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Bear Witness To These Crimes…And Act As One, Again
As a past spokesperson for SHAC USA (Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty), I marched beside activists with common purpose: To close Huntingdon Life Sciences — one of the world’s largest contract research labs. HLS annually kills some 180,000 animals to test pesticides, fertilizers, cleaners, cosmetics, sweeteners, drugs…anything they’re hired to screen.

SHAC USA formed in 2001 to shut down HLS. They targeted HLS customers, suppliers and financiers in an unrelenting campaign of letters, emails, faxes and unprecedented national/local protests. In 2006, SHAC USA leaders were imprisoned for the crime of free speech under the Animal Enterprise Protection Act — an obscure law to protect animal industry profits. Nothing within the animal rights movement has equaled the unity, clarity and presence of SHAC USA. But I believe we can find that energy again. Please watch this video, share it…and then rise up.

Brenda Shoss, Kinship Circle director / former SHAC USA spokesperson

SEIGE ON GREEN HILL — This video takes your breath away. ALF activists charge barricades into the Green Hill compound to bring out beagles destined for experimentation. In broad daylight, amid tears of joy.

LIFE ON THE OUTSIDE / Liberi Tutti i Beagles di Green Hill — Lucky Green Hill pups get press, veterinary care, and lots of love.

Liberazione Beagles, Immagini che fanno tenerezza. More links: Save The Dogs Of Green Hill; Occupy Green Hill; Occupy For Animals - Green Hill; Animal Amnessty

Kinship Circle’s Brenda Shoss Speaks About Current State Of Anti-HLS Campaign, For Activist Gathering In Rome, Italy

Brenda was asked to speak for a SMASH Vivisection information evening with videos and talks about the campaign to close Huntingdon Life Sciences, among the world’s largest animal testing laboratories. With facilities in England and New Jersy, HLS annually kills some 180,000 animals to test pesticides, fertilizers, household goods, cosmetics, sweeteners, pharmaceuticals…for any company that contracts them to screen a product.

Activist Tino Verducci organized the event in conjunction with the Rewild Club and Coordinamento Antispecista — an Italian group that has drawn 7,000 participants to protest animal circuses and 10,000 for a demonstration against Green Hill, a commercial breeder that supplies animals for vivisection.

Last spring, cheers were heard around the world when Italian activists seized 40 dogs in a daylight raid of Green Hill’s compound in the village of Montichiari in Brescia, Italy. The lucky pups were spared from life in an experimentation lab. Brenda was thrilled to speak with activists from such a vibrant animal rights community.

During Brenda's 1/22/13 talk, a translator interpreted her words for the audience. But no translation was needed for her movie, The Campaign That Changed Everything. Graphic images of cruelty inside Huntingdon, followed by U.S. activists in full protest mode, spoke for themselves.

SHAC UK, the global campaign to shut down HLS, was unable to sponsor this event due to legal issues in Italy since 2005. Anti-HLS activists face similar government suppression worldwide. In fact, some organizers behind the 1/22 gathering were themselves raided and arrested for conspiracy to commit SOCPA 145 & 146 in relation to SHAC between Oct 2011-June 2012, apparently covering 25 separate "incidents." Out on bail till April, they are barred from speaking to each other or any form of protest against SHAC targets.

Cops seized their phones, laptops, storage devices, cameras, etc. in a raid reminiscent of the SHAC 7 witch hunt, along with many more activist invasions since then. Brenda discussed how the government-business stronghold on anti-HLS activists has stalled (but not stopped) SHAC activity…


In 1999, Brenda Shoss founded Kinship Circle, a nonprofit focused in: Animal Advocacy, Education, and Disaster Rescue. Kinship Circle is a voice for animals stranded in disasters and for ALL ANIMALS who suffer at the hands of human greed and cruelty. The group rallies people worldwide in action campaigns and produces education materials for public use.

Brenda is a former SHAC USA spokesperson, whose anti-HLS efforts include action campaigns, literature and nationwide presentations. Brenda has spoken about animal experimentation at universities, ethical societies and nonprofits… and won’t shut up until all research laboratories are animal-free.


Inside/Out: Diary of Madness follows protesters outside and undercover investigators inside Huntingdon Life Sciences — one of the world’s largest contract research labs. The booklet was written from scribbled notes during the Oct 29, 2001 SHAC USA protest against Stephens Inc. in Little Rock, AR.

