Animal Protection > ALF Foes

Animal rights activists shouldn't be labeled as terrorists
October 20th, 2005
Megan McGowan

For quite a few years now, something insidious has slowly been occurring within our government. Those who offer different viewpoints from those in power have increasingly been labeled terrorists. When 9-11 happened, those who perpetuated it were rightly called terrorists. Yet ever since then, that word has been thrown around casually, significantly losing its meaning with each additional incorrect label. There is no way that those who fly planes into buildings—killing thousands of people—can be called the same name as those pushing for affirmative action, as a group in Michigan was recently labeled by the FBI. It should trouble all American citizens when our government returns to the Puritan days, pinning a scarlet letter on those who disagree with their policies or threaten their elite status.

Although this has been happening around the country for years, there is one particular case that is specifically disturbing. A group of non-violent activists are being charged by the federal government for terrorism for their words alone. Instead of being entitled to exercise free speech, as supposedly guaranteed by our Constitution, these young activists are being punished for it. These activists are part of a worldwide campaign called Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty, whose aim is to end the brutality that is a staple of Huntingdon Life Sciences’ daily activities. HLS is a large product-testing facility that tortures and kills at least 500 animals a day, such as mice, birds, guinea pgs, rabbits, cats, dogs and monkeys. Several times over the years this company has been caught with its workers coming in drunk, falsifying data and punching beagle puppies in the face, being so neglectful that animals have died painful deaths. And these are just the acts that are considered illegal. In addition to this, the animals are force-fed large amounts of pesticides, herbicides, household products, genetically modified organisms and other harmful products with disturbing and painful results for the animals.

Because of the inherent cruelty HLS practices, thousands of people worldwide have called for the closing of this barbaric company. In one of the most successful campaigns in recent history, this company has been brought to the brink of bankruptcy on more than one occasion because of activists’ commitment to exposing the truth about them. These caring people stage demonstrations highlighting the cruelty of this corporation, exposing companies that do business with HLS and that subsequently wish to avoid the negative publicity associated with an animal killing facility.

One specific small group of concerned people took up this cause and started a website devoted to recording the actions that these activists took to expose HLS. And it is these people, those that have caused no physical harm to anyone and are only guilty of running a website and speaking out against the abuses of HLS, that are being charged with terrorism. On May 26, 2005 at 6 a.m. these seven activists were arrested at gunpoint by FBI, ATF, Secret Service and Homeland Security agents. This after over 100 FBI agents and 11 US attorneys spent time tapping phone lines and email accounts, raiding homes and threatening friends and family with grand jury subpoenas. And all of these resources were spent, or rather wasted on these people that did the sinister act of running a website and writing letters to companies that test on animals. Beware! We all really need to fear for our safety from these people.

This should make us all seriously question the motives of those that get to do this questionable labeling. Why is it exactly that environmental and animal rights groups are labeled by the FBI as the number one domestic terrorist threat when not one person has been injured or killed in their activities? Why are these groups more dangerous than white supremacist groups that have been known to kill people or bomb abortion clinics and target abortion doctors? Why has a special Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act been passed in Congress to protect those that exploit animals from those that are opposed to such atrocities? Well the answer is actually quite simple — money. If you ever question why corporations or our government bow to these acts in a certain way, I can assure you that the majority of the time the real reason is profits. Is the reason that white supremacists are not this country’s top domestic terrorists because while they may threaten lives, they do not in effect threaten the status quo and the profits of those that benefit from it?

In this day when it is increasingly difficult to distinguish between the intentions of corporations and the intentions of our government we need to be especially on guard for the protection of the basic rights that this country was founded on. Unfortunately cases like those of the SHAC activists are becoming more and more common. To better understand this case and the implications it has for our civil liberties and the future of dissent in this country, come out to Torgersen 3100 tonight at 7 p.m. to hear two of these targeted peaceful activists share their story about their current case and what this says about the state of our so-called democracy.