HIGHGATE FARM, ALF CAMPAIGN AGAINST A VIVISECTION RABBIT BREEDER

Last week we talked about a vivisection guinea pig breeder that was successfully shut down in Newchurch, UK, and we said we would carry on our ALFRIDAYS looking at other campaigns that targeted vivisection breeders. 



This time we don’t bring you a whole campaign history, but a single ALF action. We will talk about Highgate as a historical target in a different article. 



In January 2008 ALF volunteers accessed Highgate Farm, a vivisection breeder selling rabbits to laboratories. They had to pull a section of the roof to avoid the alarm system, and at the end of the night, they had managed to liberate 129 rabbits. Once finished with the animals, they targeted a quad, a lawnmower, a van and a sports car and sabotaged them all, causing around £100,000 worth of damage.

The action effectively convinced Geoff Douglas, owner of Highgate, to stop trading. Sadly he was later convinced by the police to resume his business, and in April 2009 it was reported that a £60,000 security system had been installed on the farm to deter animal liberation activists.

To this day, Highgate Farm is still operating in the quiet village of Normanby By Spital, Lincolnshire, and it is claimed to be one of the only standalone, -not connected to a lab or university – vivisection breeders in the UK (although that remains to be proven). 



A single activist was arrested, he refused to turn informant and was sent to prison accused of taking part in the raid. You can read his publication about it here:

https://insidethecages.noblogs.org/post/2014/10/21/inside-the-cages/

Although this single action did not shut down that farm and although rabbits are still being bred to be tortured in Highgate, there is something to be said about the diversity of tactics during campaigning and how strong the concept of direct action has been to tackle vivisection.

Direct action against vivisection didn’t just achieve its primary focus of liberating and causing damage to an animal experimentation business but also aided to give a choice to animal abusing scum. Either talk to the above-ground campaigners and turn your business around or face the wrath of the underground movement. 



Below is the report that was sent to BiteBack after the ALF action. The video attached to it is the footage obtained by activists inside the farm whilst liberating the rabbits.



“06.01.2008, Highgate Rabbit Farm, Highgate, Normanby-by-Spital, Lincolnshire, UK.

During the midnight hours of 6th January 2008, A.L.F volunteers gained entry to a rabbit breeder who provides animals to suffer and die in the miserable vivisection industry. Customers of this breeder include HLS and several UK Universities.

A ventilation fan was forcibly removed to evade the alarm systems on the doors. Inside rabbits were lined in barren cages breathing in the stench of shit and urea, waiting to be tortured to death in animal testing labs. But tonight, the activists had a more compassionate fate for them. A total of 129 rabbits were loaded in friendship groups into bags and taken immediately to safety. Never will they have to know or experience an experimental facility or university lab. Some of the rabbits were visibly excited when they reached their new lives, playing in the straw and eating carrots happily.

We couldn’t leave without saying a proper good bye! On site we found a quad bike with trailer plus a lawnmower. All tyres were popped, locks glued, expanding foam in the exhaust, and were paintstripped. Next, we found a large white van obviously used as part of the sickening business. We redecorated it with nice new paint work, paintstripper, glued locks, popped tyres, and expanding foam up the exhaust. We also found a rather posh sports car parked outside the house which also had a little makeover just like the van.

2008 – TIME TO SMASH VIVISECTION INTO OBLIVION”

THE SIEGE OF DARLEY OAKS, SAVE THE NEWCHURCH GUINEA PIGS (2005)

Like the current campaign to Free the MBR Beagles, Britain’s animal liberation movement has seen a few other campaigns to shut down places that were breeding animals for vivisection. In future ALFridays we will have a look at farms targeted for breeding monkeys or rabbits, but we thought Newchurch Guineapig Farm was an interesting case study for folks to learn about.

In 1999, the ALF liberated around six hundred guinea pigs from a farm in Newchurch, Staffordshire, and released a video investigation of the condition inside the sheds. The video would spark a campaign lasting six years with the only aim to Save the Newchurch Guinea Pigs.

