It remains to be seen how the animal rights and environmental movements will respond to the sentencing of the SHAC 7, but one thing seems to be clear: it hasn’t phased underground, illegal activists one bit.
On Tuesday, Wayne Parry of the Associated Press quoted a spokeswoman for the SHAC 7 saying that the government’s crackdown on above-ground activists, who simply exercised their First Amendment rights and ran a controversial website, will only push more activists to commit illegal actions. “There’s a message going out to protesters that it’s safer to go out at night to break windows,” she said.
The U.S. Attorney’s office didn’t like that at all.
“That’s the kind of twisted logic we’ve been dealing with from these militant animal rights followers who can rationalize their behavior, inspire others to do likewise, and refuse to take responsibility for their actions,” said Michael Drewniak, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie. “It’s just unbelievable that they can view harsh prison sentences this way.”
Well, that “twisted logic” doesn’t seem to be too twisted. Today I caught wind of an anonymous communiqué claiming credit for rescuing 23 rabbits from a vivisection lab in rural Massachusetts, saying the action was in honor of the SHAC 7.
Six of the rabbits are named Jake, Lauren, Kevin, Andy, Josh, and Darius, after the defendants. (Who knew the balaclava-and-bolt-cutter set was so PR savvy?)
From the communiqué:
And while the SHAC-7 will soon go to jail for simply speaking out on behalf of animals, those of us who have done all the nasty stuff talked about in the courts and in the media will still be free. So to those who still work with HLS and to all who abuse animals: we’re coming for you, motherfuckers.
It gave me a chill reading this the first time. The message of the communiqué is unmistakable: Going after above-ground activists might have gotten the government some brownie points with industry groups that want to eliminate pesky activists, but it only added a little fuel to the fire of those committing the crimes already.
And the government’s message to legal, above-ground activists was equally clear: We’re not able to catch the saboteurs, so we’re coming after you.