As 700 people gathered in Huntingdon, Amanda Richards from SPEAK kicked of the speeches, reminding everyone of why we were in Huntingdon. HLS kill 500 animals every single day, and have been exposed time and again punching dogs, cutting open live primates, and generally abusing animals in more ways than a sane mind could imagine. Amanda spoke of the Newchurch campaign, which successfully closed the Staffordshire Guinea Pig farm, who shipped animals straight into the labs of HLS. For every new type of abuse conjured up inside these labs, activists found a new tactic, and it was this fluid, determined and imaginative approach which won the day. Next up was the ever charismatic Keith Mann, who reinforced the message that we must keep fighting for the animals inside HLS, and that there can be no stronger incentive than saving the lives of the innocent. Finally, Sarah Whitehead took to the stage and read an emotive and powerful letter from Heather Nicholson, currently remanded in prison simply for standing up and speaking out for the animals inside HLS.
On this passionate note, the march around Huntingdon began. And what a march!
The overwhelming feeling from the local people of Huntingdon was, "where have you been - we missed you!". One local resident who spotted the march approaching was overheard to say, "look at that... bloody beautiful". As we passed, scores of people cheered, clapped, raised their fists and thumbs in solidarity and waved leaflets. As the march weaved through the town center, several local people joined the rear guard. The noise and the visual presence was awesome, with banners as far as the eye could see, trailing all the way back through the town.
We were delighted to see the strength of feeling in the town of Huntigdon, and we thank the residents for making us feel so welcome!
We then travelled in convoy to the gates of hell themselves. The first time such numbers had attended the lab in many years. As people gathered, and tried to take in what they were seeing, Tom Harris from SHAC gave a rousing speech, urging everyone to take up the fight against HLS, and to not let up until we win. He spoke of the current lawsuit against HLS in which they are accused of falsifying data, the abuse of animals recently witnessed at interfauna, and the fact that, as Roche said, it is not a matter of if Huntingdon close it is a matter of when, and when HLS close is up to each and everyone one of us. Veteran activist John Curtin then told the gathered crown of the history of the campaign against HLS, regaling us with inspiring tales from before the SHAC campaign was even conceived. Finally Mel Broughton from SPEAK spoke, about how three SHAC campaigners are currently interned by the British government for nothing more than speaking out in defense of the animals inside HLS.
Then, for two hours, we vent our grief and our anger. The air was rent with noise, as for the first time in years we filled the night air outside HLS with the sound of megaphones, sirens, voices, whistles and drums.
This protest was amazing, for those who came, thank you on behalf of everyone of the 70,000 animals waiting to die inside HLS. To those who couldn't make it, you missed out, and we'll see you next time!