Very loud demonstrations were common in Darley Oaks, with folks attending from all around the country to keep pressure on the farm owner. Those demos would not always consist of folks with banners and drums, and in many occasions people would attempt to breach through and break into the farms, even granting police helicopters to stop them.

Slow and steady, many secondary targets gave up their involvement with Mr Hall, who would have to give up any income he was producing by breeding turkeys for the meat industry, dairy and even his crops. Interestingly he probably would’ve been left alone if he had given up the guinea pig enterprise and carried on exploiting animals in other ways, but his firm conviction to keep producing animals for vivisection would ultimately translate in the total collapse of his business.

During a period of two years, the police logged in more than 450 separate ‘criminal’ acts related to the campaign. From telephone and electricity poles cut around the farm to paint stripper and graffiti over worker’s cars, anonymous people made clear their frustration about the breeding of guinea pigs for vivisection. Twelve workers ended up quitting because of the targeted campaign, with many others installing security systems, CCTV and even metal shutters in their private homes.

In October 2004, the remains of Christopher Hall’s mother-in-law were dug up and removed. Many groups organising for the campaign publicly spoke up against the action.

By August 2005, Mr Hall announced that due to that last action he was going to shut down the farm for good.

Whilst not everybody would agree with all the factions of the campaign (underground or overground), there is no doubt that Save the Newchurch Guinea Pigs, piggybacking of other campaigns like Shamrock, Consort and Hillgrove did a fantastic job at stopping that vile family from breeding for vivisection.

IT’S A DOGS LIFE. A DOCUMENTARY THAT CHANGED EVERYTHING

WARNING: THIS VIDEO CONTAINS DISTRESSING IMAGES OF VIVISECTION.

It’s a Dogs Life is a documentary produced during the 1990s in the UK by a main TV Channel where a journalist goes undercover at a testing facility, filming the day to day of a testing facility for Beagle Dogs.

This documentary would be a huge catalyser in the anti vivisection movement in the UK, resulting in SHAC becoming a world wide campaign.

It is interesting to think that whilst the documentary had no aim to discredit vivisection, it fuelled such a reaction that a massive campaign would grow out of it, with thousands of people fighting against vivisection and state repression becoming so tangible that laws were specifically tailored to stop SHAC from carrying on.

With anti vivisection campaigning growing fast once again, we felt that this documentary was a very appropriate watch as a reminder of what animals go through in the “name of science”.

ALFRIDAYS – VIVISECTION BREEDER RAIDED, OVER 150 BIRDS RELEASED (2001)

A recently resurfaced video showing a raid in a vivisection breeding facility in Iowa (USA), where pigeons, ducks and geese were released. Extensive economic sabotage was done to the farm as well as taking breeder tags from the farm.

Whilst grainy, this is quite a good video showcasing the action of just a few individuals to free animals from vivisection. That raid was the second the farm had received.

Another interesting point to note is the fact that the report very clearly mentioned the name of the farm and their address, ensuring that everybody knew where the breeding facility was. This used to be a standard in ALF reports which is not seen very often in actions now.

Adding to that point, a quick search on google maps (aint that some sort of evil?) shows that the place is still breeding animals and most certainly keeping birds in aviaries. Their purpose remains unknown.

You can read the report published after the action below:

“In the early morning hours of October 18, 2001, the Animal Liberation Front visited Double T Farms (21655 Barrus Rd., Glenwood, Iowa.), a breeder of birds for vivisection.

We located the pigeon shed, and cut through the wire mesh perimeter. 62 pigeons were found and released. These pigeons were destined for a cruel and senseless death at the hands of vivisectors.

All possible nesting boxes were emptied, and breeder tags were removed from each bird. The shed was also damaged. A second aviary containing ducks and geese was located, and 50 yards of netting cut away, allowing approximately 50 birds held captive within to escape.

A third aviary holding approximately 50 geese was similarly ripped apart, and those geese who did not immediately take flight were picked up and taken outside.

Approximately 162 birds were released.

This is the A.L.F.’s second visit to Double T Farms , and there will be further visits until Ted Golka’s operation is shut down.

