No New Animal Lab Fights Back Against Skanska SLAPP Injunction

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from No New Animal Lab

Multinational, multibillion dollar corporation, Skanska, attempts to chill grassroots protest campaign through SLAPP injunctions; No New Animal Lab fights back with anti-SLAPP Special Motion to Strike

Hillsboro, OR — On January 29th, No New Animal Lab, with representation from the Civil Liberties Defense Center, filed an anti-SLAPP Special Motion to Strike against injunctions filed on behalf of two executives of Skanska USA. Skanska and its key decision makers have been the subject of a year-long protest campaign, organized under the banner of No New Animal Lab, for their $90 million contract to build a large, underground animal research lab for the University of Washington (UW).

Skanska executives at the corporation’s Portland office filed for injunctions against four activists and “No New Animal Lab” in an attempt to stifle the growing national protests. Such lawsuits are known as “SLAPPs” (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) and are often used by corporations against protest movements in an attempt to chill dissent and disrupt campaign organizing. Rather than outright criminalizing protest activity, corporations attempt to exploit the legal system, dragging grassroots activists through frivolous civil court proceedings and draining and redirecting both time and material resources. SLAPPs exist to shrewdly muzzle movements that seek to hold corporations and their executives accountable and are backdoor attempts to legislate unreasonable restrictions upon speech and assembly.

The executives who filed these lawsuits complain of residential picketing and chalking in their neighborhoods, but public streets–even those that run through neighborhoods–are traditional public forums that are long established as protected arenas for public advocacy, which includes speech and conduct that some may find offensive. Residential picketing has been upheld as constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court and is a tactic with a history of use in a variety of social movements, such as labor, forest defense, climate justice, anti-gentrification, and LGBTQ.

The activists and No New Animal Lab (NNAL) are represented by the Civil Liberties Defense Center (CLDC), which has represented other activists against corporate lawsuits, including people organizing with the Tar Sands Blockade in Texas. NNAL and the CLDC filed a Special Motion to Strike under Oregon’s anti-SLAPP statute, effectively challenging Skanska’s attempts to quell dissent and direct attention away from their involvement in animal research. The hearing on the motion and preliminary injunctions is set for February 23 – 25 at the Washington County Courthouse in Hillsboro, OR.  

“The campaign against Skanska is about challenging power–the power to callously decide the fate of thousands; the power to construct lives of suffering, captivity, and pain; and the power to evade accountability through the impersonal structure of corporations,” said a spokesperson for No New Animal Lab. “When you challenge power, you get a response. These SLAPP injunctions are just that–a response from Skanska, one of the largest corporations of its kind. The No New Animal Lab campaign interprets these lawsuits as a measure of its effectiveness.”

The No New Animal Lab campaign has grown substantially in the last year, and the pressure against Skanska is at an all-time high. In mid-January, hundreds of people from all over the country converged in New York to protest the company’s U.S. headquarters and CEO and President Richard Cavallaro, and Skanska’s largest U.S. investor, the Vanguard Group.

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Please Donate and Support!

 One way you can help right now is to make a DONATION to the campaign. Every penny goes directly to grassroots organizing and helping with legal costs. Support means everything in moments like these. Thank you!

Video from Storm Skanska/Storm NY

‪#‎StormSkansa‬‪#‎SwarmNY‬ was about pushing Skanska to a breaking point. Hundreds of people took it to the streets, their flagship offices in the Empire State Building, the CEO’s front yard in Huntington, NY, and to the top executives of their largest U.S. investor–Vanguard Group. Watch and share! ——-https://vimeo.com/152941414

 

 Look here for report-back from weekend

Constitution Pipeline Tree Cutting to begin in PA, NY is Spared for Now

NY attorney general objects to pipeline tree-cutting request

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York’s attorney general is opposing a company’s request to cut trees along its proposed pipeline route, citing the lack of a state water quality permit and other objections. Constitution Pipeline Company submitted a request to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission last week seeking permission to cut trees along the 124-mile shale gas pipeline right-of-way from Pennsylvania to upstate New York. The company said tree-cutting has to be finished by March 31 to avoid harm to birds and bats. The federal agency approved the pipeline in December 2014 with certain conditions, including a water quality permit from the New York state Department of Environmental Conservation. Attorney General Eric Schneiderman asked FERC Thursday to deny permission to start work until the state water quality permit is issued. No timetable has been given for a decision on the state permit.Read More at:

http://dec.stopthepipeline.org/ny-attorney-general-objects-pipeline-tree-cutting-request/

http://www.cbs6albany.com/news/features/top-story/stories/ny-attorney-general-objects-pipeline-treecutting-request-32139.shtml

 

Constitution Pipeline Receives FERC Authorization to Proceed with Limited Tree Felling Activities in Pennsylvania

  • Natural Gas Pipeline Critical to Meeting Region’s Expanding Energy Needs
  • Project to Support 2,400 Jobs and $130 Million in Labor Income in the Region
January 29, 2016 05:07 PM Eastern Standard Time

ALBANY, N.Y.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Constitution Pipeline Company, LLC received authorization from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) today to proceed with limited tree felling activities along its federally-certificated pipeline right-of-way in Pennsylvania. The authorization is a significant milestone and major step forward for the pipeline designed to transport enough natural gas to serve approximately 3 million U.S. homes.

