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Kevin and Kinship Circle executive director Brenda Shoss, with her now deceased dog Stanley who (with best bud Tikvah, an orange kitty) inspired Kinship Circle. Kevin first met Stanley in St. Louis, when he and Jake Conroy drove a video-display truck there to protest Forest Pharmaceutical — an HLS customer. Photo: (c) Kinship Circle

Jake Conroy and Kevin Kjonaas, AR2003. Photo: (c) Kinship Circle

Lauren Gazzola and Jake Conroy, center, at the Awards Banquet at a past National Animal Rights Conference. Photo: (c) Kinship Circle

ABOVE: Kevin Kjonaas mugs for the camera, with Lauren Gazzola at their SHAC-USA booth in pre-prison days. Photo: (c) Kinship Circle. BELOW: SHAC 7 co-defendents on courthouse steps.


AUGUST 3, 2011
My friend Kevin finally leaves prison, where he served…for what? "Conspiring" to close an animal testing lab charged with multiple animal cruelty violations in the USA and UK?

As a past spokesperson for SHAC-USA, I recall standing beside Kevin, Jake, Lauren and anti-HLS activists with dignity and purpose. Since then, I’ve adopted a beagle named Liberty. She is rescued from a puppy mill. But Liberty is every beagle inside HLS. In her, I see the individual the others should have been. I see the trust they should have felt. I see what was taken from each one — slowly, painfully, horribly. And I scream inside. Still.

— Brenda Shoss, Kinship Circle

Kevin Kjonaas was released to a halfway house in Minneapolis after spending almost 6 years in a federal prison. Kevin is the last of the SHAC 7 to leave prison. If you would like to write Kevin while at the halfway house, his address is:
Kevin Kjonaas
2825 E. Lake Street
Minneapolis, MN 55406

SHAC 7 Imprisoned, 2006
Their crime? Operating a website to report civil disobedience, lab animal rescue, vandalism…of other activists. The 6 prisoners, linked to Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC-USA), were not accused of these crimes. They were arrested for ties to a website about Huntingdon Life Sciences, an animal testing lab cited for fraud and animal welfare violations. After criminalizing formerly legal protest tactics, a judge issued prison sentences in federal court:

•  Kevin Kjonaas: 72 months
•  Lauren Gazzola: 52 months
•  Jacob Conroy: 48 months
•  Andrew Stepanian: 36 months
•  Darius Fullmer: 12 months, 1 day
•  Joshua Harper: 36 months

The court ordered all (penniless) defendants to pay $1,000,001 in restitution. Each received 3 years of supervised release after prison, (with conditions they not violate any laws) and government computer monitoring.

Huntingdon Life Sciences, working overtime to torture animals for pesticides, cleaners, and more data inapplicable to humans.

AETA Criminalizes Formerly Free-Speech Activities
The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act Of 2006 (AETA) expands Animal Enterprise Protection Act 1992 and Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act 2002 with disproportionate penalties for "an offense involving nonviolent physical obstruction of an animal enterprise...that may result in loss of profits but does not result in bodily injury." Boycotts, civil disobedience, investigations…tied to an industry’s loss of $10,000 in revenues can be punished by steep fines and jail, plus label activists "terrorists."

Equal Justice Alliance, Defending Freedom Of Speech And Assembly — A coalition of animal protection and social justice organizations formed in November of 2006 to defend freedom of speech and assembly by defeating the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA).


A Story About Mistruth, Injustice, And The American Way
Move Over Al Qaeda! Animal Lovers Top FBI Most Wanted  /  By Brenda Shoss — Residents probably thought a homicidal maniac lurked along tree-lined streets of their neighborhood on May 26, 2004. As they rose to eat harried breakfasts and tackle the morning commute, U.S. Air Marshals circled overhead in a noisy helicopter. At 6:00 a.m. 15 gun-toting FBI agents and assorted Secret Service personnel raided the home of Kevin Kjonaas, 26, Lauren Gazzola, 25, and Jacob Conroy, 28.