Risking our freedom for theirs.
A.L.F.”

GREENHILL LABORATORY BREEDERS RAIDED ON MASS

Due to the recent developments in a Spanish laboratory, we felt it would be a good idea to remind folks about a victory that made the news around the world. 

On the 28th of April 2012 in Italy, and riding the wave of radicalism that SHAC had managed to create against vivisection, around 1000 people met to demonstrate against Green Hill, a beagle breeder selling dogs for vivisection. 

 The campaign wasn’t new, folks had been using many different tactics, from demos to underground liberations, to topple Green Hill. That day, tho, was exceptional, and it would shake the world with images of love and liberation. 

 While the demonstration didn’t seem too radical, once the people arrived at the perimeter fence of Green Hill things took a bit of a turn. Whilst many folks shouted at cops, shaking the fence and calling anyone inside the farm a murderer, a second group broke in on mass and liberated as many beagles as they could. 

 Images of smiling puppies being passed between the barbed wire, or the photo of someone with a beagle stuffed in the t-shirt whilst jumping the fence hit newspapers worldwide, and whilst some folks got caught and some dogs were stolen from activists, dozens of animals managed to escape a life of abuse, breeding and laboratory torture. 

 By no means we are suggesting that people organise a mass action where folks break into Vivotecnia in Madrid and release as many animals as possible as that would be terribly illegal, but hey, this is a piece of history we all can learn from! 

 The video starts slow. The end of the video is worth it. Give it a watch!   

ANIMAL WARFARE?

In 1986, Brass Tacks; Animal Warfare was published in the UK. This is a clip extracted from the document entry that showcases the Animal Liberation Leagues work in multiple laboratories, were hundreds of activists would organise to raid a place together, and in brad daylight. After months of watching and learning, hundreds of folk would break into a laboratory, or a breeding facility, to document, film, steal paperwork, cause economic damage and sometimes liberate animals.

You can see multiple highly functioning teams in action. From folks doing video and audio surveillance, to mass groups pushing their way into laboratories. Tim Phillips gives an interview where he explains the reasoning behind choosing specific tactics, and mentions “Within this laboratories animals have been tortured and died, and they have no say, their only hope is organisations such as ourselves. Arrogance or not, it’s a fact”.

It is also interesting to hear the figures of ALF activists in the UK. They claim about 1300 people involved in underground direct action in the aim of animal liberation. At the beginning of the video, you can read a quote from the ALF Bulletin n.11; “If it is necessary to smash and destroy every butcher’s shop in the land, the the ALF will do it.”

PS: Please note that David Henshaw, producing this documentary, spent quite a few years of his life attempting to link the ALF with the far right and Class War with nazis. Proceed with caution watching complete documentaries made by him.

THE RSPCA AGAINST THE ALF?

In this video from the very early 1990s we see a news clip on the attacks on butcher shops in Oxford (UK) as well as a discussion in studio with Robin Webb representing the RSPCA and John Curtin (former ALF activist). Interestingly enough, Robin Webb would become the ALF spokesperson after dropping his role in the RSPCA. Whilst there is no question that the RSPCA and the ALF would not see eye to eye run many things (even tho the RSPCA did assist in corroborating laboratory footage by the ALF and used in in their campaigns), looking at the chronology of this video in the broader UK animal liberation movement historical timer it would bring the question of how much that discussion was a way of appealing as many different folks as possible by presenting both arguments “opposing” each other.

As always, the talk carries on to bring up how consumers simply will change their butcher shop for a big supermarket counter, and that those animals suffer more, and that the best way of winning the British public is through education, law changing and advocacy.

The conversation is old and the arguments are the same, but this small news clip shows how maybe that diversity of tactics can be used even if it appears to be “against” each other, in order to further the struggle.


Some of the butcher shop attack reports can be read in multiple magazines archived in http://thetalonconspiracy.com

UNIVERSITY OF IOWA RAID, 2004.


