminal enterprise from the mob to the local petty bank robber making this argument — “but judge, why waste time prosecuting me when they should be out tracking down Osama bin Laden.”

SHAC also had some hilarious whining about the means of their arrest,

With a seemingly unlimited budget the FBI did spare no expense. To arrest three of the seven supposed SHAC USA volunteers, 15 agents from the FBI, Secret Service, and even US Air Marshals (with their chopper over head) stormed into a home at 6 AM with guns drawn. They were, after all, apprehending people suspected of operating a website, and you never know what sort of floppy disk such thugs could be concealing as a weapon.

Excellent. SHAC might be surprised that it doesn’t require an unlimited budget to have 15 agents execute arrests in four separate states. It is amusing, though, to see the folks who advocate and support the most vile sort of threats and intimidation tactics upset because agents serving a lawful warrant “stormed into a home at 6 AM.” Don’t worry too much for them — hopefully most of those arrested will soon reside in prison cells and not have to worry about anyone storming their homes at 6 AM.

And just to make sure it got some publicity out of the matter, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals was quick to tell any media outlet who would listen that it doesn’t see anything wrong with what SHAC does and that these arrests are part of a government crackdown on mainstream activism.

The New Jersey Star Ledger noted that,

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, however, questioned yesterday whether legitimate activism was under attack.

“Some of the names being bandied about in this instance are longtime activists and well respected,” said PETA spokeswoman Lisa Lange, referring to the SHAC indictment.

Well, at least its good to get Lange on the record. After all of this nonsense of late from PETA that it doesn’t support or condone animal rights terrorism, it’s nice to see them be up front about their admiration for these folks.

The full text of the indictment against the SHAC activists can be read here.


Animal rights activists charged in actions against testing lab. Associated Press, May 26, 2004.

FBI targets ‘terrorism’ by animal, eco-activists. Brian Murray, New Jersey Star-Ledger, May 27, 2004.

Another RICO Lawsuit Filed

In the first week of August,
a group of New Jersey furriers filed a lawsuit accusing the Animal Defense League of Jersey, the Animal Liberation Front and others of violating
federal racketeering laws. The lawsuit alleges that the ADL was part of
a conspiracy to illegally impair the operation of a legitimate business.

For its part, the ADL took
the odd tactic of putting itself on record in support of some acts of
violence against animal enterprises. ADL spokesman Darius Fuller told
the New Jersey Star-Ledger that although his group is distinct from the
ALF, physical destruction of property is sometimes a necessary act. “It’s
just a simple question of which is more important, life or property,”
Fuller said. Fuller also told the Star-Ledger that his group has regular
contact with the ALF.

Somebody give Fuller a little
more rope — he is on a roll.

Meanwhile, the Animal Defense
League of Pennsylvania and the Coalition to Abolish the Fur Trade announced
a conference in Philadelphia on legal challenges against animal rights
groups and how to respond to them. In a joint press release the two groups,
who were named as defendants in another Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization lawsuit filed by Jacques Ferber, claimed “Jacques Ferber Furs is abusing this RICO suit in an attempt
to achieve an injunction against CAFT and ADL. Yet another step
taken to drive off those fighting to end oppression. Who will be next?”

One of the interesting things
to note about the press releases issued from the various animal rights
groups about these RICO lawsuits is that although lawsuits against pro-life
activists and groups really set the precedent for going after protesters
who express support for illegal actions, none of the animal rights groups
has referenced this precedent much less given an opinion on the application
of the law in those cases. I, for one, would like to know if CAFT and
others believe anti-abortion protesters were also the targets of “oppression.”