In December 2006, the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) announced its decision to list Life Sciences Research, Inc. on its all-electronic anonymous trading platform Arca. In response to the listing, the Stop Huntington Animal Cruelty Campaign (SHAC) and the Win Animal Rights (WAR) group have renewed operations against the NYSE, vowing to continue their efforts until the exchange reconsiders its decision to list the company.
Life Sciences Research Inc., a New Jersey-based medical research firm, is the parent company of Huntington Life Sciences (HLS), a scientific research firm that uses animals in its research to develop cures for diseases such as cancer and AIDS. Animal rights activists have long targeted HLS, as well as companies and individuals connected to or associated with the firm. Specifically, SHAC activists have employed various methods such as intimidation, physical violence, vandalism, and identity theft in an effort to force the company to stop its animal research activities.
The NYSE was previously targeted by animal rights groups when the exchange first began to consider listing Life Sciences Research Inc. in 2005. Animal rights groups launched numerous protests and harassed individual employees of the NYSE, trading groups, and other financial services providers. SHAC posted the contact information of hundreds of NYSE employees on its website, and the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) claimed responsibility for acts of vandalism at two New York City yacht clubs used by employees of a financial firm that intended to trade shares of Life Sciences Research. Due to activist pressure and intimidation, the NYSE pulled the listing minutes before the opening bell on September 7, 2005.
In April 2006, the New York Times ran a full-page ad that accused the NYSE of yielding to terrorist threats from animal rights activists, prompting the exchange to reconsider the listing.
SHAC launched “Operation Fight Back” in January 2007 as part of its renewed campaign against the NYSE. In a statement on the group’s website, SHAC activists are instructed to focus on specific targets, divided into two categories. Category 1 includes the NYSE and its European counterpart Euronext. It states, “These people have their hands drenched in the blood of the animals inside HLS. They are THE prime target.” Category 2 includes NYSE shareholders, specialists, and members. However, activists are instructed to only target this group if simultaneous action is taken against those in category 1 or if no primary targets are located in the area of the activist. In order to achieve these goals, the names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses for approximately 200 companies considered targets are listed on SHAC’s website.
WAR, a radical animal rights group based in New York City, also launched a campaign against the NYSE in January 2007 called “Operation Helter Skelter.” According to the group’s website, WAR is devoted to forcing the closure of HLS, and states,
“… each individual is responsible and accountable for the crimes and atrocities that they commit at work. As a consequence, we firmly believe in taking the fight for animal liberation to the home turf of the animal abusers and exploiters, facing them head on, where they work, where they live and where they recreate.”
In various communiqués posted on the SHAC and WAR websites, numerous protests and demonstrations have already taken place in the Wall Street area, as well as at the homes of various executives of the NYSE and other associated companies.
While the current campaign by SHAC and WAR against the NYSE has consisted primarily of protests, the possibility remains that activists will eventually use methods such as intimidation, vandalism, and other physical violence. In the past, SHAC activists have posted personal information of employees, to include Social Security numbers and bank information, as well as instructions for bypassing security at various firms’ offices on the group’s website. Additionally, activists have used smoke and pipe bombs to harass and intimidate companies connected to HLS. It is likely that animal activists will be emboldened by their previous success against the NYSE in 2005, prompting a prolonged campaign to once again force the exchange to remove the Life Sciences Research listing.