“Sometimes We Had a Brick”
by Mike Klepfer / The Portland Radicle
Jake Conroy and Josh Harper are two former prisoners. Part of the animal rights campaign Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC), the two were engaged in an international effort against the private animal experimentation laboratory Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS), which drew activist ire after undercover video showed HLS workers abusing animals; punching beagle puppies in the face, slamming and shouting at them.
Using a decentralized approach and targeting not only the lab, but investors and key corporations that did business with HLS, the campaign nearly toppled the multimillion dollar company in 2000, before HLS received a bailout from American investment bank Stephens. Because of the success of the campaign, its tenacity and its militancy, U.S. lawmakers sympathetic to HLS and other animal-exploitation industries sought prosecution of SHAC organizers Harper, Conroy, Lauren Gazzola, Kevin Jonas, Darius Fullmer, Andrew Stepanian and John McGee, collectively the SHAC 7. With the exception of McGee, who was dropped from the case, all were charged under the Animal Enterprise Protection Act, receiving sentences between three to six years in March 2006. Stepanian spent a portion of his incarceration in a Communications Management Unit, a federal prison within a prison meant to drastically isolate prisoners and restrict their ability to communicate. For a further examination of the SHAC campaign, read Crimethinc’s “The SHAC Model: A Critical Assessment,” available online.
Conroy and Harper both spoke at the Resistance Ecology Conference at Portland State University, held from May 31 to June 2, this year. Gazzola, unable to travel to the event, made a statement via video.