At that time, Stephens had given HLS a $33 million dollar "survival loan" and maintained at least 45.6 million shares in HLS stock. They were Huntingdon’s biggest financial supporter, allowing the unstable research lab to kill 500 animals a day.

INSIDE refers to the daily violence to animals at Huntingdon Life Sciences. OUTSIDE is about how forcefully animal-abuse industries defend their blood-money. It also depicts lawyers, law enforcers and others who use extreme measures to suppress activists.
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State Of Anti-HLS Campaign, Then And Now
Brenda Shoss transcript from activist gathering in Rome, Italy on Jan 22, 2013

I will never forget the way I felt the first time I saw images from inside HLS. Like many animal advocates — it pushed me to the next level. Though I directed my own nonprofit for animals, Kinship Circle, I was so moved by this intensity of animal abuse, I became a SHAC spokesperson.

I traveled the country for huge national demos against HLS investors, customers, suppliers, and HLS itself. And I came to know Kevin, Lauren, Jake and others who led the SHAC-USA campaign. Unbelievably intelligent, creative, passionate…funny (Jake could get me to laugh harder than anyone) and devoted. Just really good people.

SHAC USA’s first national event took place in Little Rock, AR to protest Huntingdon’s biggest investor at that time, Stephens Inc. Stephens had given HLS a $33 million dollar "survival loan" and maintained some 45.6 million shares in HLS stock. They were Huntingdon’s biggest financial supporter, allowing the unstable research lab to kill 500 animals a day.

The entire time I was there, I scribbled into a notebook, writing down everything I saw and did. It was from these notes that I wrote Inside/Out: Diary of Madness. I want to read you a small excerpt that captures the spirit of that protest.

I think, "What provokes direct action?" I know, in my heart, I want to do more. I am entering the next stage as an activist. But, I have trouble processing this new energy. What fuels me? Why am I here in Little Rock? At night, before sleep, I wonder how each bleeding, vomiting puppy, pig or monkey inside HLS will find comfort on the cold, hard floor. I wonder how these animals will bear another day of poison poured down tubes lodged in their stomachs. How will they face more smashed bones, severed limbs and darkness? I wonder if this will be the morning some will finally die. I realize it is my obligation to see them, know them and honor their wretched lives by doing something.

By 8:00 p.m., Michele Rokke and Matt Rossell address the group. Michele worked as an undercover investigator for PETA, reporting to her job at HLS in New Jersey for nearly one year. There, she secretly videotaped animal cruelty and scientific fraud as her fellow workers tortured animals, falsified research data and regularly broke protocol.

Michele must choose her words carefully because of a court gag order after her findings went public. But after her talk, I ask her: In moments when no one was around, did you stroke the bellies of pups so sick they could barely move? Did you hold the beagles sequestered in the radioactive unit, their small bodies burning with ghastly substances?

I know, from her diaries, that even the sickest dogs struggled to the edge of their cages to meet her hands, to press against her for a moment’s warmth. I am struck by the extraordinary fact that we inhabit this planet with people who not only do this to animals, but who laugh and joke as they do it.

It was really these early gut feelings that drove me to invest both Kinship Circle and myself in the SHAC campaign.

We protested in: Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, DC… and New Jersey, of course, where HLS is. And even in St. Louis, MO, headquarters for then HLS customer Forrest Pharmaceuticals. Kevin and Jake drove one of those TV trucks here, with a large screen rigged on its side to broadcast HLS animal torture.

A highlight was the gathering in New Jersey to un-celebrate Huntingdon's 50-year anniversary. I spoke on a panel with:
  • Chris DeRose - Last Chance for Animals
  • Rod Coronado - Animal Liberation Front volunteer and political prisoner
  • Robin Webb - UK Animal Liberation Front spokesperson from the UK
  • And even Bobby Seale - a founding chairman of the civil rights group, the Black Panthers
    SHAC was ahead of its time, in terms of finding commonality between different social justice movements and pooling our strengths to fight all forms of oppression.

I’m sad to say that I have yet to see any animal rights campaign come close to SHAC's

Nowadays, it’s hard to pull activists away from their Internet petitions and Facebook. BUT I DO THINK WE CAN GET IT BACK.

If you want to bring something back, you must first look at what made it work, as well as where mistakes were made.

