There are a lot of legal action happening in the Animal Liberation community right now. In South Florida, an active group against the import and export of primates and other animals to labs is facing charges that were laid on nine of their activists recently. The first of the South Florida Smash HLS defendants have started going through their first court dates, and we caught up with Kyle Krakow, one of nine, after his most recent court appearance to get an update on the situation with their group, as well as a bit of background information about what they do and how people can get involved, show support, or help them stand up to these accusations.
BWM: First, can you explain who you are, and what South Florida Smash HLS is about, and the kind of work you guys have done in the past.
Kyle: My name’s Kyle, and I’m an activist living in Palm Beach County, FL. For close to three years now I’ve been involved with South Florida Smash HLS, a grassroots group that primarily works to shut down key suppliers of monkeys for the vivisection industry. Since its birth in 2010, the group has been all about effecting real, measurable change for animals imprisoned in labs. We share the view that nonhumans deserve to live free from oppression, free from torture in the name of fraudulent science. To that end, we fully exercise our First Amendment rights and protest often.
Employing a variety of tactics, we’ve been very effective thus far. Smash HLS was instrumental in convincing five airlines to stop transporting nonhuman primates for research purposes. We also successfully shut down a monkey quarantine facility operated by the notorious Primate Products in Miami. The building, which for decades had served as a prison for defenseless primates, was closed after a three-year campaign. In addition to pressuring the company’s business partners to cut their ties, the campaign included protesting outside the facility itself and its executives’ homes on a consistent basis. Visits to the president’s country club. Early morning surprise protests. Even a ’50s/’60s themed demo in front of the manager’s house! It was a lively three years that ended with an unprecedented victory last summer. We then shifted our attention to another leading primate supplier in Miami, and during the less than four months preceding our arrest, that campaign too was full of excitement and concrete success.
BWM: Can you explain for people who might not be familiar what the charges are against yourself and the 8 other activists who have been charged in this case?
Kyle: On October 30th, 2013, eight fellow activists and I were arrested by a gang of undercover cops during a public protest outside a monkey breeding facility in Miami. Currently, the charges are disorderly conduct, criminal mischief, and assault. I was charged only with disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor, but three of my codefendants are facing felony charges and potentially serious prison time. The charges themselves are, on the surface, unremarkable. What’s unsettling is that they fall within a broader context of state repression against animal rights and environmental activists. For a more detailed look at this heightened state of repression—as well as a firsthand account of the shoddy sting operation that endangered our lives and lead to our arrest—check out [this article] written by one of my codefendants.
BWM: You recently had a court appearance on January 6, 2014 and the state was granted a continuance. This has been happening with all the defendants that have seen the inside of a courtroom from South Florida Smash HLS, what does this mean for you and the other activists?
Kyle: It means a few things. The longer our cases are open, the longer the state has to devise and tack on more dubious charges. So there’s that concern. But the most immediate trouble for us is financial, as making the trek to court isn’t cheap and neither is compensating attorneys. Whether the prosecutor is dragging out the ordeal deliberately or out of incompetence is unclear. Either way, the entire process is very resource-draining, and we’d be out of luck if not for those who continue to support us.
BWM: Is there anything that people can do to help you or any of the other defendants right now?
Kyle: Absolutely! We are in desperate need of donations to help us fight off these charges and hopefully get back to work. (Donations can be sent via PayPal by clicking the link on the right at www.smashhls.com.) Even if you’re not in a position to help out with funds, spreading the word about the battle we’re facing can go a long way. Also, if you’re interested in hosting a benefit of some kind in your area or have similar ideas, that would be rad and immensely appreciated!
BWM: Have you been deterred in your activism since these charges came down? Has anyone in your group decided to quit fighting for animals because of them?
Kyle: I think I speak for all of us when I say that we remain wholly committed in our passion and fight for animal liberation. Granted, there’s no denying this turn of events is a game changer, but I doubt any of us will head for the hills to never return. That being said, when a group of activists is outnumbered and isolated, they are particularly vulnerable to harassment and repression from the government. It’s unfortunate but true. With that knowledge we have a choice to make: Either we shun any model of activism that might attract the state’s attention, or we opt to foster a more focused, coordinated network of activists that poses a greater challenge to the repressive forces that be. I’m rooting for the latter.