Constitution Pipeline Receives FERC Authorization to Proceed with Limited Tree Felling Activities in Pennsylvania

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“We appreciate the FERC’s prompt issuance of a limited ‘Notice to Proceed’ for non-mechanized hand felling of trees in Pennsylvania,” the project sponsors said in a joint statement. “Although the Commission has not yet authorized tree felling in New York, we are optimistic that authorization will come in order for the project to meet its 2016 in-service commitment while complying with the environmental conditions of the FERC Order and the USFWS Biological Opinion.”

Approximately one-quarter of the trees planned to be felled are located within Pennsylvania, while the remaining tress are located in New York. Constitution Pipeline plans to begin limited tree felling activities in Pennsylvania as soon as its contractors and crews can be trained and deployed, finishing before March 31 to avoid adverse impacts to migratory birds and the Northern long-eared bat. These activities will be subject to third party environmental monitoring. In coordination with state and federal agencies, Constitution Pipeline has agreed to voluntarily provide $8.6 million in conservation funding for the restoration and preservation of migratory bird habitats as a conservation measure.

Assuming timely receipt of all remaining permits, in addition to a full “Notice to Proceed” from FERC, Constitution Pipeline anticipates beginning mainline construction in the spring of 2016 in order to help meet growing natural gas demand in New York and New England during the fourth quarter of 2016.

Last week in Afton, N.Y., more than 300 people, including landowners, elected officials, business leaders, labor union members and community leaders, rallied in support of the pipeline project, highlighting the economic benefits the pipeline will deliver to New York. Construction of the project is estimated to directly and indirectly support 2,400 jobs and generate $130 million in labor income for the region. Once operational, the pipeline’s economic impact is anticipated to result in more than $13 million in local tax revenue and more than $600,000 in new income in the region.

In addition to serving markets in New England and New York City, Constitution Pipeline and Leatherstocking Gas Company, LLC have announced plans to install four delivery taps along Constitution’s proposed route to facilitate local natural gas service to homes and businesses in southern New York and northern Pennsylvania.

The Constitution Pipeline project involves the construction and operation of approximately 125 miles of 30-inch-diameter pipeline from natural gas supply areas in northeast Pennsylvania and connecting with existing transmission pipelines in Schoharie County, N.Y. Once complete, the pipeline will immediately become a key piece of natural gas pipeline infrastructure in the Northeast, creating an important connection between consumers and reliable supplies of clean, affordable natural gas. Constitution will help address pipeline infrastructure issues that have exposed New England and New York consumers to periods of high natural gas prices and, significantly higher electric-generation costs. Constitution will also provide opportunities to improve regional air quality by using cleaner-burning natural gas in lieu of other fuels.

Constitution Pipeline Company

Constitution Pipeline Company, LLC is owned by subsidiaries of Williams Partners L.P. (NYSE:WPZ), Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation (NYSE:COG), Piedmont Natural Gas Company, Inc. (NYSE:PNY), and WGL Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:WGL). The 125-mile pipeline project is proposed to connect domestic natural gas production in northeastern Pennsylvania with northeastern markets during the fourth quarter of 2016. Additional information about the Constitution Pipeline can be found atwww.constitutionpipeline.com.

Portions of this document may constitute “forward-looking statements” as defined by federal law. Although the company believes any such statements are based on reasonable assumptions, there is no assurance that actual outcomes will not be materially different. Any such statements are made in reliance on the “safe harbor” protections provided under the Private Securities Reform Act of 1995. Additional information about issues that could lead to material changes in performance is contained in the company’s annual reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Contacts

Constitution Pipeline Company, LLC
Chris Stockton, 713-215-2010
christopher.l.stockton@williams.com

Greenpeace Has Gone Over to the Dark Side With Their Endorsement For the Sealing Industry

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by Captain Paul Watson / Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

Greenpeace has now crossed the line with their endorsement of seal fur as “sustainable.”

I initiated and led the first Greenpeace campaigns against sealing from 1975 until 1977. I really never thought I would see the day when Greenpeace would sell out to the sealing industry.

Jon Burgwald speaking for Greenpeace has announced that Greenpeace supports “sustainable” sealing.

There is no such thing. Seals are threatened by rapidly diminishing fish populations and pollution. Our Ocean is dying and Greenpeace seems to be in abject denial of this reality. We need seals to help maintain a healthy marine eco-system.

Greenpeace is now playing into the hands of the fur industry and the Canadian interest in marketing seal fur to China. The organization is now giving comfort to the seal butchers in supporting one of the most brutal and bloody mass massacres of wildlife on the planet.

As a co-founder of Greenpeace I feel sick and betrayed by this new policy flip-flop by Greenpeace.

How can any compassionate and caring person continue to support Greenpeace after this? What the hell are they thinking?

Greenpeace does not oppose the slaughter of pilot whales in the Faroes or the brutal massacre of dolphins in Taiji, Japan and now this. How long before Greenpeace endorses the illegal whaling operations by Japan which they still raise funds for campaigns that they never actually do? The last time a Greenpeace ship sailed to the Southern Ocean to defend whales was 2007 yet the money begging mail-outs continue to be churned out asking for donations to save the whales.

I have tried to hold my tongue over the last few years with regard to Greenpeace but this, this is a deceitful betrayal of what we created in the Seventies. They have simply spat in the face of their founders like myself, David Garrick and the late Robert Hunter with this shocking revelation that the Greenpeace Foundation is a pro-sealing organization.