On the 14th of November, 2004, ALF activists entered the University of Iowa’s psychology department and ensured that animals escaped the suffering whilst causing as much economic damage as they possibly could.

All 401 animals (88 mice and 313 rats) from the 3rd floor of the University of Iowa were taken. Computers, surgical equipment and paperwork was also destroyed in other laboratories in different floors.

This video, used as propaganda for the action, includes news reports as well as footage from the raid and showcases the damage caused as well as the animals being boxed up for transport.

The ALF activists wrote on their report: “This was not thoughtless vandalism but a methodical effort to cripple the UI psychology department’s animal research. Only equipment in rooms where animals were confined and tortured were targeted. Only computers belonging to or used in the work of vivisectors were destroyed. Only documents of animal researchers waere doused in acid. The acid a deliberately chosen paper dissolving agent. Our goal is total abolition of all animal exploitation. Achieved in the short term by delivering the 401 animals from UI’s chamber of hell. And in the extended term by shutting down the labs through the erasing of research and equipment used in the barbaric practice of vivisection. The entire raid was a careful and deliberate 5-pronged assault on UI’s animal research.”.

They sign the report with: “Let this message be clear to all who victimize the innocent: We’re watching. And by axe, drill, or crowbar — we’re coming through your door.

Stop or be stopped.

A.L.F.”

You can read the whole report and see almost 200 photos from the action on BiteBack Magazine’s website.

http://directaction.info/news_nov18_04.htm

1995, “ANIMAL WARS”. THE FIGHT AGAINST LIVE EXPORTS.

Documentary looking at the campaigns against the live export of calves from the Midlands and Suffolk. Features Carla Lane, Nancy Phipps, Pam Brown, Trevor Love and includes tribute to the late Jill Phipps who gave her life defending the animals.

It shows that the radical vs moderate conversation about campaigning is not a new thing with groups like CIWF and the Vegetarian Society rallying against doing demos at exporters’ addresses as that will not “make vegetarianism fashionable”.

Although this campaign managed to close down multiple live export points in the UK including Shoreham, Kent port still stands. Folks can hear more about the live exports campaign in the UK by following Kent Animal Defenders.

ALFRIDAYS – ANIMAL LIBERATION FRONT INVESTIGATIONS UNIT EXPOSE RABBIT MEAT FARM (05/11/2008)

CONTENT WARNING: The footage featured in the video is disturbing.

In 2008 a group of people calling themselves the ALF Investigation Unit broke into a farm in Berkshire UK and filmed the conditions of the rabbits being exploited inside. They took several rabbits as well as caused several thousand pounds worth of damage. This is the report that was released with the video:

“On the eve of Barry Horne’s death, a group of volunteers accessed a rabbit ‘meat’ farm in Berkshire, U.K. This farm used to harbour hundreds of rabbits in the back of converted box lorries, but have recently upgraded their bunny butchering enterprise to four permanent and highly intensive units. Semi-built and set to be filled with hundreds of rabbits, we entered the site and bypassed top security measures.. the key was left in the door!

One unit was so full of rubble and electricity cables we almost didn’t expect to find any animals in such conditions. Further inspection found rows of cages, many with rabbits inside. All living on wire, many rabbits were blind, had ears missing and were rotting alive inside this windowless hell.

Even within a legal system that legitimises animal abuse, this sicko has still managed to torture animals beyond any legal requirements. The unit was in total disrepair, flooded with a mix of water and excrement, with open electricity wires and strewn with litter. None of the units had ventilation or air conditioning systems, despite being newly built. This farm was an excellent example of what ‘animal welfare’ means for animals: fuck all.

Needless to say we decided to make some legal corrections. After taking several rabbits to safety, who are now recovering in loving homes, we turned our attention to stopping this ‘man’ filling any more cages with defenceless animals. We cut every empty cage into pieces. Fuse boxes and machinery were glued and filled with expanding foam. Messages were left on the outer walls and doors before we vanished back into the darkness with our newly acquired friends.

This action was carried out in the memory of Barry, who continues to be an inspiration to us all despite his death at the hands of the British government

ALF Investigations Unit”