BWM: Is there anyone who particularly inspires you right now, or a campaign that you really relate to or support?
Kyle: It’s difficult to single out campaigns. In terms of animal rights activism, I personally find the Gateway to Hell campaign very inspiring. I’m partial to campaigns against animal transporters because transport is such a weak link in the vivisection industry, so it makes a lot of strategic sense to target that aspect. Generally speaking, I’m heartened by any act of resistance in defense of the earth and its oppressed inhabitants. I’m especially heartened when that resistance transcends symbolic gesture and/or takes the form of a hard-hitting campaign.
BWM: Do you have any final words that you’d like to leave with people about your case or South Florida Smash HLS?
Kyle: Endless thanks to all those who’ve supported us thus far! Whether you’ve donated, shared our story online, or offered your talents and time, it means everything to us. Thank you. Stay tuned, and keep up the fight!
Today we have the great pleasure of sharing with you all an interview with the awesome folks currently on The Bunny Alliance Gateway To Hell Tour that began on the West Coast last year, and has recently been making it’s way up the Eastern Coast of the United States. This leg of the tour began on the 27th of December, 2013 and was slated to go until only January 11th, but we are happy to report that you haven’t quite missed it yet! If you are in Portland (January 18) or Seattle, those two dates have recently been added to the schedule, and the tour is slated to go around again in the summertime, so if this is resonating with people on a personal level, there are still many opportunities to become involved.
BWM: Briefly, can you explain for people who aren’t familiar, what the Bunny Alliance/Gateway To Hell Tour is, what you do, and the nature of your work?
BA: The Bunny Alliance Gateway to Hell Tour is organized as part of the global Gateway to Hell campaign against airlines and other companies that transport animals such as primates, cats, and dogs to animal testing labs. The reason for targeting these airlines is that airlines are a weak link in the vivisection industry. If you can cut off the transportation companies, then the labs simply cannot get the animals they need for experiments. Since airlines don’t have any real interest in animal testing, but do have an interest in public opinion and customer relations, tons of successes have brought the campaign to a point at which China Southern Airlines and Air France are now the only commercial airlines actively transporting animals. For a full list of victories in the campaign, please visit GatewaytoHell.net (http://www.gatewaytohell.net/our-network/victories/).
We choose to focus on Delta for this tour and as part of the Gateway to Hell campaign because Delta is the North American representative of Air France and in a joint-venture with the airline. They share the scheduling and profits of transatlantic flights on which frightened animals are locked away in the cargo holds for thousands of miles just to arrive at a life of pain and suffering. Delta has the power to pressure Air France to enact a permanent ban on the transportation of animals to labs, and we have set out to make sure they do so. Delta’s relationship with Air France could not be made clearer when Delta ticket counters across the country read “Delta KLM Air France” in bold letters spanning the walls behind them.
BWM: What is a highlight for you presently? Has a certain date or action stood out for you? What made it memorable?
BA: So far the highlight of the tour was showing up at the house of Delta Air Lines CEO Richard Anderson and seeing the expression on his face when we told him we were from The Bunny Alliance and would like to have a meeting with him. It was clear immediately that he was well aware of The Bunny Alliance and our campaign against Delta Air Lines and Air France. The whole tour had been leading up to this point, with actions happening against Delta literally across the nation on our way to their headquarters and executives’ homes in Atlanta, Georgia.
BWM: Why did you choose the name “The Bunny Alliance”? Does the name hold some kind of personal significance for you?
BA: We picked the name The Bunny Alliance for one because we want to help foster a network of grassroots activists across the country from various social movements and form alliances with other animal rights, environmental, and anarchist organizations. The reason for choosing bunnies for the name and logo is because rabbits are animals who are hyper-exploited by the capitalist system, in which they are used for their skin, their hair, their meat, as well as over-bred and neglected as companion animals and used for cruel experimentations for cosmetics, cleaning products, and pharmaceuticals.
