Richard Pryor and Jennifer Lee Pryor Endorse SHAC

In early July, Richard Pryor’s wife Jennifer Lee signed a press release on behalf of the couple endorsing Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty. The press release says,

When Richard and I became of [sic] aware of SHAC’s recent run in with the FBI, Kevin [Jonas] had some concern that we might skitter away because of controversy. Now that’s comedy. We embrace this struggle on behalf of all animals; turning away is not an option. . . . And here we find ourselves, passionately committed to fighting for dogs and all animals whenever it is called — and it is called for now in this war against the insane cruelty of animal testing. Richard and I were drawn to SHAC because of its independence, its level of commitment, and because it speaks to an absolute determination inside of us to express our humanity. . .

Close down the Motherfuckers!!

Pryor has suffered from multiple sclerosis since the mid-1980s and has lent his name to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ campaign against animal testing to find treatments for the disease. In 2000, a PETA press release said that a Pryor Christmas card contained the following message,

May your heart leap with joy this holiday! And if the season finds you sharing your good fortune with others, please don’t give to charities that fund experiments on animals. A gift of goodwill should help end suffering, not cause it.

But Pryor’s daughter, Rain, recently suggested that Pryor is being manipulated by Jennifer Lee who is withholding medications that could improve his health. According to an account published in Ireland On-Line

She [Rain] tells Steppin’ Out magazine: “There are medications that could help my dad but there’s someone in his life controlling whether or not he takes those medications.”

When asked if she means Jennifer Lee, she responds, “I guess you could say that.

“Put it this way, if you’re a women who this man used to beat up for years and years and years then all of a sudden, when he’s at his sickest, sickest moment she marries him. Why? What’s the motive?”

“And now her name is on everything that has his name attached to it.”

“A long time ago he made the unfortunate choice to invite this woman back into his life with the belief that this woman was really going to help him.”

I can understand why Pryor and/or his wife would want to associate themselves with PETA and SHAC but it is interesting that those organizations would welcome that association. It says a lot that a man who is famous for his bouts of domestic violence, including a prison term for shooting up his wife’s car, is embraced by groups purporting to oppose animal abuse. Sure he slapped his wife around, but he’s really kind to his dogs (if he’d tried harder, he could have been another Kristin Kirkemo Haukeland).


Richard Pryor’s daughter attacks stepmother. Ireland On-Line, July 21, 2004.

Richard Pryor says: “Close Down the Motherfuckers!”. Press release, July 3, 2004.

Richard Pyror and Montel Williams Speak Out Against Animal Tests. Press release, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Spring 2000.

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.

California Town Places Restrictions on Protest in Response to SHAC Demonstrations

Following an April 23rd protest by Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty activists at the home of a manager at Sumitomo Corp. of America, Monrovia, California, this month an ordinance to restrict pickets and protests that target residences.

The Monrovia City Council unanimously approved the ordinance which would require protesters to be at least 300 feet from any residence that is the target of their protest. According to the Pasadena Star News, 12 residents spoke in favor of the ordinance at a special meeting of the city council, while no one spoke against the measure.

About 30 activists protested outside the home, some of them wearing masks, yelling things like “[The executive] is a sick pervert who enjoys animal abuse” through a bullhorn and chanting “We know where you sleep.”

The tactics against the executive and his family escalated after the protests. According to the Pasadena Star,

Early in the morning of May 29, someone threw a chunk of cinder block from a passing car that hit a security guard hired by Sumitomo in the face, breaking his jaw, police said.


Council may move to rein in protests. Marshall Allen, Pasadena Star-News, June 7, 2004.

Council OKs limits on protesters. Marshall Allen, Pasadena Star-News, June 8, 2004.

Z Magazine Defends Animal Rights Terrorism

The far left publication Z Magazine is one of the few outlets, other than animal rights groups and publications, to come out in support of the seven Stop Huntingdon Animal Rights activists recently charged with stalking.

Z Magazine has for years featured a pro-animal rights area on its web site, and after the arrests of the SHAC activists, Potter posted an article that claimed,

FBI agents rounded up seven American political activists from across the country Wednesday morning, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Jersey held a press conference trumpeting that “terrorists” were indicted.”