We risked our lives to save seals from the clubs of the sealers. I was personally beaten by sealers and jailed for intervening against the seal slaughter. I was dragged through icy waters and across a blood soaked deck through a gauntlet of sealers on a sealing ship in 1977. They kicked and hit me with their clubs, spit on me and pushed my face into the blood and the gore and Greenpeace exploited those images to raise funds at the time and now they dismiss that sacrifice and the hard work and dangerous risks taken by Greenpeacers back then without even the courtesy of an apology to us who carried their banner.

And now Greenpeace refers to seal fur as eco-friendly. What next, an endorsement for Monsanto?

These people calling themselves Greenpeace today never took any risks for the seals, were never arrested, they have never even been to the ice floes to see the brutality with their own eyes.

This makes me both sad and extremely angry, betrayed and frustrated beyond measure.

Shame on you Greenpeace, this is unforgivable and a blatant revelation of just how far Greenpeace has drifted from its roots.

http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc-news/watch/wait-it-is-ok-to-wear-seal-skin-549602883956

Not Alone in the Struggle: Supporting Mental Health in the Movement

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by Nettle with Contributing Writer & Editor Elan / EF! Newswire

Discovering the Earth First! movement and the Earth First! Journal can be a very liberating but also intense part of someone’s personal path in unplugging and unpacking from a destructive society that we are forced-fed from a young age to be complacent to and a part of. For new-comers and seasoned activists (including those returning after a hiatus) EF! action camps and regional meetings can be overwhelming, especially if you don’t know many people, or what the term Security Culture means,… or own any camo gear.

It’s true, not all Earth First!ers are exactly alike. Not everyone identifies the same way. Folks are drawn to the movement from different geographical places, may they be urban or rural, as well as different subcultures. This is a good thing, and to foster the presence of all the individuals that are drawn to the no compromise, biocentric and direct action approach to protect the wild — and disrupt the business of planet killing operations — our movement has been expanding on safe(r) spaces at Earth First! action camps. Safe(r) spaces is a term that is used to express the intention and commitment a community or gathering of people have to create space absent of oppressive language and behaviors. 

These spaces, whether they be collective houses or action camps, are also places that are vocal about and encourage consent, good communication and spaces that make perpetrators and informants known and, usually, unwelcomed. But there’s more to creating safe(r) spaces. We need the heart and courage to expand these spaces to cultivate a healthy and thriving EF! movement. A movement that is able to attract people of all sorts of backgrounds, abilities, disabilities, identities and ages. Attracting people is one thing, but to keep folks returning and involved, it takes folks apart of various shared identity groups, as well as those who are more comfortable and familiar within EF!, to support the presence and function of safe(r) spaces. For some folks, it has a lot to do with mental health and the need to feel safe with folks who know what it is like to struggle with trauma or mental distress , in whatever state that may be for the individual — post-traumatic stress, anxiety, personality disorders, the list goes on.

Today, a lot of children and young people are being diagnosed early on with mental
disorders that are being linked to nature deficiency — not having enough access or time
in and around nature. Hopefully those kids will find their way to the woods and rivers
some day, and fill a giant void that industrial civilization has carved in their heart. Until
then, let’s be sure we are creating space for every person in recovery from civilization at
our action camps when they are ready to join us on the frontlines!

At the 2012 Rondy some folks in the organizing crew who personally needed a warm and
inviting space for mental health created this incredible Wellness Center that not only
hosted the medic tent but always had a constant supply of hot tea and a fire going, there
was even a zine library with resources on consent, mental and physical health care. As a
de-centarlized movement of pro-active people it’s important that we collectively help to
create the spaces we need to feel safe and comfortable, such as the sober fire and
camping areas, Kid’s Camp, TWAC (Trans and/or Women’s Action Camp), meeting
and/or camping areas designated for POC (people of color), as well as handicap
accessible camps and toilets, whenever possible.

At the 2013 Rondy the heavy rainfall was starting to weigh on me. During one of the
anti-oppression workshops someone pointed out in the discussion that often in radical
spaces, much like the rest of the world, there is a lot of oppression around people who
struggle with their mental health. From that spark came a brilliant fire, we decided to
add a mental health discussion to the Rondy schedule and to our surprise 15 people
came out of the woodwork to sit on the soggy ground to listen and share. We arrived
with guarded hearts and left with open hearts, feeling more than ever that there was a
sense of support here, room for us to share and discuss what ails us, but also that we
could join the rest of camp feeling not alone in our struggles —which, in turn, makes us
stronger in the fight for the wild and our collective liberation.

At the 2014 Organizers’ Conference & Winter Rondy we hosted the first Mad Camp — a
camping area specifically for folks who struggle with and/or are present with their
mental health. It was amazing! So many of us felt like we had the support we needed to
stay focused in workshops, be social even when we were feeling anxious and connect
with folks with shared life experiences who know what it’s like to not feel ok in lots of
situations.

The name for Mad Camp was inspired by other radical mental health projects out there
like the Icarus Project and Mad Pride. We ain’t mad as in angry, y’all, we just want to
reclaim the words that society has been using against us to make us feel like we are a
problem. Folks involved in the initial workshop and Mad Camp talked extensively about
creating a language that resonates with our lived experience. Some of us used
“psychovariance” instead of mental illness or disorder, because it implies that our
experiences fall outside the range of what society deems “normal.” Accordingly, it means
that ourselves are not the problem, but that society tends to pathologize anyone who
doesn’t conform to its standard of “mental health.” These standards, unfortunately, also
exist in radical communities. For us to work on moving past this kind of oppressive
behavior there would need to be a collective and conscious shift in the ways we support
people’s variance.

