SHAC – A Campaign That Made History (2013 – Italy)
I am happy to see that new generations of activists are discussing the successes and failures of the Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty campaign with an eye towards applying those lesson to the ongoing struggle for animal liberation. This attractive booklet was originally released in Italy under the name “SHAC: ha fatto storia” and focuses on the legal repression, past and present, experienced by those working to close Huntingdon Life Sciences. The english translation is not perfect, but makes for a good overview of the FBI’s “Operation Trailmix” in the US and INTERPOL’s “Operation Achilles” in Europe.
The collective that made this booklet has a blog at shacmadehistory.noblogs.org. I would love to see them continue to dissect the international repression against SHAC and also support the victims of the same.
The Hillgrove Campaign Newsletter – (1997- 1999. Oxford, England)
Reading these newsletters gives me a feeling of elation that is rare in our work as animal liberationists. After witnessing the worst abuses against our non-human neighbors, most of us are left with a sense of deep despair. In the instance of the Hillgrove Campaign, however, those abuses were countered and ultimately stopped in a most satisfying way!
These newsletters offer some of the best documentation of one of our movements most watershed moments. Each issue shows the escalation of the campaign, the police response, and the slow downfall of Farmer Chris Brown’s cat breeding business. No punches are pulled, and from blockades, to mass demos, to the beating of Chris Brown by two elderly women, the newsletter shows step by step how the campaign was won.
While this makes for invigorating reading, there are also disappointing, even racist material in the newsletters. One example is Dr. Vernon Cole’s comparing being stopped by police during a lecture to the sort of harassment and brutality faced by black youth in Britain. A well meaning mistake possibly, but a comparison that misses the mark by an offensive distance none-the-less.
As you can see, we are missing issue #2 and #10! Please get in touch if you are in possession of either issue by clicking HERE.
No Compromise #29-30 (2006. Santa Cruz / San Francisco, CA)
The early days of my activism were so exciting. After a lifetime of feeling powerless I suddenly discovered that there was a community dedicated to fighting the good fight. Its members were in every major city and many smaller ones, and sometimes not living in any city at all, but in trees and encampments. The people involved were empowered to act for themselves in order to create a better world, and had abandoned all the false hope of political parties and their dead politics. Words meant little, action was what counted, and the sky was the limit. The internet was not yet in wide use, and thank goodness! That meant that we met each other in conference rooms, in squats, on the streets, and sometimes on the pages of No Compromise magazine.
No Compromise shaped who I am today. Each new issue contained articles that helped me and thousands of others to evolve our own style of resistance, and as our experience grew we were able to share our stories in the pages of the magazine.
After 30 issues, the steering committee of No Compromise decided to stop publishing in 2006. Their decision could not have come at a worse time. With the SHAC website and newsletter killed by the convictions of the SHAC 7, Bite Back being published only sporadically and with a limited focus, and the Earth First! Journal mired in its “Confronting Oppression Within” drama, the sudden absence of No Compromise meant that the primary sources for radical animal liberation news, opinion, and strategy were the twin sewers of online social networks and the North American Animal Liberation Press Office. These were dark times for our movement, and we are only just beginning to recover.
The final issues of No Compromise were the best of the series, though! I was in prison when issue 30 was released, and it felt electric in my hands. I read it over and over, alternately laughing and crying. As I was putting this post together I decided to pull out that print copy. It gave me the same sense of awe I had when I read those first issues. More than that, it reminded me that there is still a community of people capable of changing the world through compassionate direct action and mutual aid. And you know what? We are going to win!
