Wednesday 8 September 2010

Has UK Animal Rights Lost It's Edge?

Speaking after the second wave of guilty pleas from the SHAC trials DCI Andy Robbins, of Kent Police state “Since this investigation began in 2007, there has been a sustained reduction in criminal activity linked to animal rights extremism.”

Does the DCI have a point? Has state repression effectively crushed much of the militant edge that effectively complimented the lawful protests conducted by the vast majority of us in the movement? 

I have always been a lawful activist but appreciate the work of the underground. The effectiveness of lawful activity is often directly linked to the actions of more militant forces. Something I think some of my aboveground colleagues often forget.    

While it is certainly true that since the 2007 shake up things have improved and gradually got back to 'business as usual' within the community, it would be dishonest to over look the lasting effects the trials have had. The UK animal rights movement was very much shaken by the arrests and repressive sentences and there is no getting away from that.

To some extent the police repression has worked. Rather than simply fuelling the fires of resistance as has been the case in the past, the police have succeeded in crushing some of the spirit of militancy within the UK scene.

Peaceful activists are bullied by police at demonstrations and face repeated arrests. This is not an attack on 'unlawful activists' and it's time for us moderates to realise that! The police are not combating the 'extremists' they are combating all of us. The conditions are right for militancy.

My more experienced, older friends, tell me that the UK movement goes in waves. The UK animal rights movement has always been versatile and rebellious but how far will the police be allowed to push the movement before the next wave of rebellion begins?


  1. The only real threat to the movement at the moment is this pathetic 'elitism' from within. This is a greater threat than that posed by the police. Get it sorted or wither.

  2. No I think that this repression is unprecedented from both my own experience and talking about this very matter with those who have been around for 20-40 years. Several problems need addressing;
    Firstly we need to recognise repression as a real issue, we need to take on the police as an enemy, not as a movement but a number of activists need to take on this role in conjunction with other movements, fitwatch has made an excellent start, we start a culture of taking no shit from them and EVERYONE being sussed legally. Secondly if defendants are happy to the trials should be made into an extension of the campaign, I always thought this was counter productive but it seems to work with other movements. Thirdly petty squabbles amongst ourselves have to stop, we need to facilitate a proper conflict resolution strategy maybe setting up mediation network. Fourthly we need to see ourselves as human with needs, not robots, let's recognise trauma and exhaustion and not guilt trip one another. Fifthly let us rid ourselves of heirachy as much as we can, from what I have seen leaders become targets and bitter from having to spoonfeed everyone else, followers feel disempowered and lack initiative. We should have neither but be equal partners wherever possible with all of us being jointly responsible.
    All in all we need to do some real housekeeping to retain valuable activists first and foremost and create a good environment for those who may one day return to us and new people


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