Six SHAC suspects convicted–five for “animal enterprise terrorism”

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2006:

TRENTON, New Jersey–Six individuals
associated with “direct action” animal advocacy
and the organization Stop Huntingdon Animal
Cruelty were convicted on March 2, 2006 of
criminal acts against employees of Huntingdon
Life Sciences and companies that did business
with Huntingdon.
“Convicted of conspiracy to commit animal
enterprise terrorism and interstate stalking were
Joshua Harper of Seattle, Andrew Stepanian of
Huntington, New York, and Lauren Gazzola,
Jacob Conroy and Kevin Kjonaas, who lived
together in Pinole, California,” reported John
P. Martin and Brian T. Murray for the Newhouse
News Service. “A sixth defendant, Darius
Fullmer of Hamilton, New Jersey, was found
guilty only on the conspiracy charge,” Martin
and Murray added.
All six had previous arrests in connection with animal advocacy.
Harper, 31, and Conroy, 30, were arrested in
May 1999 for allegedly interfering with an
attempt by members of the Makah tribe to kill a
grey whale in Puget Sound.

Stepanian 27, was arrested in 1999 for
chaining himself to a fur store, and served
three months in jail for allegedly throwing a
brick through a fur store window. In February
2002 Stepanian was sentenced to serve six months
in jail for allegedly resisting arrest and
obstructing justice.
Gazzola, 26, was reportedly first
arrested for anti-Huntingdon protest activity in
2002. Fullmer, 29, was arrested at a
Sept-ember 2000 protest at the Huntingdon lab in
New Jersey. Kjonaas, 28, was reportedly
arrested at least six times in two years for
protest activities in Britain.

Tested limits

“The verdict by a federal jury marked a
government victory in a trial that was as much a
test of the limits of activism as it was a
measure of criminal evidence,” Martin and Murray
Huntingdon, with labs in Britain and New
Jersey, uses about 18,000 animals per year,
according to trial testimony. Hunting-don became
a protest target in July 1997, after PETA
disclosed undercover video of alleged animal
abuse at the New Jersey facility. Procter &
Gamble, then a Huntingdon client, under boycott
by PETA, and possibly the original target of the
investigation, immediately suspended and later
discontinued all dealings with Huntingdon.
Huntingdon meanwhile sued PETA,
contending that undercover videographer Michele
Rokke violated a confidentiality clause in her
employment contract with the lab. Huntingdon
reportedly could have collected triple damages if
it won.
Said Washington Post reporter Peter
Carlson, “Huntingdon abruptly agreed to drop the
suit in return for a promise by PETA not to
infiltrate the company again for at least five
years or to publicize its charges against it.”
Carlson quoted Rokke as stating that PETA paid no financial penalties.
Started in Britain
The British SHAC campaign started in
November 1999. Protests against Huntingdon
turned violent in May 2000. Ten Hunting-don
employees’ vehicles were firebombed in the next
seven months. Flames from two of the bombings
damaged employees’ homes.
British SHAC cofounder Greg Avery in 2000
pleaded guilty to having threatened to kill a
Huntingdon employee, and served four months in
jail. In November 2001, Avery drew a year in
jail for public mischief, as did his ex-wife
Heather Avery (now Nicholson), and colleague
Natasha Dallemagne.
Huntingdon in 2005 used civil suits to
force Avery and Nicholson into bankruptcy and
seized £7,000 from the British SHAC bank account.
Nicholson was on March 3, 2006 sentenced to
serve four months in prison for violating an
Oxford Crown Court order against committing
“anti-social behavior.”
Nicholson “admitted breaching an order imposed in
January, which did not allow her to go near
sites at Oxford University, Huntington Life
Sciences, or the pharmaceutical company
Phytopharm, or to contact employees or their
families,” explained Nicola Woolcock of the
London Times.
Kjonaas, also known as “Jonas,” formed
the U.S. branch of SHAC after spending parts of
2001 and 2002 in Britain working with British
SHAC activists and other animal advocates. “He
was sent back to the U.S. when police realised
his visa had expired,” wrote Woolcock.
“Advocating obnoxiously is not a crime.
Otherwise most lawyers would be in jail,” held
Kjonaas’ attorney, Eric Schneider.
“The prosecutors in the SHAC case
acknowledged they had no proof that any of the
defendants committed acts of terrorism,”
summarized Martin and Murray, “but said
Gazzola, Conroy, and Kjonaas–who once lived
together in a house near the New Jersey
[Huntington] lab–controlled the group’s web
site, organized the U.S. campaign, and
trumpeted harassment by others.”
The SHAC web site offered personal
information about employees of Huntingdon Life
Sciences and companies that did business with
Huntingdon, including not only names,
addresses, and home telephone numbers, but also
in some cases the schools that their children
attended, the names of their teachers, and
their after-school activities.
Targeted individuals testified that they
“they were besieged by screaming protesters
outside their homes at all hours, deluged by
threatening phone calls, and were sent
pornographic magazines they had not ordered,”
summarized Wayne Parry of Associated Press. “One
woman said she received an e-mail threatening to
cut her 7-year-old son open and stuff him with
poison. A man said he was showered with glass as
people smashed all the windows of his home and
overturned his wife’s car.”
The testimony was supported by videos of
some of the home demonstrations.
Sentencing delayed
The animal enterprise terrorism charge
carries a potential sentence of up to three years
in prison, plus a fine of as much as $250,000.
The interstate stalking charge carries a
potential sentence of up to five years in prison
plus a fine of as much as $250,000.
The SHAC activists are to be sentenced on June 7.
“”I feel sorry for the animals right now
being abused and tortured inside Hunting-don Life
Sciences,” current SHAC president Pamelyn Ferdin
told reporters. “Those animals get life without
Ferdin succeeded Kjonaas as head of the
U.S. SHAC branch after the defendants were
indicted in 2004.
“For the government to say you can’t say this and
you can’t say that is going down a very scary
path toward fascism,” Ferdin testified during
the trial. “I believe that’s what the government
here is trying to do.”
“The defendants have specifically
requested that no one speak to the media about
the case,” said Andrea Lindsay of No Compromise,
“You may have seen press releases from the Animal
Liberation Press Office or quotes from Pamelyn
Ferdin. Both the ALPO and Ferdin have been asked
by the defendants not to speak to the media.
“It is imperative at this time that no
one take any actions on behalf of the
defendants,” Lindsay continued. “Acts deemed
inflammatory or illegal will do nothing but harm
the defendants at sentencing.”