Their crime? Operating a website that reports civil disobedience, laboratory animal rescue, vandalism and similar tactics of other animal rights activists. Kjonaas, Gazzola, Conroy, Darius Fullmer, Andrew Stepanian, and Joshua Harper — all linked with the nonprofit organization Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC-USA) — are not accused of these crimes. They were arrested on "animal enterprise terrorism" charges for ties to a website that "conspires" to close Huntingdon Life Sciences, an animal testing laboratory cited for research fraud and hundreds of animal welfare violations.


"This case is about First Amendment practices in the 21st Century [and] the freedom to use websites to speak for any cause," attorney Andrew Erba told Star-Ledger reporters. Kjonaas is a University of Minnesota graduate who started an Amnesty International chapter and volunteered at nursing homes before becoming a full-time advocate for animal. He and the others hardly typify the terrorist profile.

Conspiracy to terrorize Huntingdon, a London-based company with a lab in New Jersey, carries a maximum three-year jail term and $250,000 fine. The activists also face a five-year jail sentence and $250,000 fine, per count, for conspiracy to engage in interstate stalking plus three more counts of interstate stalking.

That’s a lot of zeros for breaking an obscure law to shield animal-use corporations from protesters. The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act of 1992 lets the Attorney General and Secretary of Agriculture conduct a tax-funded study on domestic terrorism impacts "on enterprises using animals for food or fiber production, agriculture, research, or testing."

Ahhhh. That’s a Jihad sigh of relief as America’s "War on Terrorism" turns from bomb-wielding Islamic extremists to grassroots eco-activists. Even right-wing fanatics vie for the Justice Department’s attention, Paul Krugman asserts in a New York Times op-ed piece. Attorney General John Ashcroft apparently withheld details about a white supremacist in Texas armed with 60 pipe bombs and a cyanide bomb. Yet in early June, Krugman notes, an FBI rep asked an industry group to help suppress "the leading domestic terrorist threat: ecological and animal rights extremists.

The Bush regime can’t "smoke out" terrorists overseas. So it exhausts resources on a National Task Force to hunt down animal rights activists at home. "The rounding up of [SHAC-USA] activists should set off alarms heard by every social movement in the United States: This ’war’ is about protecting corporate and political interests under the guise of fighting terrorism," writes freelance reporter Will Potter, Protest Torture of Animals; Get Arrested as a Terrorist.

In June, Rep. George Nethercutt, R-Wash., proposed the "Ecoterrorism Act of 2004" to install criminal penalties for "destructive conduct intended to injure, intimidate or interfere with plant or animal enterprises." This bill guards livestock from "tampering ecoterrorists."

With the June screening of more American cows thought to harbor BSE infection, tampering ecoterrorists might find it hard to compete with the growing threat of mad cow disease. Never mind that. Over the May 15-16 weekend, your tax dollars apprehended animal rights activists trying to stage a picnic at an Orange County, CA park for Liberation Weekend. The picnic didn’t go down, but thanks to the counterterrorism efforts of the FBI and Costa Mesa Police, several teenagers were busted for failure to wear their seatbelts.

Both aboveboard and underground activists can no longer count on their First Amendment privilege to free speech, Fourth Amendment buffer from unlawful search and seizure, and Sixth Amendment assurance of a speedy and public trial. Under Bush’s Patriot Act, the government is empowered to:

  • Acquire the titles of books that suspects buy or borrow from bookstores and libraries.
  • Wage "sneak-and-peak" searches at the home or workplace of anyone affiliated with a religious or political body, with no requirement to demonstrate probable cause.
  • Obtain user records from Internet providers without a court order or subpoena and observe Internet searches, email exchanges, and chat room dialogue.
  • Expand wire-tapping of phone calls.
  • Attain an individual’s medical, financial and educational history.
  • Spy on discourse between attorneys and clients in federal custody.
  • Detain foreigners for an indeterminate period.

