Andy and buddy on the beach.
Andy Stepanian is one of six activists known as the SHAC 7 who were convicted under the federal Animal Enterprise Protection Act for their involvement in the Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC) campaign in the U.S. SHAC’s target was the notorious animal testing lab Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS), which uses roughly 70,000 animals per year for product-testing. The strategic campaign effectively threatened the financial stability of one of the world’s most profitable research laboratories, which brought it to the attention of the federal government. The FBI launched an intense investigation that landed six activists in federal court, accused of charges of conspiracy. As a result, more aggressive legislation specifically targeting animal activism, the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, was passed in 2006 to safeguard animal enterprises in the future.
While no living creature was harmed by their actions, the U.S. SHAC activists were sentenced to one to six years in federal prison. To date, all but one defendant have been released. Lauren Gazzola was released to a halfway house last Wednesday. Kevin Kjonaas remains incarcerated. Their case is currently under appeal.
Andy was released a year ago and now works as a publicist. He will be giving a rare public talk about his personal experience this coming Tuesday at NYU, “Muzzling A Movement: Free Speech, Animal Protection and Terrorism Prosecutions,” with the author Dara Lovitz. Cat Clyne caught up with Andy at Atlas Cafe to check in on how he’s been doing and what he’s been up to.
In a nutshell, what is next Tuesday’s talk about?
Muzzling a Movement is a new book by Dara Lovitz coming out by Lantern Books in September. It covers the breadth of how laws have failed animals. On the prosecutorial end, laws are failing animals in the sense that animal welfare groups that are trying to prosecute animal abusers are facing increased opposition. Laws are also failing animals in the sense that new “designer” legislation is being passed to directly combat animal activism. Continue Reading…