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June/July 2005
SHAC 7 Support
By Camille Hankins


It was a sunny morning in May when I got the phone call signaling a major transition in my life. The tense voice on the other end of the line belonged to an animal rights activist friend, who had just learned that a Long Island home had been raided by the FBI and at least one activist had been arrested with a promise of more to come.

As an older activist, I grew up in a time where we truly believed that if you didn’t do anything wrong, you had no need to fear the police or any other law enforcement or government officials. That day, my comfortable Pollyanna existence came to a screeching halt. As the events surrounding the arrest of the SHAC 7 unfolded—as the FBI proceeded to grandstand for the TV-viewing public, and the smug Huntingdon Life Sciences executives gloated and issued press releases about the capture of seven dangerous domestic terrorists—I found myself becoming more jaded and skeptical.

“Hey, wait a minute!” I said to myself. “I know those activists, they aren’t terrorists, they are my friends.” The SHAC 7 are caring and compassionate people who campaign for animal rights and animal liberation and they are committed to living a life that is as cruelty free as they can make it. They are harmless—well, unless of course, you are a vivisector, who makes a killing off the blood and suffering of innocent animals at Huntingdon Life Sciences.

The SHAC 7 and the campaign they represent have been targeted primarily for one reason. It is an incredibly effective campaign that has succeeded in putting the monolithic multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical industry on the run. If a campaign can be judged by the response it receives from its intended target, the Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC) campaign is clearly hitting its mark. Huntingdon Life Sciences is hanging by its proverbial fingernails on the precipice of failure. Over $85 million in debt (a debt coming due in 2006), HLS needed a miracle to stay afloat and the FBI became their fairy godmother.

After reading what was published about the indictments, I knew it was time to do some research into the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, which provided the basis of the prosecution. Even more importantly, I needed to understand The Patriot Act, which allowed the government to build their case, by trampling on civil liberties under the guise of homeland security.

It was after completing my research that I finally understood that the case against the SHAC 7 is not about the seven individuals indicted, nor is it really about SHAC USA. It is about protecting corporate moneyed interests and silencing those who are brave enough to speak out against cruelty, corruption and corporate greed. It was at that moment I realized if the SHAC 7 were successfully prosecuted, they would be coming for me next and eventually for all of us who speak out for justice.

Defeating this bogus witch-hunt is likely the most important issue of our time. Not only is the future of activism dependent on the outcome, but the future of the countless billions of animals we advocate for depends on the outcome as well. Whenever I speak to groups of social justice advocates or animal rights activists, I am always asked one simple question… What can I do to help?

Help the SHAC 7
The trial against the SHAC 7 began on Wednesday, June 1st. Grassroots animal rights activists have vowed to make the summer of 2005 a summer that HLS will never forget. We will work hard to show the FBI and the Joint Terrorism Task Force that we will not be intimidated by their bullying. And we’ll prove to HLS executives that we are bolder and stronger despite their harassment and abuse of civil litigation. Let’s take a stand with the SHAC 7 and get active. Some folks are most comfortable writing letters and signing petitions, while others feel effective getting out on the streets with signs, banners and bullhorns. Others still, feel most effective by writing checks to provide much needed-funding. Every little bit helps.

Some ways you can help the SHAC 7 are:

• Donate to the SHAC 7 Defense Fund, which is being administered by the New Jersey Animal Rights Alliance (NJARA). Make sure you designate your contribution to the SHAC 7 Defense Fund. Send checks or money orders to: SHAC 7 c/o NJARA, PO Box 174, Englishtown, NJ 07726.

• Plan a fund-raiser—a bake sale, yard sale, film screening or dinner party—to help raise money for the SHAC 7 defense.

• Attend court house rallies and demonstrations. Trial is set to begin on Wednesday, June 1st. Keep abreast of events being planned.

• Show media support. If your forte is letter writing or telephoning, join the SHAC 7 Press Response Team. This group will be responding to news items—newspaper and magazine letters to the editor, calls to TV and radio news shows, and responding to any media issues. To join this team, e-mail: govegan@optonline.net.

• Visit the SHAC 7 website regularly to keep up with the latest news on the trial and court support activities. While you are there, sign up for the SHAC 7 support e-mail list at www.shac7.com.

• Talk to your family, your friends and your co-workers. We need to make a real effort to educate the general public about the erosion of our civil liberties.

• Finally, I am sure that if you asked any one of the SHAC 7, they would tell you that the single most important thing you can do to support them is to keep the pressure on Huntingdon Life Sciences. Let us make use of this unfortunate situation and the media attention it will garner to shine a light on the real terrorists…the ones causing the horrendous suffering and death of 500 animals every single day in the laboratories of Huntingdon Life Sciences.

Camille Hankins is a retired corporate executive and long-time animal liberation campaigner. Camille is a founding partner of Win Animal Rights (http://war-online.org).

 

 

 


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