Tactical ethics

Of the six defendants, Harper reportedly
most directly addressed tactical ethics in his
testimony. According to Wayne Parry of
Associated Press, Harper “testified that despite
giving speeches at college campuses calling for
direct action, he does not support everything”
done in the name of direct action. “He said he
became upset during one demonstration outside the
home of an employee of Chiron, a California
pharmaceutical company that contracted with
Huntingdon, when the target’s husband and
children drove up to the house, and protesters
started screaming at the children,” Parry wrote.
“Harper also said he was distressed by
the bombing of Chiron’s Emeryville plant in
California on August 28, 2003,” an action
claimed by “The Revolutionary Cells.”
“The Chiron bombing used an explosive
device, something that at the point of
detonation sends out shrapnel that can cause harm
or death to anyone near it,” Harper stated. “I
personally see the use of devices like that as
detrimental to us.”
The FBI is seeking a suspect named Daniel
Andreas San Diego in connection with the Chiron
bombing. An FBI agent who collected Kjonaas’
telephone records testified that Kjonaas called
the suspect several hours after the bombings.
Harper initially praised the smoke
bombings of two Seattle office towers that housed
one of Huntingdon’s insurers, he acknowledged,
but changed his mind, he testified, when he
“found out whatever chemical was used made some
people faint and see emergency medical
The prosecution presented a recording of
a speech Harper made at the University of
Washington on October 17, 2002. Discussing the
February 1, 2001 beating of Huntingdon executive
Brian Cass by several activists, including Dave
Blenkinsop, 39, who pleaded guilty and was
sentenced to serve three years in prison for the
assault, Harper said, “I think what he did was
necessary. It was better than doing nothing.”
Concluded Harper, “Tactics do matter,
but I believe the righteousness of the cause is
Blenkinsop also drew 18 months in prison
in 2001 for breaking into a guinea pig farm that
supplied animals to Huntingdon, and received a
five-and-a-half-year sentence in December 2002
for firebombing vehicles belonging to Huntingdon
workers and employees of a slaughterhouse.

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