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Pepper spray & rubber bullets in Little Rock
by portland indymedia (imc-portland [at]
Monday Oct 29th, 2001 1:41 PM
Showdown in Little Rock turns ugly; police using pepper spray, tear gas, and rubber bullets against protesters

<b>11:30 a.m. update: "I have just washed pepper spray out of my eyes."</b> According to a cell-phone report from the Portland Indymedia reporter in Little Rock, the situation at the Stephens, Inc. protest rally has turned ugly. Police are using pepper spray, tear gas and rubber bullets against protesters. Roughly 100 police have donned gas masks and have their guns out; about 300 protesters are gathered at Stephens, Inc., where the barricades demarking the "legal" protest zone have been knocked down. One young man was shot in the face with rubber bullets, then pepper sprayed, both at close range. An activist on a bullhorn could be heard in the background of the cell call, talking about the financial connections between Stephens and HLS, and decrying the violent infringements on civil liberties occuring in Little Rock right now. "We will not back down," he shouted. Watch this space for more details as they come in....

<p>On Friday, police had said their presence would be "minimal" if protesters did not "break the law" or become violent. Laws regarding public assembly and speech in Little Rock recently changed, however, at the behest of Stephens, which pressured the Little Rock City Council into adopting a new <a href="" target="_blank">ordinance regarding public assembly and speech. The result, brutal attacks by police on protesters, seems the intended result of the promulgation, and reflects a broader -- indeed global -- pattern of individual liberties being sacrificed to serve corporate interests.

<p><a href="" target="_blank"><img src="" align="right" border="0"><b>Showdown background:</b> According to Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC), "a line has been drawn in the sand between those who support animal rights and those who are pro animal testing. The conflict is between Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty and Stephens Inc., and the battleground is Huntingdon Life Sciences [HLS]." The adversaries met in Little Rock, Arkansas, this weekend, and are holding a rally against Stephens this afternoon. Months in the planning, SHAC actions are intended to force Stephens to withdraw their financial support from HLS. Earlier this year, Stephens saved HLS from bankruptcy after other companies divested themselves of HLS shares under pressure from SHAC.

<p>According to SHAC, HLS kills 500 animals a day in the course of its medical research. HLS calls this science, SHAC murder. The scientific community is itself divided, with some members taking a stand <a href="" target="_blank">against it.

<P>Little Rock does not have an IMC, but a Portland Indymedia reporter is on-the-ground there and has been posting regular reports here, and has been calling in by cell-phone.

<p><b><a href="" target="_blank">Local Solidarity Action</b>- Portland activists will be protesting at Bank of America on 5th and Main in downtown on Monday, 29th from 12-2 in solidarity with the Little Rock campaign. There will be concurrent actions in other US and European cities.

<p>[ <a href="" target="_blank">First report |<a href="" target="_blank">Second report |<a href="" target="_blank">Third report | <a href="" target="_blank">Full text of the anti-free speech ordinance ]

<p><b>Background:</b> [ Portland Indymedia: <a href="" target="_blank">The issues and the players | SHAC: <a href="" target="_blank">October 29 website & VIDEO | In depth: <a href="" target="_blank">"Vivisection or Science: a choice to make" ]
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