With so many root causes of mental health problems and the varying ways our
psycho-emotional needs pervade our lives, it’s important that we don’t push folks out of
our communities and the EF! movement because of what they’re going through.
Compassion teaches us to be present, be active listeners, be healers and confidants to
our peers who have been harmed or are hurting from the battle of their mind. Our
collective compassion will lead us to the realization that when someone is in distress, it’s
a calling for mutual support and care. Sometimes “self-care” means “deal with your shit
yourself.” Ultimately, this mindset has, and will continue to, push people out of our
communities, a mathematical equation that over time does not help our movement
grow. In addition, that mentality invariably means greater pain and isolation. Usually
the best thing to do is simply to listen, and let others know they are not alone. If you
want to support someone whose mental health affects you personally, your collective or
affinity group, especially if you don’t struggle with your own mental health to the same
degree, I suggest you ask that person if there’s anything you can do to support them.

In conclusion: we can do this, we can grow as a movement in numbers, continue to be a
threat and a road block on the path of a destructive society, and we can learn how to
effectively support each other. Without the amazing folks who initiated the first TWAC
it’s true that some folks may have left this movement, never to return again. Let’s
continue to collectively create safe(r) spaces for all the folks drawn to the frontlines of
eco-defense and really have each other’s back in the struggle for a wild and free world
for us all to grow old in. Then let’s have a workshop on what an EF! retirement
community looks like (Rocking Chair Camp!)

Updates on the CPV Power Plant fight

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Following the blockade of the main entrance to the power plant site in December of 2015, the HVEF! collective continues to support and engage with the growing community resistance to this project in Orange County. Luckily for us, we are not alone in this. For the past several months numbers at the weekly pickets have been growing and support for the “Wawayanda Six” as they’ve been dubbed, has been steady from folks across the region. As one of the blockaders Maddie Shaw stated after the last court date on the 21st, “This looks like it’s becoming a movement!

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The night before the arraignment of the folks arrested, Sustainable Warwick organized a forum/debate on the CPV.  issue. While we think the time is WAY past debate, the event brought in hundreds (perhaps in large part due to big names present), which will hopefully be inspired to get more involved. Our friend James Cromwell has certainly been helpful in gaining media attention for the issue, which we greatly appreciate.

SW Forum

As phase 1 the project continues (“site preparation” no buildings yet) and more folks get involved, the question for us becomes more glaring; when will the next blockade or direct action happen? While this remains to be seen, we will continue to build bridges with other community members and forge our own path as well. Just like the recent home demo we participated in last week to fight Skanska, a company building the power plant we are fighting locally and an underground animal lab in Seattle, we aim to make connections with other struggles and build an ecological resistance movement here in the Hudson Valley bioregion that has teeth.

Stay tuned! Study Up! and go outside!

 

 

 

 

Support Grumble’s health care and recuperation expenses

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Please donate to support Grumbles’ health care and recuperation expenses. Grumble has been cooking with Seeds of Peace for decades. His cooking has provided nourishment and community building for social movements across the country. Also for 30 + years, he has been involved in countless direct action campaigns to protect mountain tops, roadless wilderness, sacred sites, and for justice and liberation for all peoples and the planet.

He’s donated his time, kitchen skills, blockade expertise, and his endearing grumbling for free and now needs support from his community–us. We are trying to raise $10,000. Please donate whatever you are able to help him with some time sensitive health care expenses. 

Share this link with your networks and if we meet our goal soon, Grumble has promised to share a video of the current dance routine he’s been working on (right grumble?)

Thank you!

Hundreds visit Ceo of Skanska’s home – No New Animal Lab keeps up the pressure!

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During this weekends #‎StormSkanska‬ ‪#‎SwarmNY‬ events, hundreds march on Skanska CEO Richard Cavallaro’s house in Huntington NY on Saturday to protest their plans to build an underground animal testing lab on the university of Washington campus in Seattle.  This comes one day after approximately 170 activists, including acclaimed actor and Hudson Valley resident James Cromwell, gathered outside of Skanska USA headquarters, located on the 32nd floor of the Empire State Building, to protest the construction of the lab.

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Cavallaro was home with private security, but folks were determined to disrupt his peace and quiet and expose his dirty little secret to his neighbors. He definitely felt the pressure and was clearly not happy with our presence. His horrified face staring down the mass protest outside his house was all the indication we needed to know that we stirred the hornet’s nest.

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Two  people were arrested and released for trespass, including a member of Hudson Valley Earth First! and will need continued support. Please consider donating to our action fund to help fund our efforts to participate in actions like these, as well as continue our fight against the CPV Power Plant, also being built by Skanska

This mass action was  organized by the No New Animal Lab Campaign with support from the NYC Animal Defense League. This weekend was a culmination of a year of an intense pressure campaign to get Skanska to cancel their contract with the University of Washington and save hundreds of animals from Unncessary and cruel practices inside the lab if built.

It is far from over and expect more from this campaign. check out their facebook for updates and see who’s house they visited today!

