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SHAC Canada targeted by police repression


December 18 2006
Contributed by: Anonymous

Montreal, Quebec - On the morning of October 31st, local police with the help of RCMP officers raided the homes of three Montreal activists. They arrested two men in their homes and one woman where she works at a veterinary clinic. The three activists were accused of being organizers of the Montreal chapter of SHAC (Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty).

Three houses raided and twenty-one protesters arrested in the span of a month.

Montreal, Quebec - On the morning of October 31st, local police with the help of RCMP officers raided the homes of three Montreal activists. They arrested two men in their homes and one woman where she works at a veterinary clinic. The three activists were accused of being organizers of the Montreal chapter of SHAC (Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty). A total of eighteen arrests occurred at subsequent SHAC demonstrations on the 13th and 26th of November, where all involved were charged with disturbing the peace. Local media outlets are questioning how a series of peaceful demonstrations opposing animal cruelty have drawn the attention of the RCMP and have resulted in twenty-one arrests in less than a month.

SHAC is an international campaign dedicated to shutting down one of the largest animal testing laboratories in the world, Huntingdon Life Sciences. HLS is known to kill five hundred animals every day in order to test products including cosmetics, cleaning supplies, diet pills and pesticides. HLS tests on a variety of animals including dogs, cats and primates. Video evidence has been released multiple times showing researchers falsifying data, punching animals in the face, throwing beagle puppies against the wall, cutting open conscious animals without using anesthetic, and performing experiments while intoxicated. The laboratory has been investigated at least five times and has been fined by the USDA for animal abuse. The SHAC campaign is characterized by demonstrations held at the residences of high-level executives of companies that have contracts with HLS.

At a demonstration held on the 13th of November, at least six protesters claimed to be victims of police brutality. One woman who wishes to remain anonymous stated that she was struck numerous times with batons on the head, back, arm and face while she was attempting to leave the protest. "It was painful to walk for three days following the assault", she said. Additional instances of police violence occurred at a subsequent demonstration on the 26th of November where all the individuals present were arrested and charged with disturbing the peace. As the demonstrators were approaching the site of the protest, police surrounded the group and forced them against a wall wielding batons. In doing so, some were thrown to the ground, struck and held in pain compliance holds. Police misconduct also extended beyond physical violence. At least three female protesters described instances of sexual harassment. The women said they were referred to as "pop tarts" and "muffins" by a group of male officers during their detainment. While one woman was being forcibly escorted to be searched by two officers she was asked "Isn't this a sexy dance?" At a protest held on Halloween, one police officer taunted the animal rights protesters saying: "Does it count if I fuck my girlfriend wearing a fur coat?" When asked to identify himself the officer refused, stating that he had changed his nametag at least three times that night. Other officers were also witnessed removing or switching their nametags. Inappropriate police behaviour has been commonplace at the recent SHAC demonstrations in Montreal.

When the homes of the three alleged organizers of SHAC Montreal were raided, all material related to the campaign was confiscated by law enforcement, including close to five thousand dollars in donations. The three received between two and eight charges, including mischief and defamation of character, however many of the charges have been dropped. The three defendants have pled not guilty.

A demonstration on the 30th of November was organized in order to denounce the police brutality and misconduct at previous protests as well as to continue to expose the cruelty at Huntingdon Life Sciences. Between thirty and forty protesters began demonstrating at a local police station before moving to the homes of two Novartis executives. The protesters were at all times surrounded by at least fifty police officers in full riot gear and dozens of police vans. The protest dispersed without incident. Richard Leblanc, a spokesperson for SHAC Montreal, said: "This police response marks an attack on freedom of speech and the right to protest. This repression is troubling not only for animal welfare advocates, but also for anyone who believes in the right to peaceful demonstration. The campaign against HLS will not succumb to these tactics of intimidation."

For more information please contact: shaccanada@riseup.net

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SHAC Canada
514-432-1666
PO 47579
1550 rue de Maisonneuve
Montreal,QC
H3G 2V7
www.SHAC.net
www.insideHLS.com
 

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