    People will board planes to go to national conferences, where they sit in chairs and listen to famous leaders in the animal rights movement talk about being famous leaders in the animal rights movement. But since the SHAC 7 case, I have not seen large numbers of people get on planes for the sole purpose of traveling somewhere to march, scream, hold signs and PROTEST.

    I have not seen the type national protests that SHAC organized, where people converged from everywhere with a positive feeling, like "we can win this thing." Those protests did a lot to make you feel connected to other activists — and inspire you to keep going in the fight for animal liberation across many different animal cruelty fronts.

    SHAC USA were great organizers. If they hadn’t been so passionate about animals, they could have been event planners.

    Their demos seemed larger then life:
    • There was music, the guys beating sticks on buckets for drums...
    • Lots of bullhorn chants...ones I'd never heard before
    • Huge colorful signs and banners to carry

    • And creative ideas, if sometimes a little corny: We once all wore white tee shirts and laid in the grass outside HLS U.S. headquarters to spell the words: "STOP HLS" and the shape of a beagle puppy head. Kevin and Jake had arranged for a pilot to fly his private plane overhead and take photos for the press.

    • The huge gatherings were never just protests, but rallies — with incredible speakers such as undercover investigators inside HLS; direct action stars; figures from other social justice movements.

    So the real point here is that SHAC USA had strong, centralized and charismatic leadership.

    • Constant local and national protests: Always an action event somewhere in the U.S.

    • Alerts targeting HLS customers, suppliers, financiers: On SHAC’s website, you could always find current HLS targets, their contact information, and why you should send them letters, emails, faxes. They also sent these alert to a large email list. So in addition to the protests, there was constant pressure on HLS associates to dump the lab.

      Kinship Circle itself played a role in these type campaigns itself. Sample-letter alerts are something we specialize in. I wrote quite a few to HLS targets. I recall bringing huge stacks of printed out letters to SHAC’s national gatherings, for activists to use. That was back before web petitions when people actually mailed or faxed protest letters.

    • Literature, posters, banners, resources: Somehow SHAC USA managed to acquire literature and posters by the hundreds of thousands — so that activists everywhere could use the same words, the same photos, the same message.

      500 animals died today and other phrases became slogans to represent the campaign. Everyone had hard-hitting, professional leaflets to hand out and signs to carry.

      I remember giving a woman the signature SHAC leaflet with the mutilated beagle. She looked at it and began to cry. All she wanted to know was how she could help.

    This CONSISTENCY is what makes marketing campaigns work in the world of advertising, and SHAC understood that.

    I think one of the reasons SHAC USA got people together for so many real-life events is that all of this took place before WEB PETITIONS took over our movement.

    While Internet and social media connect us in unprecedented ways, they can also DIVIDE US.

    We see Internet activists who think taking action is only about how many "submit" buttons they hit on a web petition each day. They even complain when asked to copy/paste and send a letter from their own email program — let alone show up in person for live protests. Since I began Kinship Circle, activists complain more. They send hostile emails. They want easier and easier ways to take action. Most automated petitions are poorly written and not well researched…but I won’t get into this much more, because that’s a whole other talk!

    What’s really missing in Internet activism is the emotional connection with other activists:
    -  The camaraderie, a sense of belonging.
    -  The feeling of being in the trenches together for a higher purpose.

    I do believe the animal rights movement in general needs to find a better balance between Internet action and live action.

There are more reasons why SHAC USA had such a strong impact… But I’ll end with another topic that’s important to think about.

In Inside/Out: Diary of Madness, INSIDE refers to the daily violence to animals at Huntingdon Life Sciences. OUTSIDE reflects how forcefully animal-abuse industries defend their blood-money. It also depicts law enforcers and others who use extreme measures to suppress activists. I’d like to share one more excerpt from Inside/Out that describes violent police over-reaction. In fact, when I see footage from the Little Rock protest against HLS investor Stephens, Inc, it looks like a war zone.

The first police brutality occurs outside Stephens’ glass high-rise, where protesters press against barricades until they topple over. When protesters step over the now invisible blockade, police erupt like an overblown balloon. They instantly draw pepper-spray canisters and tear gas as if cowboys in an Old West duel. They spray two people in the face. An ear- shattering explosion goes off. I’m sure it is a gun, but am later told it is a "sound bomb." An unfortunate newscaster is knocked down and pepper-sprayed.

