portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article

actions & protests | animal rights | arts and culture | human & civil rights

All power to the animal people. Now it's time for action.

The important last words:

All power to the animal people. Now it's time for action.
All power to the animal people. Now it's time for action.
All power to the animal people. Now it's time for action.
Rod Coronado uttered those important syllables, speaking as a living being connected to all his people: human, coyote, hawk, beagle, rat, rabbit, cat. And so on. Speaking as someone who has watched the mechanisms of death function for too long, threatening the earth, threatening our lives, threatening our souls, he exhorts people to find in themselves the words and the work they truly believe in, a space in their souls where they are not afraid, not ashamed of what they allow by their inaction. Because they stand up and defend those who can no longer defend themselves. Because they stand up as free people. Acting from their hearts, refusing the neurosis that results from constantly sacrificing passionate heart to logical mind.

But that's not to say Coronado has not thought out his actions and his motivations. Every ALF action he successfully executed was tainted by the faces of the animals he had to leave behind... the countless others he couldn't save. That is why he is here tonight to explain that destroying the property that destroys life is not an option, it's a necessity.

Highland Park, New Jersey: The two main themes of the November 30th speaker's forum, hosted by Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHACamerica.net), were that human, earth and animal liberation are all one struggle: life against death. And that those who choose to deal in screams, blood and death have proved morally unreachable, that life must be liberated from their clutches and the mechanisms of death by which they make their living destroyed.

Over 300 people from across the country gathered tonight to listen to the diverse set of speakers which included Chris DeRose, founder of Last Chance for Animals; Brenda Shoss, journalist and Kinship Circle founder; Bobby Seale, founding Black Panther chairman and organizer; Robin Webb, RSPCA trustee and Animal Liberation Front (ALF) spokesperson; and the aforementioned Rob Coronado, direct action activist.

Chris DeRose started out by commenting that he has been working as an activist for 25 years and has not come across a group more intelligent, focused and dedicated than SHAC. Speaking to a gathering dedicated to closing down Huntingdon Life Sciences, the Trenton, New Jersey animal testing lab founded in the UK in 1952 and responsible for the deaths of 9 million animals, DeRose emphasized the role of direct action in any significant social change.

An interesting character, DeRose was on the other side of the police line when co-speaker Bobby Seale's Black Panthers were active. As a cop, he was indoctrinated to think of the Panthers as "the bad guys." He didn't like them. Still, they had his respect because of their obvious dedication. And, as he thought of what he would do in their position, as part of a population routinely exploited, abused and oppressed, he realized he would do the same thing.

His path eventually led him to acting, then as his eyes were opened increasingly to the systematic cruelty inflicted on animals, he gravitated to activism, engaging in non-violent tactics and civil disobedience, with varying degrees of success. By conducting vigils and lockdowns he helped shut down a west coast shelter that supplied 1,600 animals to research labs a year. At UCLA he kicked down the doors to the brain research lab and showed cats and other animals living lives of loneliness and misery, contrasting the "white ruffle" reports the lab sold news stations. CNN called it "the kick that was heard 'round the world." Asserting he has visited more labs than anyone he knows, he made a promise to a dying malamute that his cries, and those echoing throughout torture houses around the world, would not go unheard.

Brenda Shoss, journalist and author of "Inside Out: Diary of Madness," read from undercover agent Michelle Rokke's diary. "I want to run but I can't. I can't turn away from the scream." That bare truth is what everyone is so afraid of. The public. The cops. Politicians and corporations. They don't want to see it and don't want it to be seen. They don't want to discuss it and don't want it discussed, as illustrated by a police officer admonishing a high school student to "NEVER engage 'these people.'" It didn't matter that Shoss was just outlining all the superior non-animal methods to test products. The ears, eyes and hearts of HLS and likeminded butchers are closed to the screams, because they say the animals cannot feel, cannot speak, cannot reason ... and, when those assumptions are proved false ... just because they have the luxury to ignore the screams. Activists stand witness and resolve to act. Not, as ALF pressperson Robin Webb points out, out of some easily fetishized notion of being animal lovers, but because they would act to stop the impetus of any scream, from anyone. Because it's the right thing to do.