This lab will NOT be built!

 

Interview with No New Animal Lab: Building Capacity, Embracing Repression

from It’s Going Down

The questions of building capacity through struggle and also how to deal with repression that we know comes from radical action and organizing are two central conversations revolutionary autonomous movements need to be having in the current period. One such group attempting to do this is the No New Animal Lab campaign. Since the Green Scare, the group contends that the animal liberation and ecological defense movement has by and large been dismantled and the small forces that are left have been consolidated by NGOs and non-profits. Rejecting this top-down model, No New Animal Lab is seeking instead to rebuild the animal liberation movement by generating capacity around a campaign to stop the construction of an underground animal research lab. Learning from past groups such as the Stop Huntington Animal Cruelty (SHAC) campaign, the group is making headway with planned large scale actions happening in the coming weeks, and has already pulled off a string of actions and a nationwide tour. While we encourage everyone to get involved in the campaign, we feel like the lessons, conversations, and questions generated around this interview should gain a wide audience from people involved in a wide variety of struggles. We also strongly encourage people to give the interview with NNAL by the Final Straw a listen, if you haven’t already

IGD: Can you start off by telling us about the campaign, the key players involved, the goals of the campaign, and also a brief history of what types of actions have already happened up until now?

NNAL: No New Animal Lab is a pressure campaign to stop the University of Washington (UW) and its general contractor, Skanska USA, from building an underground animal research lab.

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Skanska is the primary target of the campaign. Its role in construction provides a weak, but essential, link in project development. Construction management is required for UW, but Skanska is not particularly invested in this project out of the dozens and dozens it manages—amounting to billions in revenue—across the U.S. Skanska is also one of the largest construction companies in the world, in terms of operating revenue, and is publicly traded on stock markets. That means that Skanska is vulnerable to shareholder perception, disruption of profit making, and public and client opinion. Targeting Skanska opens up grassroots campaigning to the capitalist market, which can be very dynamic for developing effective strategies.

UW is also a target, but it has a high degree of investment in the project, which makes it a less strategic target for the campaign. Campaign pressure against the UW is intentionally narrowly focused on University leadership—President, Provost, Vice Provost, and the Board of Regents—those have decision-making power and who are accountable to public image rather than the animal researchers who lobbied them to approve the lab construction. A key component of pressure against the UW is to let some sunlight in on how the UW operates (with the leadership essentially acting as puppets for the animal researchers who stand to profit from the grant funding that a new lab could bring) and to let the public see the self-interest that guides corrupt decision-making.

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NNAL Tour comes home; hundreds #MarchOnUW and #StormSkanska http://bit.ly/1PfNHd2

The campaign is made up of a grassroots network of animal liberation advocates and supporters. No New Animal Lab is an overarching strategy and narrative, but those who actually engage in the campaign are autonomous groups and individuals who use a diversity of tactics, set their own timelines, and organize their own actions. The campaign has seen direct action on the construction site, home demonstrations against executives, banner drops, multiple mass demonstrations, protests at shareholder meetings, protests at corporate offices, and additional creative and spontaneous actions. The campaign is a bit over a year old now, and has been escalating steadily since day one with participation growing immensely.

IGD: In past interviews, people involved in the campaign have talked about using it as a way to build capacity within radical movements. How are you doing this? Can you talk about what building capacity means and why it is important? In what ways do radical social movements now, in your opinion, fail at building capacity in their struggles? In what ways do you think we could turn this around? How can we move beyond just moving from one thing to the next and build a material force?

NNAL: No New Animal Lab refuses to engage with the existing infrastructure of animal advocacy in the U.S. The animal “rights” movement’s capacity is structured around large NGOs, which siphon grassroots resources through intensive branding, fundraising, and control of the dialogue surrounding animal rights issues. The capacity to be an effective movement exists; it is just vertically organized to prop up nonprofits. Utilizing their resources—their posters, their flyers, their slogans, their narratives, their politics—only strengthens the framework and further impedes the movement’s ability to build something different.
The momentum of struggle is usually stifled by one of two things: political repression (which most radical organizers attempt to be acutely aware of) and assimilation or cooptation (which more subtly erodes capacity by reorganizing it in ways that are acceptable to the structures of power and the need to increase funding). Cooptation creates pressure release valves through diluted and obscured forms of advocacy and politics.So we reject it. We work with a network of activists with shared politics and analysis. The campaign was built upon a foundation of face-to-face relationships (in contrast with social media-based relationships), radical coalitions, and mutual support and solidarity. And when it came time to organize a campaign across a network of radical animal liberation activists, we already had the blueprint. We develop our own narratives and critical thought, work with great designers for original art and design work, print our own literature and newsletters, and we support those in the network doing the same. We don’t require NNAL events to be branded with NNAL materials. This is where local and regional organizers matter. That is a way to build capacity in a horizontal way.

In contrast, building effective capacity necessarily means horizontal organizing—grassroots networks, coalition politics, solidarity, and anti-oppression. Those are pillars of this campaign, and we have been using the campaign as a vehicle to reinforce them. We focus on networked actions, organizing tours, trainings and workshops—all things that help to build capacity from the ground up and make for a movement that is more resistant to the temptation to sell out or to the risk of collapsing under repression.

