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 Â“intelligenceÂ” the AG has now had to backtrack from) Â– 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.