Bobby Seale, ex-Black Panther organizer, defies the prefab boxes of ideology and sociology. Raised as a carpenter and builder, he maintains an eye for the practical result and relishes the challenges of building community. Tonight was his second speaking engagement dealing with animal rights issues, but his realization that animal and human rights are mutually integral is not a new idea to him. Brought up by a father who hunted, he experienced firsthand the paradoxical pair: the taking of life and a heartfelt bond with nature. After serving four years in the air force, he went to work as an engineer on the Gemini project and had little knowledge of the struggles of his brothers. But, Martin Luther King piqued his interest with his boycotts against companies that discriminated against black people; "Make Wonder bread wonder where their bread went." Seale also ceased hunting trips with his father, choosing to take time to re-evaluate his relationship with nature and animals. He looked around and saw black soldiers dying in Viet Nam and denied civil rights in the U.S. Able to comprehend abstract philosophy he knew it didn't translate well, and had a knack for illustrating complex points with parables or simply by streamlining language, an impromptu poem opposing the participation of black soldiers in the Viet Nam war drawing a crowd of 150. A pragmatist, he paraphrased the Declaration of Independence to create the Panthers' list of ten demands. He refused to define issues simply in terms of race, including all oppressed people and examining the function of class and other factors not specifically race-related. He believes in community control but was never sold on the top down command economy advocated by socialist and communist friends. He is currently working on "New world economies that make human sense." He was spurred by the assassination of Malcolm X to act, to answer the great question: "So, what do we do?" and organized community centers, fed more hungry people in the state of California ... *than* did the state of California, and conducted seven months of legal, armed ground patrol observing the police and asserting their rights to do so by citing court rulings and applicable laws. Seale attributes some of this success to the ability of the Panthers to form coalitions, saying they worked with at least 38 other groups on a daily basis. Bobby Seale himself is impossible to paraphrase, but what I got was this: you must realize all struggles are parts of one struggle; you must make a decision to act and dedicate yourself to it.

Robin Webb, UK pressperson for the ALF, is a veteran animal activist and defended successfully against a lawsuit charging him with provoking unspecified people, to do unspecified things, at unspecified times and places. He became involved in animal rights while working at an electronics company next to a slaughterhouse. He was haunted by the sad eyes of the cows. One day at lunch he saw a truckload of pigs being unloaded. Later, at his desk, he could hear and smell them dying. He went home that night to his wife and a dinner of pork chops that would remain forever uneaten. Twelve weeks later, informed of the terrible implications of dairy by their own experiences growing up in farming families, they were vegan. Asserting he cannot bargain with the freedom of other living beings, he advocates nothing less than abolition of vivisection all torture and murder of living beings, by any means necessary. He recounts actions against Huntingdon Life Sciences and resoundingly pronounces them not enough. HLS still kills 500 a day. Webb believes SHAC will be the end of HLS, that it is just a matter of time, and that that will be the deathnell of vivisection and the saving grace of millions of animals that have no different, no lesser desire to live than we, and no lesser right to do so.

What is obvious now: Terror is being waged on us every day by those who profess to act in our names and in our best interest. Those waging it have the blood of billions of dead animal brothers and sisters on their hands. And that of as many discounted human siblings. Our war is a war against their terror. Fight them like everything depends on what you do. It does.

homepage: homepage: http://www.shacamerica.net

Update from today's Dec 1 protest in NJ 01.Dec.2002 15:40


Robin Webb was arrested today for some trivial reason.I think it was being the 51st person to cross police lines when the injunction HLS got only allows for 50 people to be in front of the lab at once.for more updates, email shac at