HILLGROVE FARM: actions and background
from SchNEWS 196, 18 December 1998
update 14th Aug 1999: Hill Grove Farm closed! Click here for full story
Tensions ran high again last Saturday, when Thames Valley police once again banned a demonstration at Hillgrove Farm, where cats are bred for vivisection. Denied the right to protest outside the farm by the cops, 500 demonstrators instead met at Oxford City centre where, in the words of one protester "they were met with nothing short of extreme brutality from Thames Valley police with mounted officers continually riding into the crowd It is worth remembering that it is the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which encompasses freedom of expression and assembly, yet in Britain Thames Valley Police ban yet another demonstration."
Thames Valley police defended the arrest of two photographers and a Television camera-crew by claiming that Press cards mean nothing. Thames Valley Police press officer Janet Malcomson claimed "Press cards are forged by animal rights activists and they pose as reporters." However, all press cards are registered at Scotland Yard with PIN digits known to the reporter in the event of any police query.
In response to the Police claims that protesters are posing as journalists photo-journalist Andrew Testa said, " The only people posing as anything else are the Police , when they dress up as activists." Undercover police wearing balaclavas and dark shades were spotted using hidden jacket video cameras to secretly videotape Hillgrove protestors. Only later did Thames Valley Police find out, the undercover cops were from the Met Police; What's going on here then?
Who said this? "Criminals who hurl rocks and petrol bombs at police officers - and police horses - and who appear to have no respect for animals they claim they are protecting." It was Thames Valley police chief Charles Pollard in the 1997/8 annual police report. He had to
A circus worker, recently convicted of subjecting an elephant to a sustained and vicious beating with an iron bar, got 4 months in prison; a Hillgrove protestor, who pleaded guilty to striking a metal fence with a piece of wood, got a year! Good old British justice.
For info on undercover police harassment of protestors and journo's contact Undercurrents 16b Cherwell St Oxford OX4 1 BG Tel 01865 203661 Web: http://www.undercurrents.org/
Background: Hillgrove: fighting against vivisection. 12.10.98
(from SchNEWS 186, 9 October 1998)
"The numbers of protesters will dwindle and fade away."
- Chief Inspector Charles Pollard
"We've put a counter on the phone and last month we had 5,000 inquiries."
- Hillgrove campaign
Obviously wishful thinking on the part of the old bill as the costs for protecting the cat butcherers at Hillgrove farm, near Whitney, have now passed the £1.25 million mark!
Hillgrove farm supplies cats and kittens for scientific, cosmetic and military vivisection and has been the subject of sustained demo's for months. Despite the ridiculous policing bill, at one demo' the police built 12 foot walls around the farm complete with watch towers, Thames Valley Police continue to throw large amounts of their resources into protecting the ailing company, (is the fact that Home Secretary Jack Straw goes to church with Hillgrove owner Chris Brown anything to do with it?).
In fact, since the protests started in September of last year, the numbers have anything but dwindled, 1,000's of people have protested, profits have plummeted and staff have left in droves.
From a staff of 11 there are now only 5-6 and the farm is reduced to employing 17 year olds from an agency. With over a thousand cats caged up at the farm this gives each cat just 45 SECONDS OF CARE a day. "It was amazing to see such diverse people working together towards a common goal" said one activist. "There was a balaclava youth talking to 60-year old women from the RSPCA about the best way to break through the police lines".
report: July 1998
Things are hotting up down at t'farm - Hillgrove Farm, that is, the cat breeders run by Farmer Brown in Witney, Oxon which has supplied the vivisection industry for 27 years- including, according to leaked info, the horrific military research establishment at Porton Down. Animal Rights campaigners have been keeping up the pressure on this misanthropic yokel with National Demos every six weeks, which have seen Mr Plod out in force and the farm turned into a barricaded war zone.
Now things have taken an even more sinister turn: on 12th July, activists gathering in nearby Witney for speeches and a planned march on the farm discovered that the Home Secretary (who, incidentally, has a house just down the road from the farm....) had imposed a last-minute Stonehenge-style 5-mile ' Unlawful Assembly' exclusion zone around the farm under Section 14a of the Criminal Justice Act-, thus preventing the demo taking place, and effectively denying the right to protest. Undeterred, activists regrouped and decided to march on the offices and labs of Colin Blakemore, vivisector extraordinaire. The result? An impromptu Reclaim The Streets! Cops tried to set up roadblocks; activists broke through or dodged through sidestreets. Although the farm was unreachable, and only a few of the thousand or so present made it to Blakemore's, the horrendous costs to the cops of policing Hillgrove were pushed up once more,
Get involved!For more information on the Hillgrove campaign write to Save the Hillgrove Cats, Box CB, 111 Magdalen Rd., Oxford, OX4 1RQ, or Tel: 0121 632 6460. Ask to be put on the mailing list
(report from SchNEWS 176, 17 July 1998)