(The complete set of all past issues of No Compromise can be found HERE)
No Compromise 23-26 (2004, Santa Cruz / San Francisco, CA)
One of the lessons that archiving old animal liberation publications has taught me is that the most extreme actions have rarely produced much in the way of results for animals. A public that already sees veganism as odd might still see the value of rescuing animals from a laboratory, but will never support a car bombing. When innocents are injured, or when murder was the goal, the backlash starts to creep into our own ranks, and as we fracture law enforcement and industry groups take advantage. In the end, I can think of no bombing (or contamination, or grave robbing, etc.) which advanced the cause of animal rights more than it harmed it. This is not to say that bombings and the like could never be successful. At later stages of many revolutionary struggles, when the majority of the public supports the cause, bombs can clear away in one night what years of protest could not. While a movement is in its infancy, however, it could be argued that more often than not bombs blow up in our faces.
And so it was in 2004 when a group calling itself the Revolutionary Cells Animal Liberation Brigade carried out two bombings of HLS related targets in California. The movement was left to make lemonade from truly shitty lemons, and No Compromise did their best to mitigate the harm of the actions while keeping activists focused on the real enemy.
The year continued with the indictment of the SHAC 7, the emergence of Austria as a leader in the movement, and some exciting open rescues. Sarahjane Blum and Ryan Shapiro’s organization, GourmetCruelty.com, carried out one such operation that piqued public interest and eventually resulted in a sympathetic program on Animal Planet. Elsewhere Gina Lynn was imprisoned for defying the Seattle grand jury, Billy Cottrell was arrested for a massive SUV dealership arson, and the Universtiy of Iowa was treated to the most sophisticated lab raid to occur since the early 90s.
Every time we post a year of No Compromise we say the same thing: that this is essential reading for those who wish to understand the recent history of our movement. This posting is no exception. No Compromise was the best AR publication of its era, and 2004 saw the publication refining its strengths and providing their readers with four of the best issues yet.
No Compromise #18-19 (2001-2002. Santa Cruz, CA.)
If you have been following our posting of the complete No Compromise than you have read along as the new, 1990s militant grassroots took its first steps, stumbling along an exciting, and at times error filled path towards animal liberation. Those early years saw a lot of dedication and courage, but sadly little in the way of new tactics or intelligent planning.
That all changed in 2001 with the arrival of the anti-HLS campaign in the United States. The focus suddenly shifted from scattershot regional targeting to a single, international pressure point and the results were encouraging.
2001 wasn’t just about the fight against Huntingdon. The tactics developing in that one small struggle were inspiring activists globally to step up the fight against all areas of animal abuse, and sadly, some of our friends ended up in prison as a result. The support of these jailed comrades was inspiring, but our movement was dealt a terrible blow as Barry Horne died on Hungerstrike. That was not the only tragedy we would witness in these 12 months. Jeff Luers was sentenced to nearly 23 years in prison for an act of sabotage which harmed no one. Animal liberationists had been a strong force in the growing movement against globalization of capitalism, and at the 2001 G8 summit we watched as protestors and media were brutalized and bloodied in the lead up to the police murder of Carlo Giuliani. And of course, non-humans continued to be slaughtered in endless, unfathomable numbers. The tone of these two issues of No Compromise may have been optimistic, even cocky, but those of us on the ground knew that times were tough and getting tougher.
A Cat In Hell’s Chance (2002, London, England.)
In the annals of animal rights history there are but a handful of legendary campaigns still talked about by activists of all ages. The story of Hill Grove cat farm is one such fabled war, and with good reason. Hill Grove was a watershed moment for the movement and eventually led to the founding of the Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC) campaign. The battles that raged there included the beating and intentional poisoning of protesters, attacks by company employees, systematic police brutality, a security bill that ran into the millions of British pounds, and eventual victory for the cats being imprisoned in farmer Chris Brown’s compound.
A Cat in Hell’s Chance attempts to document this significant stage in our movement’s development. While the book is in need of a better editor, and is at times disjointed, it does cover all of the major events involved. Including all the way back to the first protests and raids against Hill Grove in the 1980s. Lovers of animal rights history, and young warriors curious about the successful tactics developed by earlier generations, would do well to read this long out of print book.
UPDATE: If you would like a physical copy of this book, it is available through the New Zealand Anti-Vivisection Society and can be found HERE.