IGD: In your interview with the Final Straw, you mention several times how the Green Scare has impacted radical movements, but also that NNAL wants to get away from living in fear of that repression. Can you talk more in depth about this? How did the radical movements respond to the Green Scare? What lessons should be learned from these responses?

NNAL: After the AETA, the SHAC7, and the Green Scare—the culmination of “terrorization”—the animal liberation movement struggled to regain footing and a sense of direction. Look at the contrast between now and even 15 years ago: vegan advocacy and education has risen out of the ashes of a movement organized around support for diversity of tactics, underground resistance, and pressure campaigns. The movement has lost much of its horizontal network of grassroots radical groups; it has been replaced by a few large nonprofit organizations, which scale success with donations and the distribution of vegan recipe books. Resources have been reorganized vertically. Dissent has been assimilated into the nonprofit industrial complex. Substantive challenges to animal enterprises have been largely quelled.

Collectively, our movement response has actually served the interests of the State. Our obsession with our own repression and the fallacies that we construct about undoing it have become epicenters of fear, misinformation, and misdirection. The impact has arguably been the consolidation of manageable and neutralized activism, consumer politics, and the disappearance of effective organizing. Lacking a substantive critique of State power or capitalism, our insular organizing has fallen short of actually resisting the roots of repression. Instead we built on our preconceived notions of exceptionalism, turning out stagnant tactics and vegan-washing from the vacuum of solidarity.

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We have to deconstruct the very word “terrorism,” to not let it remain the monster that it has been. It’s a word that the State uses to apply to whatever it currently wants people to fear, and we can’t fall into that trap. If the State is going to try to scare us out of advocating for liberation and breaking open cages, then we need to respond by building up a stronger defense—organize across movement lines, show solidarity with others who experience State repression, and prove to the State that their attempts to stifle dissent will only be met with a more committed fight back. Their repression should be our motivation, our reminder of how desperately critical it is that we organize effective resistance.The animal liberation movement needs to understand that “terrorism,” as well as criminality, is a construction—a function of power. In regard to animal enterprises, underground direct action such as releasing animals or damaging property are extremely effective at disrupting profits. Similarly, the diversity of tactics utilized in campaigns like SHAC (which we model NNAL after) also inserted themselves into the market, becoming risk factors for the entire industry despite the fact that only a minority of activity was illegal or underground. Yet the State’s narrative for both is underpinned by anti-terrorist rhetoric, because they are only concerned with criminalizing, ostracizing, and condemning effective resistance and dissent—not animal activism, not mink releases, not home demos, not broken windows, and certainly not something as inane as “compassion.”

IGD: In the same interview, you discussed how repression pushed people off the streets and back into lifestyle or consumer politics. In many ways, this mirrors the rise and fall of many other movements; the crushing of the Occupy camps comes to mind. What are your thoughts about how radical social struggles can overcome this rise and fall motion from repression? How can we be ready before repression comes our way, as it inevitably will?

NNAL: Repression is part of the landscape. It’s not something to be avoided, but we can do a much better job of navigating it once we know it’s there and understand how it works. This is a tricky thing for animal activists to get. We seem to think that repression is our novelty, our burden because we have heralded ourselves as the most progressive, compassionate people on the planet. Repression is so much more than targeted legislation or increased arrests. For marginalized communities, repression is part of their daily reality and their material lives. It is not elective. For animal advocates, it is. We choose to organize, to protest, and to associate with other animal advocates. We can walk away. We are not the ones suffering in captivity, being cut open in the name of science, or being skinned alive in the name of fashion. Ours is one of solidarity, so we experience repression as this contingency and departure. We can easily divorce from advocacy, but so many cannot divorce from their lives, struggles, families, and communities.

Rather than resist the tangible impacts of repression, we should strive to understand the context that these dynamics are set against. We have to normalize repression as a part of effective organizing…but we’ve so far struggled to do this.

The animal “rights” movement doesn’t understand the nature of repression, so we don’t really know how to prepare for and organize in spite of it. If we can actually understand its inevitability as a part of challenging the status quo, then we can traverse the social and political landscape of advocacy and resistance. So we have to normalize repression. Until then, our talk about solidarity is almost meaningless. Solidarity doesn’t exist in a vacuum, yet we are perfectly fine with pretending that animal advocacy does.

That’s the narrative contained in “green is the new red”, “compassion is not terrorism”, or “activism is not terrorism”—mantras that the movement offers as supposed resistance to the normalization. We read our own history—from inception to repression—as insular phenomena. At best, this isolates us from our context, our potential allies, and ourselves while erasing the specific oppressions and repressions faced by many other communities as aspects of their realities. At worst, we actually reinforce the State’s narrative about terrorism and criminality, and its power to violently act on those definitions, by legitimizing the idea that terrorism exists but that it’s not us…completely ignoring that terrorism is manufactured by those at the top of power structures, and we need to stop perpetuating the dynamics set up by those at the top.

We cannot escape repression. Rather, embracing and understanding it is our best defense.

IGD: From groups fighting fascists to fracking, many could benefit from the models that have been used by the animal liberation movement. Why strategies do you think could be employed in a wide variety of struggles?