According to the Patriot Act, domestic terrorism includes "intimidation" and "coercion" used to influence the government or civilians. "Indeed, nearly any protest group can fit the definition of terrorists," argues Dr. Steven Best, associate professor/chair of philosophy at the University of Texas-El Paso. "Protests often are intimidating and their entire point is to ’influence’ policy."

In historical terms, the decades-old animal rights movement is not particularly outstanding. It is "no more controversial than the lunch counter sit-ins of the civil rights era, the union pickets for fair wages, the agitation of the suffragettes, and the dissidence of Henry David Thoreau, Harriet Tubman, John Brown, and the celebrators of the Boston Tea Party," SHAC-USA maintains.

Some politicians agree. In response to a May 18, 2004 Senate Judicial Committee hearing, Animal Rights: Activism vs. Criminality, Senator Patrick Leahy stated: "Most Americans do not consider the harassment of animal testing facilities to be terrorism, any more than they consider anti-globalization protesters or anti-war protesters or women’s health activists to be terrorists. I think most would rather that we address more urgent concerns that really do pose a threat to this country and to the world."

In fact, the government’s most wanted ecoterrorists — the Earth Liberation Front (ELF), the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) and SHAC-USA — have never caused human death or injury in the U.S.


Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS), on the other hand, flaunts multiple breaches of the U.S. Animal Welfare Act, the arrest of workers on animal cruelty charges, more than 520 infringements of Good Laboratory Practice in England, and a $50,000 payoff to the U.S. Agriculture Department for misstated records and animal welfare violations.

As many as 500 dogs, cats, rabbits, mice or chimpanzees die each day for tests "only reliable 5-25% of the time," one HLS record claims. Documentation from six investigations exposes inept HLS technicians who shove naso-gastric tubes into dogs’ lungs, causing instant death as animals drown in toxins. Animals seen dangling from slings or cowering in cages are left to seize, vomit and collapse with no veterinary care. In one video clip a tech grabs a beagle by the the loose skin over his neck. As the puppy’s legs frantically peddle air, the man punches the dog in the face. During a supposedly post-mortem dissection, another tech slices into the chest of a convulsing monkey.

Still, HLS enjoys unlimited immunity while its adversaries fight increasing repression. On May 29, 2004, Philadelphia activists holding a legal demonstration outside the home of the president of Johnson Matthey Pharmaceuticals, an HLS customer, were arrested and handcuffed to a wall for eight hours at state police barracks. The 11 activists, including two minors restrained in leg shackles, were charged with criminal conspiracy, harassment, disorderly conduct, and corruption of a minor.

"In our Orwellian culture where truth is falsehood and falsehood is truth, documenting animals tortured is terrorism, but beating and killing animals in unspeakably vicious ways is not," Dr. Best writes in Neo-McCarthyism, the Patriot Act, and the New Surveillance Culture. The vast majority of animal rights advocates do not commit vandalism to bring attention to animal suffering. But even if they did, there are already property damage laws with penalties proportionate to the crime.

More often, activists like Kim Berardi are jailed for contempt when they refuse to divulge information about other activists or state their political philosophy. Berardi, subpoenaed to appear before a federal grand jury in Seattle on July 1, was sent to the Sea-Tac Federal Detention Center on charges federal agents decline to explain.

Activists who fight on any front ought to support fellow activists and challenge the government’s grip on fundamental liberties.

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Animal Advocacy  |  Education  |  Disaster Aid  •  •
314-795-2646  |  7380 Kingsbury Blvd  |  Saint Louis, MO 63130 USA

●  Federal 501c3 under U.S. IRS ruling, Public Charity Status: 170b1Avi
●  Tax Employee Identification Number (EIN) available upon request
●  Nonprofit Certificate of Incorporation, Charter: N00071626