Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC)–an innovative ten-year campaign launched by animal liberation activists–has ended. While claiming success in terms of exposing Huntingdon Life Sciences animal exploitation and almost driving the company into bankruptcy, organizers with SHAC in the United Kingdom cite ongoing repression as the impetus behind calling it quits, saying that they need time to respond to the repression and to come up with new approaches and tactics.
In many ways, the SHAC campaign including its manifestations in the United States, has been one of the more innovative activist campaigns of the past decade. In light of its ending, we encourage people to check out two recent publications that attempt to document SHAC’s history and draw lessons from the SHAC campaign. The first is a zine out of Italy titled “SHAC Made History” that tells the story of the SHAC campaign. Another recent publication worth checking out is “Militant Forces Against HLS, Blackmail 3, & The SHAC Model.” The zine collects communiques from “the Militant Forces Against HLS,” information on the Blackmail 3 case, and a critical assessment of the SHAC campaign published by Crimethinc. The purpose of the is unabashedly to incite action and encourage folks to learn from the campaign.
Here’s SHAC’s statement announcing its end:
SHAC (Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty) has been the biggest and most effective grassroots animal rights campaign the world has ever seen. Since we started, thousands of people across the globe have taken up the fight to close down Europe’s largest animal testing laboratory; HLS (Huntingdon Life Sciences).
Numerous undercover investigations have revealed the horrors taking place within the lab – animals being poisoned, primates being cut open without anaesthetic, puppies being punched in the face. HLS has become synonymous with cruelty and murder.
During the past decade, compassionate and fearless people have joined SHAC and dedicated themselves to saving those animals. We’ve all played our part in this revolutionary campaign. Through determination, anger and groundbreaking new tactics, we’ve decimated the finances and reputation of the massive multinational corporation HLS. With intelligence and hard work we’ve consistently found out which companies have been working with or funding HLS and then made them a target. As a result, hundreds of companies have pulled out of dealing with the lab, including some of the world’s largest and most powerful financial institutions.
Huntingdon Life Sciences have become the most protested animal testing lab in history. Thousands of actions have taken place against them – in one year alone, almost 800 demos took place.
Alongside the legal protests carried out by SHAC activists, there have been relentless and hard hitting ALF actions carried out against HLS’ suppliers, customers and financial backers. Courageous freedom fighters have risked breaking the law to commit direct action in the name of animals. In one example, 129 rabbits were liberated from Huntingdon’s supplier Highgate Rabbit Farm. On other occasions, 14 beagle dogs were liberated from HLS’ US site and a boat belonging to a Bank of America executive (they were providing financial services to HLS) was sunk, along with the message “money means nothing – life means everything”. These are just a few examples of the hundreds of actions that have taken place. Without the bravery and creativity of these activists, all of those rabbits and dogs would have been murdered in useless experiments and Bank of America would no doubt have continued supporting HLS.
It’s through this innovative combination of SHAC’s high profile lawful protest activity and the ALF’s unconventional, but highly effective tactics, that the campaign against Huntingdon Life Sciences has been so successful.
Right now HLS is over $100 million in debt, is struggling to win or keep customers, has steadily decreasing year end profits and is at serious risk of bankruptcy. The only reason they’ve survived this long is because of the UK government.
Due to vested interests in the vivisection and pharmaceutical industries and seeing the affect animal rights campaigners were having on HLS, the UK government stepped in and saved the laboratory from closure with a multi-million pound loan and private banking and insurance facilities. The authorities have also increasingly targeted SHAC campaigners with harassment, arrests, raids and imprisonment. Since 2007 dozens of activists have been arrested, with some receiving lengthy prison sentences – in some cases, up to 11 years. Campaigners have also been given extreme bail and licence conditions to silence them from speaking out against animal testing and isolate them from the animal rights movement.
SHAC was no longer just fighting HLS; we were fighting the government – a much larger and more powerful enemy.
Despite this, SHAC continued to resist repression and campaign against HLS, raising awareness of the 70 thousand animals locked away behind the barbed wire fences.
But, after more than 10 years of organising the SHAC campaign and having sent shockwaves throughout the entire vivisection industry, our opposition has evolved. The global animal abuse and legal landscapes have changed and so it’s time for us too, to change our tactics.
With the onslaught of government repression against animal rights activists in the UK, it’s time to reassess our methods, obstacles and opponent’s weaknesses, to build up our solidarity network for activists and to start healing the affects of repression.
Although we’re announcing the closure of the SHAC campaign, it will always be an important part of our history and a reminder of the ingenuity and power of the animal rights movement. SHAC will continue to inspire activists around the world to join the struggle against animal testing and take on those who profit from abuse and exploitation.
It’s our knowledge and ability to develop and focus our tactics in the most effective ways, which will continue to make us a threat to the animal exploitation industries.
With the fires of liberation and justice burning in our hearts, we look to the future.
Now the question everyone should be asking is…
What are we going to do next?
Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty