Friday, March 31, 2006

It would seem the general subject of "V for Vendetta" - denial of the right to be you, the right to free speech, the right to live - may not be so far away.

Enter the SHAC 7. Animal rights activists who are now in jail.


March 03,2006 | TRENTON, N.J. -- Six animal-rights supporters face up to seven years in prison after being convicted of using a Web site to incite threats, harassment and vandalism against a company that tests drugs and household products on animals.

A jury returned its verdict against Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty and six of its members on Thursday after three days of deliberations.

Federal Judge Anne E. Thompson ordered five of them held without bail until a sentencing hearing on June 7. The defendants, all in their late 20s or early 30s, face three to seven years in prison and fines up to $250,000.

The government charged that SHAC waged a five-year campaign against Huntingdon Life Sciences, posting on its Web site information about the lab's employees and those who do business with Huntingdon. The information included their home phone numbers, addresses and where their children attended school.

Many of those people saw their homes vandalized, and they and their families received threatening e-mails, faxes and phone calls.

SHAC, based in Philadelphia, maintained its actions were protected under the First Amendment.

The defendants were not accused of directly making threats or carrying out vandalism. Instead, they were charged with animal enterprise terrorism, stalking and other offenses.

Mike Caulfield, Huntingdon's general manager, said the verdict was "a victory for democracy, research and patients."

"The government and this jury have sent a strong message to those who would ignore the democratic process and resort to criminal activity to advance their political views," Caulfield said in a statement.

SHAC President Pamelyn Ferdin said the jury was fooled by the government's case and the judge's order to remove victims' names and home addresses from its Web site reeked of fascism.

"This is a scary path for all Americans," said Ferdin, a former child star who was the voice of Lucy in the "Peanuts" movies and played Felix Unger's daughter Edna on TV's "The Odd Couple."

"Here is a government, a feckless federal government, who spent millions of taxpayer dollars to wage an assault on all our constitutional rights," she said.

Ferdin became leader of the group in 2004 after its former president, Kevin Kjonaas, and the others were indicted. She was not charged.

Many of the targets of the harassment testified that they started looking over their shoulders when walking or driving, changed their phone numbers or even moved. Some kept their children from playing outdoors, and several bought guns.

Sally Dillenback broke into tears as she recounted an anonymous e-mail that threatened to cut open her son and fill him with poison "the way Huntingdon does with the animals."

Marian Harlos testified she got late-night calls in which someone asked: "Are you scared? Do you think the puppies should be scared?"

She said masked protesters parked down the street from her house, videotaping her comings and goings. They barged into her office, screaming and tossing leaflets, and others ruined the rear door with glue and animal stickers, she said.

original article:

Info on the SHAC 7

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