Taken from The Huffington Post
Marineland — the captive animal park in Niagara Falls, Ont. — has faced opposition for decades. However, the statements delivered to the Toronto Star this summer by 15 ex-employees has exploded this issue. News coverage has been global, all levels of government have been brought in and the park has seen record demonstrations — culminating in a 800+ person protest on the park’s closing day (Oct. 7), which included hundreds of advocates jumping the turnstiles and shutting down the last dolphin show of the season.
Marineland has tried to counter this growing public concern by taking to the courts and filing what I believe is a SLAPP suit — a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation — a common tactic to try to shut down public debate. The park has launched a $1.5-million suit, as well as injuctions, against me. They have tried to use to the press to their advantage, releasing a statement that groundlessly accused activists of a “campaign of intimidation and harassment.”
The timing of Marineland’s lawsuit is a great indication of their motivations and intentions. A day before Marineland ﬁled their suit, news broke that the Ministry of the Environment was going to begin aninvestigation and possible excavation of Marineland’s four mass graves — two of which are allegedly full of over 1,000 of animals who have been buried during the park’s 50-year history without the knowledge of the Ministry of the Environment. Advocates have made the graves a focus for decades, and this announced investigation sent the news viral — exposing yet another aspect of apparent callousness at the captive animal park.
The next day, Marineland ﬁled their suit in St. Catharines Court. Interestingly, before the suit was even filed, I was contacted by Sun Media paper the Niagara Falls Review for a comment. That left me wondering, did Marineland leak the story to the Review in an attempt to wash the mass graves story out of local press?
Marineland has been cautioned by its own industry lobby group, the Canadian Association for Zoos and Aquariums (CAZA) — to which it pays membership dues — to conduct an independent assessment of the park’s water system to determine what if any update may be needed. Months later, no assessment has been conducted, according to news reports.
Despite this, Marineland has attempted some jaw dropping PR spin, rolling out social media sites in an apparent attempt to quell public outrage. Evidently, for the park, protecting proﬁts comes ﬁrst, and animals are a distant second.
In 2011, Marineland Animal Defense launched as a campaign, marking Marineland’s 50th anniversary. Ahead of launch, John Holer — Founder, Owner and President of Marineland — had been successful in his move to evict 47 families from a trailer park he had recently purchased, which sat near his Marineland property. Those families fought the evictions — many of them low income, marginalized families with homes that were “ﬁxed” and could not be moved off site. Many of them lost thousands. Nearly two years later the park still sits untouched.
The last resident in the park — Paula Millard – threatened that she would kill herself before she would leaver her home. On the night of March 31, 2011, that is what she did. For months, she had complained to other park members about what she felt was harassment by John Holer. Apparently, she saw suicide as her ﬁnal act of resistance. I have been told by Paula’s cousin and best friend Teresa that before Paula took her life, she wrote on the walls of her trailer: “John you will get it back ten fold.”
From the beginning, Marineland Animal Defense organized with the residents that fought their eviction through the GoHomeless.ca campaign. This summer I got the opportunity to meet Teresa. As we hugged and cried I promised her that I will see this through and that I will make sure that Paula’s struggle, as well as the struggle of the animals captive at Marineland, doesn’t fade away. John Holer has money, inﬂuence and lawyers. I’ve got the promise I made to Teresa.
As I move forward with my defense, I am calling for support. Marineland will be attempting to “spend me into the ground.” We will be organizing to use what resources we have to neutralize them. I am calling for statements of support and solidarity from animal advocacy and social justice organizations, and will be setting up speaking events throughout Ontario and Western New York.
An effective response to a SLAPP suit depends on a refusal to trade in fear and intimidation — and also a broad base of support. That’s why I need you. I’ve got some promises I need you to help me keep.
My name is Brittany Kenville. I have been subpoenaed as a witness to the grand jury convened in San Francisco in relation to events that took place in Santa Cruz, California in 2008. Grand juries exist to determine whether there is enough evidence for a person or persons to be indicted. Subpoenas are used to force the appearance at grand juries by anyone the prosecution feels may provide evidence in support of their case.
Grand juries operate in secrecy, and witnesses who choose to testify are not allowed to have a lawyer present when doing so. In cases like this, grand juries are used as a tool to strike fear in and intimidate activists, and also to neutralize them from action. They spread seeds of mistrust throughout activist movements, and they operate under the assumption that people in activist communities are inherently guilty by association. I am adamantly opposed to these proceedings. I believe that they are unjust and an appalling misuse of prosecutorial power. Using grand juries to harass activist communities does not serve justice, it is simply a means of political repression.
I have been working with an attorney, and I plan on exercising every right that I have in response to my subpoena. I have the complete, unfaltering support of my family, my friends and my fellow activists. I encourage anyone else who is subpoenaed to reach out, seek counsel, do research, and learn your rights in these proceedings. I hope everyone reading this will learn more about the grand jury system and join me in standing up against its use as a tool of harassment.