8.Can you explain a bit about yourself and your own background in activism, how did you get to this point in your own work?
Jordan: My main form of activism in the beginning was working with Food Not Bombs a lot in Whittier and Long Beach, and then getting involved in antifascist and anarchist organizing around Southern California. Eventually I started getting involved in animal rights work and quickly started organizing on campaigns against Huntingdon Life Sciences, a contract animal testing facility. After multiple lawsuits and various victories, myself and my co-organizers started shifting our focus to the Gateway to Hell campaign and got involved in targeting airlines that transport animals to labs. With Empty Cages LA, we were part of the efforts against El Al Airlines and China Eastern Airlines (both of which stopped shipping animals) and have a hard-hitting campaign against China Southern Airlines that we are still working on with ECLA and The Bunny Alliance.
Amanda: I’ve been involved in animal rights activism since 2006. I’ve engaged in extensive vegan and animal rights educational activities, including tabling and leafleting, writing articles, organizing speaker events, and touring, and I’ve also planned a number of anti-vivisection and anti-fur protests and been involved in several long-term campaigns against the exploitation of animals, which brought me to working on the Gateway to Hell campaign. I’m also currently in law school and actively involved in making legal resources and information more accessible to activists. I’m the mom to an amazing little dog named Suzanna, who in her first couple years of life suffered abuse and then ended up on death row at an animal shelter, and she is now my constant reminder that every animal deserves to be rescued from a life of hell and she inspires me to always keep fighting.
Tyler: My activism career started in 2008 when I started attending UCLA home protests and quickly transitioned into focusing on campaigning against Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS) and their affiliates. The first major campaign victory I was a part of was in 2009 when Fortress Investment divested 70 million dollars from HLS. I remember after the victory was confirmed, I felt so empowered by the fact that a small group of ambitious kids could force a corporation to make real changes for animals through creative campaigning and pressure tactics. From that point on, I have not looked back and have been a part of various hard-hitting campaigns in the Los Angeles area, some resulting in a victory and some in lawsuits and criminal charges. But all the ups and downs over the years have taught me one important fact: campaigns are most effective when our movement works together and adapts to the challenges with which we are faced, which is exactly what The Bunny Alliance is about, creating a network of activists and winning campaigns.
BWM: Are there right now any future plans to extend the tour, or re-visit any spots you’ve already been to?
BA: We are extending the tour to include stops in both Portland (https://www.facebook.com/events/518688151584266/ ) and Seattle after our LA dates and are going to start working on organizing a longer, more comprehensive tour for the summer. We are going to revisit a lot of the cities that we went to on this tour in order to connect more with the local activists and show support for their projects as well spend more time on Delta and Air France targets. On this tour, we have been able to work with some amazing groups and help out on other campaigns along the way. We worked with Alliance for Medical Progress in St. Louis by having a home demonstration with them against Bo Kennedy, one of the last “doctors” who still uses live cats for cruel intubation trainings. We were able to stop by the China Southern Cargo (http://thebunnyalliance.com/2014/01/04/surprise-demo-at-china-southern-cargo-office-at-ohare-international-airport/) Office in Chicago, and even made a stop by the homes of two ABX Air executives (http://thebunnyalliance.com/2014/01/04/756/) in Ohio after a friend asked for some help on that campaign (ABX Air are a small cargo company that have started shipping primates from China to the US ).
BWM: If people want to follow the tour or lend support, what are the best ways for them to do that?
BA: The best way to follow the tour is to visit our website at TheBunnyAlliance.com. We have been updating it on daily basis after each demo and action. The best way to support the tour and the overall campaign is to come to the events we have organized in your city, make donations so we can keep doing this work, and organize your own protest, leafleting event, or benefit in your city.
BWM: If there were one thing that you could wish for on the tour, what would it be, what is the best thing you could hope for while you are out on the road?
BA: One of the main goals of this tour is not just to have one time protests in each city, but to be able to empower activists to take organizing and planning into their own hands. So in that respect, one of the best things that we can hope for is to have groups work with the Gateway to Hell network and organize their own actions against Delta and Air France, or even to just feel inspired by our work and strategic campaigning and put that motivation onto their own projects and struggles.