NNAL: We refer to our model as “pressure campaigning.” Although animal “rights” campaigns in recent decades have done a lot to develop the pressure campaign model, and have even inspired that framework outside of AR circles post-SHAC, pressure campaigns themselves are the products of community organizing beyond the animal liberation movement. Despite the specific terminology, the model extends at least as far back as the 1970s, into labor, anti-racist, and civil rights organizing in the South. The Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union (ACTWU) campaign against J.P. Stevens really laid the strategic and tactical foundation for confronting large corporations through grassroots efforts. In the 1990s, the anti-sweatshop and anti-globalization campaigning against Nike illustrated the major economic effect that corporate campaigns can have if organized strategically against the accumulation of capital.

Pressure campaigning is about challenging power and capital. The strategy is to leverage pressure against very powerful institutions by using a diversity of tactics to disrupt the systems that the institutions depend on. So pressure is applied at particular points in the system—executive decision, economic investment, capital accumulation. The strategy strings together the most vulnerable points into a coherent game plan, and the tactics exploit them relentlessly. Because nearly everything is tied to these oppressive systems, this strategy is potentially useful across a wide variety of movements.

By their nature, pressure campaigns are susceptible to backlash through criminalization, litigation (SLAPPs), and shifts in the market. Pressure is easily ruptured and absorbed if channeled in repetitious and monotonous ways, through narrowly defined strategy and tactics. Corporations can shift capital and investments, file for injunctions against organizers, or lobby for laws targeted against campaigns. Law enforcement agencies can criminalize organizers and place them under surveillance. That is the playing field. The best way to navigate these dynamics is for a campaign to invest in a diversity of tactics, and to explicitly build an architecture in which underground direct action compliments other tactics and the overall strategy. As an extension of that, pressure campaigns should have solid security practices, legal support infrastructure, and a framework of prisoner support.

As an important footnote, a common conflation exists between radical pressure campaigning and long-term anti-capitalist organizing. Although pressure campaigns are usually rooted in anti-capitalist analysis, they are not prefigurative in their approach. Pressure campaigns do not actually challenge capitalism itself, instead exploiting market dynamics for political leverage by disrupting processes of accumulation, the threat of which would not exist without the capitalist system. So they have limitations beyond fighting specific institutions embedded in a global capitalist society.

IGD: Many have discussed at length the problems of a demand-based strategy in regards to struggle. What is your take in regards to the work that the campaign is involved in?

NNAL: Critiques of demand-based approaches are largely semantic, though there are definitely some material issues to be parsed out from the rhetoric. This was actually one of the primary discussion points during the To Change Everything Tour, when we shared space with them at Burning Books in Buffalo. Crimethinc attempts to offer a comprehensive critique in the essay, “Why We Don’t Make Demands.”

There is a lot to say about “demands,” and there is some truth to the discourse. It is true that State power and capital, through its NGO proxies, is able to co-opt and assimilate movements. But it’s speculative to conflate seeking substantive gains with that cooptation. These critiques are creating a false dichotomy between long-term efficacy and prefiguration on the one hand, and short-term campaigning and setting material goals on the other. Although a vast amount of advocacy work fits within this dichotomy, and is rightly critiqued for being ineffective and legitimizing oppressive institutions, campaigns or struggles that use “demands” are not necessarily subject to those pitfalls. Criticisms of “demand-based” strategies are set up as straw-man arguments. It presumes that short-term gains are centered by social movements, therefore they are disconnected from the long-term visions, which are the last anchors of radicalism, and easily subjected to co-optation and the reification of power.

We can look to examples that delegitimize this position. No One Is Illegal is a great example. NOII operates out of a very radical prefigurative politics—embodied in the name itself, in rhetoric such as, “Canada Is Illegal”, in acknowledgements of occupied indigenous land, and in their mission statement: “we strive and struggle for the right to remain, the freedom to move, and the right to return.” NOII could hardly be said to be ineffective or impotent. On the contrary, they have been incredibly effective and have garnered the broad alliance-based support of the radical left, First Nations, migrant workers, refugees, anti-capitalists, feminists, and the queer community, much to the dismay of Canadian and European governments.

No One Is Illegal organizes campaigns, through which they achieve very real, impactful, and meaningful victories. Status For All, Access Without Fear, and Abolish Security Certificates are all examples of campaigns that utilize a diversity of tactics and exploit the systematics of state institutions to make substantive and material gains for migrant workers, refugees, and asylum seekers, while simultaneously challenging the system of border imperialism. NOII makes demands, both impossible and realistic, to prefigure a world of liberation and self-determination while achieving victories that are sometimes the difference between life and death. Not making those demands, out of abstractions of ideology, can only be understood through the lens of privilege.

Campaigns do not negate radical visions. Organized properly, they should be iterations of those visions, of the world we struggle for. Campaigns should be specific instances of resistance, set with timelines, goals, and yes, demands, in concert with the background of struggles against entire systems of oppression.

IGD: Getting out of set “scene” is a goal for many radical movements. In what ways has No New Animal Labs come up against this and succeeded or failed?

NNAL: The animal advocacy “scene” is fraught with limitations and problematic elements. In the last decade or so, it seems the only interfaces for the “movement” have been donation drives for large NGOs, social media and viral marketing, vegan education, and, most disturbingly, vegan capitalism. So under the banner of veganism, the “scene” provides cover for some egregious players who shore up support for anything from Israeli occupation, land theft, border militarization, criminalization of undocumented migrants, exploitation of produce workers, anti-black racism, and incursions on indigenous sovereignty. Unfortunately, the specific examples are almost endless, but that’s another questions for another time.