As I survey the scene, I observe these snapshots: A young girl on the ground, sobbing and gasping from inhaled pepper spray. A young man’s face is a watery red mix of fear and anger as he struggles to flush the chemicals out of his eyes.

I see Josh Harper on the ground; a brutal red welt runs down his cheek. When Josh crossed the police line, an officer says: "Hit Harper." Another shoots a rubber bullet into his face at close range. One activist is shot in the eye and rushed to a local hospital.

The second wave of hostility occurs on Louisiana Street in front of Stephens garage. It is almost 5:00. Activists pound drum rhythms and chant: "Your Money. Your Fault!" We spill over the narrow sidewalk onto the alley, nearly colliding with gas-masked cops atop horses. Some rear their horses up in a vertical threat and others speed toward us.

"Horses are not weapons," we yell in unison. A few activists cross over the police line to sit on the pavement. They link arms. More join them. That is when the officers pretty much lose it. I watch as they drag off activists, hoisting them off the ground like weightless dolls. All are limp, in an act of passive resistance.

Then the cops really charge us. But this time I have no open space before me, only a brick wall. Suddenly I am enveloped in a tangle of arms and legs. I need to run to the edge. I cannot think. I cannot see. I am separated from my friend Janet. I am almost at the outer rim when a brown-haired policeman knocks me to the ground.

"What are you doing," I holler. "I am a mother from St. Louis with a 1-year-old son. I have no weapons. I am here to help animals. Are you insane?"

Perhaps, in that moment, he was. But somewhere in the pause between my words and his response, a glimmer of awareness stirs. He seems baffled to be here. He cannot comprehend why he pushed me down, and stammers, "Ah, we thought someone was pulling something out…"

Yes, I think, most likely a flyer with a blood-soaked beagle, compliments of Huntingdon Life Sciences. For we are armed with literature, nothing more.

And I see, with spectacular clarity, the mindless cycle of violence.

Whatever people think of SHAC, none can deny its sheer force and ability to bring people together for a common cause.

Under society's accepted definition, "real" violence involves bodily harm to another human being.
  • So what about LOUD NOISE, bullhorns, screaming, chants at commercial sites or in home demos? Is this violence?

  • Is crossing a police line, with possible arrest for your act of civil disobedience, violence?

  • Is entering an office uninvited, to shout on a bullhorn and distribute literature, violence?

  • Is yelling into the face of someone linked to animal torture violence?

  • And even the most extreme forms of direct action such as property damage / breaking and entering / stealing — such as spray-painting a message, wire-cutting a fence or cage, taking an abused animal… Are these really forms of violence?

While the last examples are ILLEGAL, the first are protected free speech in most cases. All have been used in some form or another in every social justice movement throughout history.

In fact, DIRECT ACTION tactics can even make MAINSTREAM ACTIVISM (letter writing, peaceful protests, leafleting, education, etc.) seem so benign and logical, people become more receptive to it. Think Martin Luther King vs. the Black Panthers at each end of the civil rights movement:
-  Both serve a purpose in advancement of a cause.
-  Both give victims a voice and contribute to new cultural mindsets and laws.

And sadly, DIRECT ACTION as relates to animals is sometimes the ONLY way to stop massive, intense suffering immediately.

Your own level of activism is a personal decision. But we animal rights activists must stop bad-mouthing each other!
  • Some will always write letters, sign petitions, peacefully march and leaflet…
  • Others are willing to engage in civil disobedience.
  • A select few work undercover inside animal-abuse businesses to gain evidence.
  • And a smaller number, perhaps our bravest activists, risk arrest by freeing animals from research labs, factory farms, fur ranches and other animal exploitation industries.

In-your-face style activism is controversial.
-  At the very least, it can be rude, annoying, disruptive.
-  At worst, trespassing, vandalism and stealing are against the law.

But NONE are terrorism. None intend or implement physical violence against another human being.

We, as a movement, can NEVER engage in society’s version of violence: We can never injure or kill another human being. With that said, notions of animal rights activists as "eco-terrorists" and a main threat to homeland security are as absurd as the unconstitutional case against the SHAC 7.
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Kinship Circle is a nonprofit focused in: Animal Cruelty Investigation & Action, Humane Education, and Disaster Animal Response.
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