In solidarity, Brittany Kenville
Check out Green Is The New Red for more info
Snitch David Agranoff has been released and spotted back home in Portland, OR. If you see David, feel free to verbally make him feel unwelcome by telling him that he isn’t welcome, and that he should leave, but please do not engage with him, there is a good chance he still may be working for the FBI. It looks like Marie Mason’s case isn’t the only one that David has cooperated with. For more info, please check out the Green Is The New Red article about David (Scroll to the bottom of the article to see the update from November 29th 2012.)
by Jake Conroy (SHAC 7)
“I don’t tweet or tumbl or any of that stuff, so I don’t really have a place to put this besides here. Nor can I contact websites like Animal Liberation Frontline or NAALPO due to my legal issues. But this ridiculous article ( http://ow.ly/fkeMf ) about how we need to do away with ALF supporters has been heavy on my mind. So I thought I would share my thoughts. Feel free to share on your social media outlets if you feel inspired to:
While I share in the anonymous author’s desire to see more action and less talk, the arguments laid out in their article are tragically flawed, dangerous, and counterproductive (and somewhat laughable as it is being posted on blogs and all things social media, thus creating just the opposite affect of the original argument). I have spent awhile thinking about and being angered over the article and how best to respond. Ultimately, my own personal story, which I think is fairly commonplace for a lot of us, was the best rebuttal:
I think my story is pretty typical for anyone coming up in the mid 90′s. I moved to the Northwest in 1995 when I was 19. I quickly became vegan and interested in politics. I didn’t know any other activists or even vegans at the time. However, I found myself captivated by hardcore and punk music, and zines that espoused the lifestyle. I would go to places like Fallout Records and dig through the dusty box they had in the corner, full of old magazines. Here I would find old Sea Shepherd journals and issues of The Underground (the ALF Supporters Group newsletter). I would go to hardcore shows and pick up literature at tables. I spent hours in used bookstores digging through the history sections for books on radical activism. I would spend days pouring over these materials, reading and rereading them, and dreaming and scheming.
Eventually I would find my way into my local animal rights group. I worked with the Northwest Animal Rights Network in Seattle that was a mix of the greatest group of people. Our tight-knit core group of 10 or so had retired naval lawyers in their 70s down to punk rock teens with mohawks. But the one thing we all had in common was that we unabashedly supported the ALF. One of the first demonstrations I ever went to was an ALF support demo after a local Honey Bee Ham restaurant had its windows smashed in. Myself and a friend started passing out information on animal rights and animal liberation at the local hardcore shows. We would be doing tables upwards of 3-4 times a week. There wasn’t much in the way of ALF support merchandise at the time, so we screened pro-ALF shirts and hoodies we got from the thrift store and sold them to cover the costs of photocopies. While I certainly don’t attribute it entirely or even remotely to the two of us, there was definitely a genuine feeling of support for direct action and the ALF within the community.
Over the next several years I would redirect my focus from simple protests to civil disobedience, to direct action in the form of whale hunt sabs off the coast of Washington, to helping get the SHAC USA office off the ground and working on the anti-HLS campaign for 5 years. During that time I also worked on and helped start some of the biggest and most important direct action support magazines of those times. Those magazines would help build, among other things, community support for imprisoned activists around the world. That support would come in many forms, including leaflets and magazines, t shirts, videos, benefits, and support funds. Eventually myself and 5 friends would be found guilty in the SHAC 7 trial. I would be sentenced to 48 months in federal prison, partly because we chose to publicly share ideas. Controversial ideas, like supporting direct action and the ALF.
All of this started with zines I found in a box in the corner of a record store. It led to high-fives with friends, wearing black shirts and taking goofy pictures with disposable cameras at hardcore shows (that’s what we did before Instagram). I started out as a kid listening to music and reading propaganda. I never was a press officer, or a convicted (or not convicted) operative, nor am I disabled. But I think I’ve accomplished some really exciting things in my 17 years as an activist – from getting fur out of major retailers in Seattle, to using direct action to stop the killing of whales off the coast of Washington to organizing with SHAC USA, one of the most successful grassroots animal rights campaigns in our history. And I started out exactly as the kid you are saying needs to stop their “madness”.
Do you know who else started out the same way I did? Being inspired by listening to the music you want to end and reading the zines (now online, called blogs) you would like to do away with? ALF activists like Rod Coronado, Keith Mann, Peter Young. Andy Stepanian, Darius Fullmer. Do you know how ALL of those folks survived their prison experiences? By receiving books and letters and photos and donations by all those people who you suggest do nothing more than “work and watch movies with friends”.
The bottom line is, for over 40 years there has been ALF support work going on all over the world. (Please learn the history of that work at Conflict Gypsy ) That work has created a community of people that might not be exactly what you want them to be, but ultimately will support those people you revere so much when they need it the most. Their simple presence will keep that community around, will foster that support when its needed, and keep the issues as relevant as possible. Of course we want more action, less words. But ultimately we need both, because that’s what will keep these ideologies going throughout the peaks and the troughs, the highs and the lows. To not show your support publicly for direct action is what may be the final blow to one of the most important elements of the animal rights movement.”
Maddy Pfeiffer was released from the grand jury today on a continuance, after refusing to cooperate – their lawyer argued that the two weeks between subpoena and grand jury date were not enough to prepare. Maddy’s next grand jury appearance will be December 14th.
Here are the notes from the Grand Jury hearings. Personal information has been redacted including the names of people asked about by the Prosecutor.
Thanks to everyone who came out to the solidarity rally today. Remember to keep writing letters to Matt and KteeO, who have been sitting in prison since September 10 and September 28, respectively!