BWM: Any final thoughts about vivisection, the tour, or anything else you’d like to leave people with?
The grassroots animal liberation movement is getting stronger across the world every day, and with the increasing closures of
breeding facilities and laboratories along with the victories of the Gateway to Hell campaign, we can and will see an end to vivisection; however, this end cannot be fully realized while a global capitalist system still prevails, and the end to vivisection or even the “liberation” of all non-human animals does not equate to an end to suffering or the overthrow of all oppressive institutions and ideologies. Lastly, a note to anarchists who have no real interest in animal liberation and won’t expand their moral framework to include non-human animals: a friend of ours from the New York City Anarchist Black Cross pointed out that our strategies and tactics as animal rights activists work. The animal liberation movement gets results, tears down the capitalist framework of domination over other beings, has one of the strongest prisoner support networks in the world, and operates from a frame of practical action that is based on a theory of total liberation.
Pig farm owners are outraged after the release of undercover footage from inside their facilities and are taking matters into their own hands seeking the capture of animal liberation activists. A number of farmers from New South Whales took out an add in the paper detailing that they would pay $10,000 to anyone who could aid in a conviction of activists who carry out investigations on their farms.
Reports claim that the add is in response to farmers on a property outside of Sydney discovering cameras installed on the property. The pig farmers waited till nightfall and confronted activists who had returned to collect their equipment and ambushed them. A four-hour chase ensued and ending with damage to the activist’s vehicle. The farmers then acquired Apprehend Violence Orders (AVO’s) after the altercation against Mark Pearson, executive director of Animal Liberation. An AVO is a legal injunction that is usually awarded to victims of domestic violence. The order is made by a court against a person who makes someone fear for their safety, to protect them from further violence, intimidation or harassment–it is similar to a restraining order in the United States/Canada, but centres around a threat of violence.
The farmer’s are likely upset with the success of the Animal Liberation NSW campaign, which has convinced a major retailer to phase out sow crates years ahead of the national phase out in 3 years time.
In addition to the bounty, one farmer had attempted to sue Animal Liberation for copyright infringement for using footage obtained on their property. The farmer claimed since the footage was the “fruit” of a crime (trespassing) that the activists who obtained it had no right to keep or distribute it. This challenge was struck down and the footage was released.
Animal Liberation NSW – http://animal-lib.org.au/
In Ontario, a group of activists have dug in to halt the construction of Line 9, a pipeline that would transport toxic diluted bitumen from the Alberta Tar Sands through communities and watersheds, as well as First Nations, which have not been consulted, nor consented to the pipeline crossing their land. Opposition to the pipeline has been steadily building since June. The facebook page for #SwampLine9 has the most current information, as well as this tumblr, updated often.
Vanessa Gray, Aamjiwnaang and Sarnia Against Pipelines is quoted as saying “The health of Aamjiwnaang is suffering from the effects from Canada’s Chemical Valley as a result of Environmental Racism. We need to act now in defence of the land we depend on before Enbridge permanently destroys our territories. This is a human rights issue that effects future generations of all peoples.” Facts from he facebook include:
Every First Nations band council that intervened in the NEB process said that they had not been consulted in accordance to the Canadian consultation.  Enbridge refuses to carry $1 billion in insurance to cover the costs of a possible spill, arguing that it is unnecessary. Meanwhile, clean up for Enbridge’s Kalamazoo disaster has cost over $1 billion in an area with a population of 7,000.  Richard Kuprewicz, a pipeline safety expert with over forty years of experience in the energy sector, says the probability of Line 9 rupturing is “over 90%.” 
Yesterday Trish Mills entered into a plea on the charge of mischief. She was charged for her part in stopping construction at an Enbridge oil station for 6 days. The court did not allow her to make her statement to the gallery, so it was posted on the #SwampLine9 tumblr here. It read:
Today I plead guilty to the charge of mischief.
It is a charge I received for interrupting operations at an Enbridge oil pumping station for a total of six days.
I accept responsibility for my actions, and all which that entails.
My understanding is that this is the type of personal accountability the court wishes to hear.
