HSUS and the Making of a Conflict Industrialist
IN APRIL OF 2001, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Tom Knudson of the Sacramento Bee wrote a ground-breaking five-part series analyzing the multi-billion-dollar conflict industry, and its impacts, both negative and positive, on science-based conservation efforts. Knudson’s series, entitled “Environment, Inc.”,(1) has spurred calls for Congressional hearings and regulation of the US component of this multinational industry, which traffics in a continuous stream of conflict focusing on environmental or animal welfare issues.
Response costs include citizen misunderstanding of various production processes, myriad conflicting laws, “pollution” of the commons in the form of law-breaking “direct action” at organized, highly visible photo ops (“protests” and “convergences”), and even eco-terrorism, which the conflict industry refuses to condemn and even romanticizes. Currently, the industry operates with little regulation, no oversight, no codes of ethics or standards, and no commitment to funneling a percentage of the monies raised into legitimate hands-on conservation and humane work.
Unsurprisingly, many of the people who join this industry have backgrounds which are heavy on skills in public relations and the organizing of direct actions, and weak in the Earth or animal sciences. Lengthy arrest records are also commonplace.
A leader in the conflict industry stated in “Environment, Inc.”, “As we become larger and more successful, I worry about the ethics of our movement. We need to think about self-regulation and standards. If not, the ones who make mistakes are going to hurt it for all of us.”
An example of the relationship between the industry and its workers is demonstrated by the Humane Society of the United States’ (HSUS) recent hiring of John Paul “JP” Goodwin, previously of the Coalition to Abolish the Fur Trade (CAFT).(2) Goodwin, who dropped out of high school to pursue protests, and stated, “My goal is the abolition of all animal agriculture”, is now a full-fledged DC-based conflict industrialist.
According to “Environment, Inc.”, the US-based conflict industry is estimated to generate over $3.2 billion in annual revenues. “Our business is booming,” said Patrick Noonan, chairman of the Conservation Fund, which provides financial and educational assistance to conflict corporations. “This is a growth industry – a huge growth industry,” added Daniel Beard, chief operating officer at the National Audubon Society. “There is a lot of wealth that has accumulated in this country over the last 20 years. And people are wanting to do good things with it.”
With assets of almost $100 million, HSUS is among the wealthiest corporations in the industry.(3) In 1999, its revenues were a staggering $63 million, up from $17 million in 1990. Even Goodwin (whose CAFT reports annual revenue under $25,000) has railed against HSUS salaries, stating, “some people at HSUS make obscene amounts of money.”(4)
Goodwin’s CAFT and HSUS have worked profitably in generating conflict in concert before. In response to pressure from CAFT/HSUS, a major clothing store allegedly caught selling fraudulently labeled products incorporating domesticated dog fur, donated at least $100,000 to an HSUS campaign to criminalize the unlikely sale of dog and cat fur.(5) After HSUS pocketed the check, CAFT kept the pressure on, pushing for the company to abandon all animal-based natural fibers and limit its product line to plant-based and synthetic clothing. Ironically, it appears that while Goodwin organized CAFT protests against this clothing company, he may also have been taking HSUS-sponsored junkets.
In an Apr. 30, 2000 email, Goodwin stated, “Over the last week I had the honor of being a part of the Texas China tour … I represented HSUS on the tour.”(6) In July of 2000, Goodwin announced CAFT was moving from Dallas, Texas to DC but that CAFT would remain in the family. Goodwin’s companion, Lydia Nichols, would become the “full time director of operations” for CAFT. HSUS never put out a formal press release on Goodwin’s hiring, though it may have happened as early as 1997. In a press interview in August of 2007, HSUS president Wayne Pacelle stated: “I hired Mr. Goodwin 10 years ago.”(7) In any event, by April 2001 it was official, when “J.P. Goodwin of the Humane Society of the United States” gave a speech in New York on “Political Action for Animals”.(8) In June 2001, Goodwin dropped the “J.P.” from his name and used a new one: “JGoodwin@hsus.org (John Goodwin)”.
