Animal Rights Activists In Jail as of January 2005

The Earth Liberation Prisoner Support Group published a helpful list of animal rights activists currently being held in jail in the United States, Great Britain, Italy and Sweden.

They are,

Great Britain

David Blenkinsop — Blenkinsop is serving a 5-and-a-half year sentence for his role in an animal rights bombing campaign; a four year sentence for his role in the 2001 assault on Huntingdon Life Sciences managing director Brian Cass; and 18 months for stealing 600 guinea pigs from a supplier.

Paul Leboutillier — currently serving 2-and-a-half years for making threatening phone calls to medical researchers, farmers and others.

Barry Dickinson — currently serving a 5 month sentence for using vehicle licensing computers to provide animal rights extremists with home addresses and other details of medical researchers.

Sarah Gisborne — currently being held while awaiting charges of conspiracy to commit criminal damage.


Sergio Maria Stefani – currently being held while awaiting trial on charges of causing criminal damage to stores in Italy and planting an incendiary device outside a butcher’s shop.


Daniel Hedqvist — currently serving a 10 month prison term for damaging the incubator at a chicken hatchery, ending the development of an estimated 55,000 eggs.

United States

Peter Schnell – currently jailed for violating terms of his probation. Schnell was sentenced in 2002 to two years in jail after pleading guilty to possession of explosive devices.

The ELP list does not included convicted animal rights terrorists who have cooperated with the government or testified against other animal rights extremists.


Earth Liberation Prisoners Support Network. January 2005.

Highlights from Peter Schnell Interview

Animal rights terrorist Peter Schnell recently gave an interview to a UK-based support group for Earth Liberation Front prisoners. Schnell, you might remember, is the genius who was arrested before he and accomplice Matthew Whyte could firebomb dairy trucks in California. They plead guilty after a police officer cruising by notice them under a lamppost putting holes into several gallon jugs of gasoline. Schnell and White plead guilty receiving 24 month and 14 month sentences respectively.

Schnell’s interview is a hodge podge of poorly thought out ideas and regular contradiction. This, for example, is what Schnell says of how the animal rights movement must succeed,

To create any type of change we need the power of the masses, thus its important to try and appeal to the masses as best we can, or at least make sure [sic] tat the invitation is always there.

Right, and torching a bunch of dairy truck was certainly going to accomplish that goal. Of course for many of these extremists, including Schnell, it’s really all about him (emphasis added),

Question: What [sic] lead you to take a more direct approach to animal liberation?

Schnell: I guess the escalation of my rage and passion got to the point where I realized that I wasn’t doing enough until I at least attempted to take such a direct approach to creating change. Granted, I guess some are not in the position to take the risk that go along with taking such a direct approach, whatever the circumstances are of their particular situation. I just realized that the temporary imprisonment that I may endure if captured, however long or short, isn’t much compared to the lifetime of suffering that the animals must endure.

Ah, cry me a river — clearly Schnell gets off on seeing himself as some sort of martyr figure, giving up everything if needs be for his pathetic cause. Not surprisingly, then, Schnell encourages others to break the law,

Amongst the other puzzle pieces that I’ve neglected to mention as necessary pieces in order for the proper connections to be made that will bring about change and bring this movement to success is directly acting on behalf of the animals or yes, breaking the law. We need those out there breaking the law to bring immediate attention to an extreme situation. We need to present that the extreme situation that the animals are in, does call for extreme measures to be taken on their behalf. I feel that breaking the law should not be looked at as inappropriate even thought it may be seen as such by the vast majority. Those willing to take a stand as the voice for the voiceless, those who value life over property, should look at the concept of breaking the law as secondary to the action itself. What can be accomplished and the necessary aspect of the action itself is what is primary. The fat that a law enacted by the state will be broken posing possible consequences should merely serve as the risk involved when taking such actions.

Peter Schnell — bring arson to the fireless.

Schnell adds that he doesn’t regret his actions, even though it landed him in prison,

Question: Do you have any regrets?

Schnell: No, I don’t have any regrets. I’ve played the night in question over in my head so many times, realizing there are things we could’ve done differently in preparing for such a night, to decrease the likelihood of our possible arrest. Although this is just the process of living your life and then learning from the mistakes you may make along your way through the course of your life, even though this is a rather extreme way of doing so. I’ve really learned so much from this experience, stemming much further than how to make such a night successful. I find myself almost thankful even, rather that regretful. Thankful, not because I’m here in prison, learning what I have and am through revelations and realizations, but because I’ve let this situation bring me to such clarity and that I’ve come to conclusions given the circumstances of the situation.

When you think about it, that was a pretty good deal that evening. Schnell didn’t actually have a chance to destroy anything and in exchange he received a nice gift-wrapped 24 month sentence. More animal rights extremists should be encouraged to find themselves in that situation.

According to Schnell, he expects to be released in late August 2003 at which time he will begin three years of supervised release.


Interview with Peter Schnell. Earth Liberation Prisoners, 2003.

Matthew Whyte Releases Statement about His Crimes

Peter Schnell, 21, and Matthew Whyte, 18, plead guilty in October 2001 to possessing unregistered firearms after the duo were caught with 11 gallons of gasoline, matches and other paraphernalia which they planned to use to firebomb dairy trucks in Capitola, California. Schnell received a 24-month sentence while Whyte received a 14-month sentence. No Compromise this month published a statement from Whyte which has to be one of the more pathetic such statements coming from animal rights terrorists.