That said, it is this same moral strength which saw me charged in the first place.
I believe in honouring the land, water and all living things, and that they deserve our respect and protection.
I believe that the communities, treaties and teachings of first nations people deserve our reverence.
Enbridge’s line 9 is a risk to all of these things – both here in Ontario and in a broader context so I see my actions this past summer was nothing less than a harmony between my actions and my principles.
I believe in what I did then and I believe in it now, and I understand that that is not what the court wishes to hear.
But this action was one of necessity, borne of a failed and exclusionary regulatory process. Other means were tried, and failed, because today’s political climate encourages the exploitation of land, water and people.
I know that it would be easier –and safer – to stand here and lie. To show full remorse and voice regret as I’ve been told to do. But I can’t’ do that because, no matter what sentence is handed down today, I have to be able to live with my actions and their implications.
This isn’t to say I have no regrets at all; I have several.
I regret that this action may have put some people of Westover in a difficult situation.
I regret if an individual was hurt by my actions.
I especially regret that action like this must be taken at all, and that people are being criminalized for defending such fundamental things.
And so in making a decision about sentencing today, I wish to remind the court that despite a lack of remorse I have consideration fir others. I do positive things for people and my community through activism, education, advocacy and volunteer work.
I aim to work in animal rescue, and have deferred acceptance into a program.
There was also no person hurt by my actions – physically or financially. It is Enbridge policy to pay their workers in these situations.
Finally, I gained no extrinsic reward for my actions, however I did risk -and I stand here risking – plenty.
My journey these past months has been both interesting and challenging, though not impossible. I have learned much.
To my supporters here today –in case for some reason I can’t tell you later – take note.
There may not ever be any real victory in the courts, but there is always victory in doing what you feel is right.
Don’t give up.
No tarsands. No line 9.
On Thursday January 9th, 2014 Gary Wassaykeesic will be taking his charge from Swamp Line 9 to trial. Gary is a first nations activist initially charged with “break & enter” for asserting his indigenous sovereignty on native land.
John Sopinka Courthouse
45 Main St. East.
For further information on #SwampLine9:
NO PIPELINES. NO TARSANDS. NO LINE 9.
Over the weekend, thousands of Australians rallied in opposition to long-lines and special hunting licences that would see the deaths of countless sharks and other animals around the western australian coast. The Huffington Post reported,
“Western Australia’s government will install 72 hooks with bait, close to Perth’s beaches, to kill the sharks, whow have been responsible for seven fatal attacks on swimmers in just three years. The policy will begin on January 10th.
Any shark which is more than three metres long, which might include Great White Sharks, will be shot and killed by commercial fishermen, given the contracts for the cull.”
A 72-hook long line is set to be installed off the coast of Perth this month which will not only catch and kill the intended smaller sharks, but also dolphins, turtles and fish of all kinds. Great White Sharks are a protected species, and yet, the contracts to kill sharks will include them, as well as tiger and bull sharks.
Reports are saying that between 4000-4500 people showed up on Cottesloe Beach in Perth to protest the cull. Sea Shepherd Australia director Jeff Hansen said: “Western Australians have spoken. It’s the biggest rally I think we’ve ever seen in WA – and it’s for sharks. People are educated and they understand the importance that sharks play in our oceans.” Surfers were interviewed and said that anyone who goes into the water to surf on this coast understands the risks associated with doing so, and that it doesn’t justify killing these sharks and endangering the ocean ecosystem. There is a second rally at Cottesloe scheduled for Feb 1.
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society in Australia has announced that they intend to deploy activists in boats to watch the fishermen with the contracts for the culling of sharks larger than 3m, and photograph each kill as well as take every possible measure that is legally afforded to them to save sharks that are in danger from fishermen. The contracted fishermen have been advised to carry tarps with them to inhibit the killing from being documented. The government denies encouraging secrecy, but reminded individuals that they faced up to $25,000 in fines and 12 months jail for unlawfully interfering with fishing gear, and a $10,000 fine for interfering with lawful fishing activity.
A petition opposing the cull now has over 36,000 signatures from WA, Australia and internationally.