That’s right: “Terrorists.” The activists have been charged with violating the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act of 1992, which at the time garnered little public attention except from the corporations who lobbied for it. Their crime, according to the indictment, is “conspiring” to shut down Huntingdon Life Sciences, a company that tests products on animals and has been exposed multiple times for violating animal welfare laws.

That’s interesting, except there is not Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act. The 1992 law that Potter refers to is the Animal Enterprise Protection Act, and makes a federal crime of the intentional physical disruption of an animal enterprise involving interstate travel. This is similar to dozens of other laws that make federal crimes out of any number of state crimes if interstate travel is involved.

Potter continues that,

To most, this [SHAC’s tactics] is effective — albeit controversial — organizing. According to the indictment, though, it’s “terrorism” because the activists aim to cause “physical disruption to the functioning of the HLS, an animal enterprise, and intentionally damage and cause the loss of property used by HLS.”

In fact, nowhere in the indictment are the individual activists or SHAC described as terrorists or their behavior as terrorism. In fact the only allusion to terrorism in the indictment is a couple mentions of the title of a document posted to the SHAC website called “Top 20 Terror Tactics” which included, according to the indictment,

demonstrations at oneÂ’s home using a loudspeaker;

abusive graffiti, posters and stickers on oneÂ’s car and house;

invading offices and, damaging property and stealing documents;

chaining gates shut, and blocking gates;

physical assault including spraying cleaning fluid into oneÂ’s eyes;

smashing the windows of oneÂ’s house while the individualÂ’s family was at home;

flooding oneÂ’s home while the individual was away; vandalizing oneÂ’s car;

firebombing oneÂ’s car;

bomb hoaxes;

threatening telephone calls and letters including threats to kill or injure oneÂ’s partner or children;

e-mail bombs in an attempt to crash computers;

sending continuous black faxes causing fax machines to burn out;

telephone blockades by repeated dialing to prevent the use of the telephone; and

arranging for an undertaker to call to collect oneÂ’s body.

Potter pretends that SHAC activities were run-of-the-mill protests,

The group uses home demonstrations, phone and email blockades, and plenty of smart-ass, aggressive rhetoric to pressure companies to cut ties with the lab.

First, phone blockades are explicitly illegal in the United States. SHAC is hardly the first group to be charged with this.

Second, email blockades are almost certainly illegal as well.

Third, SHAC also advocated and, according to the indictment, engaged in denial of service attacks against SHAC and its customers/affiliates. DOS attacks are also clearly illegal in the United States.

Certainly Potter is free to claim that SHAC’s recommendation of “physical assault including spraying cleaning fluid into oneÂ’s eyes” is not a direct inducement that would place a target of SHAC’s campaign in reasonable fear of bodily harm, but a jury might see things differently.

The strength of this case will likely boil down to what sort of information the U.S. Attorney’s office gained from their seizure of computers used by SHAC. The indictment is pretty clear in claiming that those indicted participated in a number of illegal acts which they then would claim in the name of some other group (such as the Animal Liberation Front), using encryption programs and similar tools to try to hide their direct involvement. If they can prove that in court, perhaps through evidence gleaned from the seized computers, then the feds have probably got a pretty strong case. If all they have is what we already know publicly about SHAC, then their case will be far weaker but still certainly winnable.


Animal Rights Arrests. Will Potter, Z Magazine, May 27, 2004.

Academics In Defense of Animal Rights Terrorism

Over the past few years, I have received no small amount of criticism for this 1999 article about the spread of animal rights law courses at institutions of higher learning. That article concluded with this prediction,

Alan Ray, Harvard Law SchoolÂ’s assistant dean for academic affairs, defended the course by saying, “It took a 13th Amendment to the Constitution for us to outlaw slavery at a time when people were treated as property because of the color of their skin. There are occasions in the law for taking a very fundamental look at the treatment of other living things.”

With PrincetonÂ’s hiring of Peter Singer and Harvard’s hiring of [Steve] Wise, the day will not be too far off when our universities will find scientists on one end of campus victimized by animal rights terrorists while legal professors on the other side of campus teach students that the violent activists are simply modern day abolitionists.

In one sense I was wrong — there are no law professors, to my knowledge, who make that claim yet. However, the last five years have seen a number of professors at universities come out in support of animal rights terrorism.

