SHAC TAKES THE FLAK
FLIMSY PRETEXT FOR COUNTRY-WIDE ARRESTS OF ANIMAL RIGHTS ACTIVISTS
In yet another hammerblow aimed at the animal rights movement, police made 32 arrests across the UK in the early hours of Tuesday morning in ‘Operation Achilles’. Assistant Chief Constable Adrian Leppard of Kent Police says the arrests are “one of the largest, if not the largest, police operation that has targeted animal extremism in the UK.” Three properties were also searched in Belgium and the Netherlands.
700 police were involved as homes and animal sanctuaries were raided, with police seizing computers, mobile phones and cash. The whole operation was designed with maximum publicity in mind – the press were tipped off in advance and dutifully reported on the latest crackdown on animal rights ‘extremism’. Almost all those arrested had some connection with the SHAC campaign
Of course what didn’t hit the headlines was the number of properties raided without arrests being made and the fact that 24 hours later only nine of those arrested had been charged – two with blackmail and the other seven with ‘conspiracy to blackmail’. Twenty were released on bail and one without charge. Two of those nicked, main organisers in the SHAC campaign, have been held for further questioning.
Crucially, the police investigation – in a nod to corporate martial law – used intelligence and forensic support from the private sector. The pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry greeted news of the raids with glee: “News of today’s operation will act as a great fillip to the medical research community across Europe,” said a statement issued by Aisling Burnand, chief executive of Britain’s BioIndustry Association.
One source close to SHAC told SchNEWS, “This has all the hallmarks of a fishing expedition, designed to cause massive disruption to animal rights campaigns and show Big Pharma here and abroad that the police are making strides against the animal rights movement.”
NETCU CLOSES IN
As details emerged of the botched raid on Freshfields Animal Sanctuary in Liverpool, sanctuary head Dave Callendar told SchNEWS, “At 5.30 they kicked in the door and seized three staff members. At 6.20 they seized two others as they turned up for work. There were about sixty coppers – they set up a cordon and refused access to anyone. Those seized were held in vans but not arrested. My farm manager had his collarbone broken after he was grabbed by three police when he climbed the back wall to check on our pigs. He was held in a van for three hours and refused access to medical attention. Although the police brought an RSPCA inspector with them it was clear that when we regained access to the site that nothing had been done for the animals. Also they allowed animals to escape, which we’re still looking for. They took every single piece of hardware, mobile phones, photocopiers, you name it – but they didn’t take a single piece of paperwork. It’s difficult to see it as anything other then deliberate intimidation and disruption – nobody here is involved with the Huntingdon campaign. We’re a pro-active community organisation and we’re not going to let them walk all over us.”
The raids come against a backdrop of a decline in criminal incidents related to animal rights and demonstrate that the National Extremism Tactical Co-ordinating Unit’s (see www.netcu.org.uk) efforts are now aimed firmly at the ‘legitimate’ above ground animal rights movement. With SHAC once again able to conduct demos outside HLS (see SchNEWS 581) and activism spreading across Europe, Britain’s political police seem intent on decapitating the A.R. movement, by any means necessary.
* See www.shac.net for more
* Freshfields Animal Sanctuary see www.freshfieldsrescue.org.uk