Whyte writes,

On January 28, 2002, in San Jose Federal Court, Petey [Schnell] and myself were handed sentences of 24 and 14 months, respectively, for pleading guilty to one count of possession of unregistered firearms . . . With rise [sic] in the public’s sympathetic support for the US government’s crusade against terrorism, and with new legislation such as the Patriot Act legalizing the feds’ unwarranted snooping, taping, recording as admissible in court, it should be no surprise that animal/earth liberators are increasingly being watched in their scope. A rise in repression can only account for the rising level of resistance in effect.

This is hilarious. The Patriot Act? These boneheads were arrested on January 23, 2001. The Patriot Act did not pass Congress until October 12, 2001. The reason Schnell and Whyte were caught had nothing to do with any repressive, snooping government but rather with the fact that the two are apparently the keystone kops of animal rights terrorists, who couldn’t do anything right.

The reason these morons were caught would almost be hilarious if the charge were not so serious. Police observed the two standing under a <lamp post in the middle of the night with a cordless drill and 10 plastic milk containers. The drill had been used to punch holes in the containers and candles had been inserted in the holes.

But under a lamppost? Why didn’t these idiots just mail the police an invitation? Maybe after they get out they can go on one of those “dumbest criminal” television shows.

Whyte continues,

Petey and I were in possession of several incendiary devices when we were stopped by the police in Capitola, CA, and after an illegal search of the car, those items were found.

If you’re caught under a lamppost with the makings of a primitive incendiary device, don’t whine and moan that police don’t have probable cause to search your vehicle.

The charges were originally introduced into legislation to criminalize the civilian possession/making of sophisticated military-grade armaments. During the anti-war movement, the statute was broadened in an attempt to break the growing underground resistance, making it a federal crime to have simple, unsophisticated incendiary devices, such as we had.

Translation: as the terrorists become less sophisticated, so do their weapons of choice. The law had to be dumbed down to Whyte’s primitive bomb making skills.

Of course Whyte is just as angry with animal rights activists who think that fire bombing dairy trucks is probably not a good way to spread their message,

It disturbs me when arrogant fucks, who’ve never experienced — directly or not — the hammer of the feds, jump the gun and talk down with their internet-activist circles the choices of those who have worked to get a lower sentence. It’s a waste of breath to try and reason with the federal courts and with this genocidal and oppressive government. I trust a roomful of political reformists as far as I could throw them.

Presumably, if Whyte did try to throw a roomful of political reformists, he would make sure to seek out a lamppost from which to do so. I would really like to see Whyte explain how this “genocidal and oppressive government” nonetheless let him off with just a 14-month sentence. The last time I checked, genocide was not defined as “imprisonment lasting slightly over a year.”

But Whyte ends his ignorant ranting there. What a shame.

If you would like more of this, you could write Whyte in prison and let him know just how much you are thinking of him. His address is,

Matt Whyte
Taft Correctional Institution
PO Box 7001
Taft, CA 93268

(If you do write him, make sure you say hi for me).


Statement from Matthew Whyte. Matthew Whyte, No Compromise, April 4, 2002.

CAFT, Terrorism and Leniency for Peter Schnell

As I’ve reported before, the Coalition to Abolish the Fur Trade has in the passed faced a lawsuit from Jacques Ferber Furs which accused CAFT of violating the civil provisions of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization.

CAFT, of course, denies that it is engaged in anything illegal but in May 2000, CAFT member Joseph Bateman was sentenced to jail time for felony criminal mischief and possession of an “instrument of crime.”

Now, it turns out, that Peter Schnell — who was sentenced in January 20 two years in prison for planning to blow up dairy trucks — also is has been affiliated with CAFT and the Animal Defense League (which was also named in Ferber’s RICO lawsuit).

New Jersey’s Asbury Park Press reported on January 30 that,

For Schnell, a 1998 graduate of Ocean Township HIgh School, the California arrest was not his first. In October 1998, Schnell was one of nine anti-fur protesters arrested after they chained themselves to security scanners and blocked entrance into Macy’s at Freehold Raceway Mall, Freehold Township, during the store’s grand opening.

Although sentenced to serve time in jail, Schnell was released on house arrest after several days.

“After I completely my house arrest, I am going to be back out there fighting for the animals,” Schnell said at the time.

He was also a regular at protests organized by the Coalition to Abolish the Fur Trade and the Animal Defense League. In his high school yearbook for his senior year he is quoted a saying, “Animal Liberation has to come soon and we have to fight as hard as we possibly can to make sure this is accomplished. Please Go Vegan.”

Along with providing additional ammunition to existing and possible future lawsuits against CAFT and the Animal Defense League, this also seriously undermines the judge’s decision in Schnell’s case to give him the minimum possible sentence. Given Schnell’s previous record, the judge’s decision not to give Schnell a longer sentence is mystifying.


Dairy terror plotter gets jail. Naomi Meuller, Asbury Park Press, January 30, 2002.

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.

Two Activists Plead Guilty to Federal Weapons Charges

The San Francisco Chronicle reported this week that animal rights activists, Peter Schnell, 23, of Ocean, New Jersey, and Matthew Whyte, 18, of Orange, California, plead guilty to possessing explosive devices. Sentencing is scheduled for January 2002, with each activist facing up to three years in jail.

Schnell and Whyte were arrested at about 1 a.m. on January 23, 2001 outside the Capitola City Hall. Police found 11 one-gallon containers, along with more than 11 gallons of gasoline, matches and candles.

According to prosecutors, Schnell and Whyte agreed to a plea bargain and told prosecutors they had intended to make explosive devices as part of an Animal Liberation Front attack.


Animal rights activists enter guilty pleas. San Francisco Chronicle, October 17, 2001.