Follower of Coronado School
According to an interview in the animal rights newsletter Animal People, Goodwin “grew up with the animal rights movement, dropping out of Germantown High School in Memphis in the 11th grade to focus on activism, doing janitorial work for a living because the flexible hours allowed him time to protest. When protests didn’t bring quick results, Goodwin took up direct action, influenced by convicted fur farm and laboratory arsonist Rod Coronado.”(9) Coronado is a believer in animal “liberation”, stating, “There isn’t a hierarchy of life, but one in which all life is equal.” His dream: “If ALF was to get an above-ground voice, a political lobby, that is the next challenge.”(10)
Goodwin embraced Coronado’s philosophy with a vengeance, attacking the human animal and its property, often with juveniles in tow. In the early ’90s, he coordinated street theater in Tennessee(11) and issued succinct instructions: “If the feed barn, and processing barns are away from the animals, and downwind, then they could be burned down. Otherwise mink releases are the only way to go.”(12)
Predictably, Goodwin was arrested multiple times in various states, culminating in his being charged as the alleged ringleader of a gang that vandalized fur stores. In April 1993, he and two juveniles pleaded guilty. Sentenced to three years in prison, they spent the next 30 months under house arrest, but the prison term was overturned for six months probation. Animal People reported, “By the time Goodwin completed the probation, he had already become – at 22 – a nationally recognized animal rights movement leader, forming CAFT and organizing anti-fur civil disobedience demonstrations throughout the South and Midwest.” However, Goodwin’s tactics “seemed mainly to get lots of young activists arrested, photographed, fingerprinted, jailed, and fined.”(13)
Animal People continued, “In 1996 – 1997 Goodwin gleefully announced a string of Animal Liberation Front (ALF) mink releases and arsons against furriers and fur farms.” Goodwin acted as ALF spokesman for a Petaluma, California slaughterhouse arson in February 1997, and shocked the public with his comments on the March 1997 arson at a farmer’s feed co-op in Utah. “We’re ecstatic,” said Goodwin of the fire that did almost a million dollars of damage and could have killed a caretaker family sleeping on the premises. “We have no problem with inanimate objects being destroyed so animate objects can survive,” he continued. “We believe life is more valuable than property.”(13)
In May 1997, ALF attacked a mink farm in Mt. Angel, Oregon, releasing and abandoning 10,000 farm-raised animals. Over 4,000, primarily kits not yet weaned from their mothers, died miserable deaths in the days following the attack, while the survivors were severely stressed by the experience. But Goodwin was unmoved by the carnage, and callously demanded body counts. “They claim thousands of minks have died,” he said. “Let’s see thousands of bodies.”(14) The farming family, police, reporters and insurance adjusters dutifully counted the bodies while Goodwin gave interviews and furthered his career.
Training Kids for a Living
As one of the “All-Star” speakers at the 1997 Animal Rights Conference in DC, Goodwin participated in panels on “Gaining public attention (Developing tactics to gain public attention for our cause without damaging our public image)” with Elliot Katz of In Defense of Animals and Ingrid Newkirk of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Goodwin discussed training the next generation of conflict industry workers with: “The intergenerational connection (Improving relations between student groups and the rest of the movement)”.(15) He held “education and strategy training sessions” for young people, featuring Breaking Free!, a video glorifying crimes commited by ALF and the Earth Liberation Front.(16)
A pattern of juvenile arrests emerged at protests organized by Goodwin/CAFT and another conflict group, the Animal Defense League (ADL). Sometimes the juveniles were from out of state, sometimes the arrests were during school hours.(17) Goodwin praised the Straight Edge faction of young vegans, who turned intolerant and militant, for “breathing new life into the movement.”(18) To thwart attempts at identification, Goodwin and his cohorts took to donning ski masks. Now you see them, now you don’t.