So, as a campaign and as animal liberation organizers, we do out best to distance ourselves from the scene through our organizing approach. We focus on building horizontal networks, coalitions with communities outside the traditional realm of animal advocacy, solidarity with other struggles, and fostering an anti-oppression praxis. Hopefully No New Animal Lab can act as a model for the movement to organize around, displacing the tired, ineffective, and frankly fucked up tendencies of the old “scene.” Given the state of the world, it is really imperative that animal liberation be entirely reframed through the lens of anti-capitalist and anti-colonial resistance, shedding the Eurocentric and potentially oppressive framework of animal “rights” as it has been conceived over the last century. That’s certainly the goal.

IGD: You all did a US tour around the same time that Crimethinc was doing their ‘To Change Everything‘ tour. What was something that you took from touring the US? What did you learn on your trip?

NNAL: Touring is such a great avenue for movement building. Touring can be a bunch of protests. Touring can be a series of workshops. Touring can be networking meetings. In our case, this last summer’s No New Animal Lab Tour was all of the above.

This is not the first time that we’ve done tours. 2014’s Fight or Flight Tour, a collaborative project of The Bunny Alliance (which has since folded into other projects), Resistance Ecology, and the Earth First! Journal was what laid the foundation for the new networking project and more specifically the No New Animal Lab campaign.

Both tours were windows into the state of the animal liberation movement. It’s not pretty. It’s disheartening to see a once vibrant movement so fragmented, both geographically and generationally; so disproportionately invested in social media; so stifled by its own myths and misunderstandings about repression; so dislocated from the land; despite claiming an interconnected understanding of nonhuman equality, falling so short of understanding the systemic origins of mass animal captivity, suffering, and exploitation on this continent; and so willing to sacrifice the most marginalized and vulnerable human communities for perceived gains for animals, handed down from state power.

But the tours are also amazing. There are so many really great folks that we’ve met on the road and built strong on-going relationships with, and a lot of promising things are emerging across the country for animals. There are a lot of organizers with really solid politics, who practice coalition building and solidarity, who organize in spite of the specter of the Green Scare. But the overall state of the movement is still embodied in those disconcerting observations. It’s fodder though, fodder for building something real, something that actually challenges animal enterprises as manifestations of a long history of land theft and occupation, settler colonialism, and brutal capitalist exploitation. So tours have been a bit of a double-edged sword; the movement just needs to identify it and learn how to use it. Then we can do some damage.

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IGD: What can people expect from the campaign in the coming future? What big actions are coming up and how can people plug into the campaign?

NNAL: January 15-17, join us in New York for our upcoming mass convergence, #StormSkanska: Swarm New York, which we are co-organizing with New York City Animal Defense League. Skanska USA is headquartered in Manhattan and many of their most important and influential executives live in the surrounding areas, including the President and CEO Richard Cavallaro. Previously, our focus for mass action has been in Seattle, targeting the University of Washington. But as the campaign against Skanska has increasingly become the focus of energy and resources, it was inevitable that it would escalate towards masses swarming the sanctuary of these indifferent, power-hungry, capitalist executives—New York. This will be our most important public action to date, so if you are capable, do everything that you can join us. Do not willingly miss this event.

There are a lot of ways to plug into the campaign. We have targets listed on our website, even providing an interactive map of Skanska locations through the country. Organize a protest at an office, organize an action, write letters to UW and Skanska, share and follow us on social media. We regularly share and post ways to get involved—protests, fundraisers, online and phone actions, etc. Our website lists upcoming events. Contact organizers locally. Get in touch with us if you want help starting something fresh. We offer trainings in anything from legal (“know your rights”) information to campaign research and development.

Diversity of tactics—that is the key. If you want to act, you do not need to wait. Just follow the campaign strategy and think creatively about what compliments all of the other activity and organizing. The campaign is an umbrella for tactical diversity and creative action. So apply pressure. Take action. Be smart. Be safe.

IGD: Thanks so much and good luck in New York!

Check out No New Animal Labs here and here.

Kalahari Kgalagadi wildlife threatened by Fracking

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Re-posted from an HVEF! comrade and local activist’s petition to ban fracking in the Kalahari -Kgalagadi Wildlife Park 

Editors note: While we generally don’t promote petitions for their inadequate efficacy, we appreciate our friend’s efforts and hope fracking in this unique and bio-diverse area never takes root, by any means necessary)

The Kalahari Desert area, located on the border of Botswana and South Africa, is a rare and fragile ecosystem, home to unusual species such as the cheetah, black-maned Kalahari lion, gemsbok antelope, and pygmy falcon. 36,000 sq km of this ecosystem are contained in Kgalagadi Transfrontier Peace Park on the borders of Botswana and South Africa.

Secretively, and without the knowledge or consent of park officials or scientists, the Botswana government and a UK based company, now known as KAROO energy, engaged in a deal to permit fracking in the park.

Preliminary drilling is now underway. If left to continue, the usual effects of fracking, which include irreparable water, soil & air toxification, as well as heavy traffic & noise pollution, will occur in this dry habitat, now home to these rare species that require large undisturbed areas to feed, breed, and migrate, and will likely lead to the demise and even extinction of these beautiful species.

These species have their own intrinsic rights to live, and their ecosytem is a treasure to be respected & protected for present and future generations. A wildlife park is, and should be, just that, NOT a toxic industrial or mining operation.

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