The most prominent and prolific of these is the University of Texas at El Paso’s Steve Best who chairs that university’s philosophy department. Best is also affiliated with the Center on Animal Liberation Affairs and is the editor of that organization’s Animal Liberation Philosophy and Policy Journal.

In article for Satya defending animal rights terrorism, Best outlines his beliefs,

It is obvious that not all violence is justified, but it is equally obvious that not all violence is unjustified. Self-defense is one example where it is acceptable and prudent to use force against another person if necessary. Beginning in 1974, the ALF declared war against animal oppressors and the state that defends them, but the ALF did not start the conflict. It entered into a war that animal exploiters long ago began. If one party succumbs to a war initiated by another party, it employs violence in self-defense and so its actions are legitimate. Acting as proxy agents for animals who cannot defend themselves, ALF actions in principle are just.

Without getting into a detailed analysis of Best’s views, note that this is simply the same tired argument made by anti-abortion extremists only with “animals” substituted for “unborn children.” Yawn.

Later Best argues that rather than being condemned for violent acts, ALF, SHAC and other groups should be commended for showing restraint,

. . . But, as nonviolent groups (I do not define property destruction and psychological intimidation as violence), the ALF and SHAC never attack or injure human beings, however righteous their anger against animal exploiters; they attack property, not people. Given the gravity of the situation for the animals they represent, such direct action groups should not be criticized for using excessive force but rather commended for exercising moderation and restraint.

The journal Best edits runs articles like Tim Phillips’ Who is the Legally Defined Terrorist: HLS or SHAC? which argues that,

It is an Orwellian irony that violence and dangerous science are commonly considered beneficial while the resistance to this activity is considered terrorism. Delving beyond these considerations and focusing on the current government definitions unexpectedly shows that HLS is an international terrorist organization, and that SHAC is using counterterrorism in its attempt to save countless animals and protect human lives. The dominant view of animal testing fails to accommodate cases of this kind, in which animal rights activists are praiseworthy individuals an animal research is terrorism. Because animals are capable of becoming victims of terrorism and SHAC is not responsible for any illegal actions against HLS, there is no excuse for the current private and state protection of HLS. The cruel and dangerous practices HLS employs for profit warrant not only our attention, but our action as well.

Phillips is apparently a graduate student at the University of Minnesota, Morris and that institution’s public relations department chose to include the publication of Phillips’ article in its weekly bulletin highlighting the recent accomplishments of its faculty and students.


Thinking Pluralistically: A Case for Direct Action. Steve Best, Satya Magazine, April 2004.

Who is the Legally Defined Terrorist: HLS or SHAC? Tim Phillips, Animal Liberation Philosophy and Policy Journal, Issue 2, 2004.

Lawyers for Indicted SHAC Activists Complain about Bail Terms, Charges

On May 28, Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty activists Kevin Kjonaas, Lauren Gazzola and Jacob Conroy appeared before a federal judge who granted the three bail on their own recognizance.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Wayne D. Brazil did issue a two-paragraph order preventing the two from, according to the Oakland Tribune, “disseminating any personal or private information about company employees and their families, and from threatening or inducing others to threaten anyone.”

Attorney’s for the three activists, however, said the order was not clear enough and asked Brazil for further clarification as to what the three can and cannot do. Brazil said he could not do so, but that the order was clear enough. “‘Go smash up someone’s car’ — that’s inducement,” Brazil said. “Exercising your political views is not inducement . . . you know you can’t threaten people, period.”

Andrea Lindsay made a statement outside the courtroom, however, saying that,

The indictment fails to pin one criminal act on any of these defendants . . . The indictments against these animal protection activists are nothing more than a clear attack on free speech and SHAC USA will be as s rigorous in its defense as it has been in its opposition to animal cruelty.

Lindsay also claimed that SHAC’s website simply reports on acts by other animal rights activists but does not incite them.

Michael Drewniak, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office in New Jersey, said the facts would show otherwise,

Their Web site doesn’t just report — it incites harassment, intimidation and violence against individuals associated with Huntingdon. It defies logic to say they merely report things.


Lawyers for animal rights activists criticize government case. KTVU.Com, May 28, 2004.

Animal group vows to carry on. Josh Richman, Oakland Tribune, May 29, 2004.