Peter Schnell of New Jersey was 17 when arrested in New York in 1998 at a Goodwin/CAFT/ADL protest. Matt Whyte of California was only 16 when arrested in 1999 at a protest in Seattle, during school hours on a school day. Goodwin, who was also present at that protest, told the Associated Press he did not know why Whyte was not in school. Hours later, three more out-of-state juveniles were arrested after they donned masks, climbed a tall fence at a nearby fur farm and vandalized animal pens, scattering the terrified mink. In January 2001, Goodwin/CAFT/ADL protégés Whyte, now 18, and Schnell, now 20, were arrested in the middle of the night behind the Capitola (California) City Hall with materials for making bombs.(19)
In the late ’90s, CAFT went global with its conflict product, hanging out website shingles in the UK and Sweden. CAFT-UK’s website states that the British arm was established to “regenerate the grass-roots campaign against the fur trade in Britain.” It also brags of “pickets outside [shops] on a daily basis” along with “mass arrests”, “smashed” windows and protests at shop owners’ homes.
“We have found that civil disobedience and direct action has been powerful in generating massive attention in our communities … and has been very effective in traumatizing our targets,” noted Goodwin.(20)
By 1998, at just 25 years old, Goodwin was describing himself as a “former member of ALF”.(8; 10) His busy schedule was filled with interviews, arrests, ALF p.r., addressing kids at conferences, protests, a presence in several countries and, in the summer of 1999, the filing of a lawsuit against CAFT under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act by a Philadelphia furrier tired of incessant protests and attacks on his property and staff.(21)
Despite all this effort, US retail fur sales hit $1.69 billion in 2000, up a whopping 54% from $1.1 billion in 1994, when Goodwin started CAFT.
Cleaning Up His Act
By August of 2000, Goodwin was trying to clean up his act, or at least his public image. Following the lead of other industry execs before him, he realized that society’s patience with his lawbreaking ways was running thin. “I do not plan to ever do civil disobedience again,” he told Animal People. “I’m convinced that politics is the way to go, and to that end I am taking classes in political campaign management. Targeting bad lawmakers, and helping good lawmakers, is what I feel this movement has failed to do, miserably.”(9)
Now that he’s an established conflict industrialist backed by HSUS’s huge financial reserves of almost $100 million, Goodwin will be in a stronger position to realize two goals: Rodney Coronado’s dream of “an above-ground voice, a political lobby” for ALF, and his personal dream, “the abolition of all animal agriculture”.(20)
And yes, the hard-working citizenry supports all this as “public benefit” with tax-free status and our law enforcement response costs. Tax-free conflict, tax-free trauma, HSUS and Goodwin, together, making a living in the conflict industry.
In the meantime, the Environment, Inc. juggernaut will continue charging forward without codes of ethics or standards, filling its pockets to the detriment of genuine conservation and humane work.
Rodney Coronado : Hot Times in a Very Crowded Hot Tub
Convicted ecoterrorist Rodney Coronado was a student of Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.(22) Coronado and Watson held a joint press conference as early as 1986 and Coronado and Watson admitted sinking fishing/whaling vessels in Iceland. Coronado learned how to make firebombs in England and sabotaged logging sites, fur stores and billboards in the United States and Canada(23) while Sea Shepherd’s Watson has a lengthy arrest record in several countries. Oh, and yes, the State of Oregon has given non-profit status to Sea Shepherd. Taxpayers subsidize these actions as “public benefit”.
In 1990 Coronado shared a $1,900-a-month house in the mountains north of Santa Cruz, Calif., complete with a redwood deck and hot tub for 13, for soaking in between arduous sessions editing the Earth First! ecoanarchy journal. Jonathan Paul, who was charged, but not prosecuted in a 1986 sabotage of a University of Oregon animal lab, played in that same hot tub and also served time at sea with Sea Shepherd. In recent years, Paul has gained notoriety harassing Makah whalers off the Washington coast, once again with Sea Shepherd coordination. Alex Pacheco did time at sea with Sea Shepherd before joining PeTA. Darryl Cherney, an organizer of Earth First!’s anti-logging crusades in the Northern California redwoods, was a guest at Coronado’s hot tub haven, along with David Barbarash,(24) a Canadian anarchist, convicted ecoterrorist and ALF spokesperson.(25)
See also: Operation Bite Back: Rod Coronado’s war to save American Wildnerness, by Dean Kuipers. FCUSA book review, July 24, 2009.
(1) “Environment, Inc.”, by Tom Knudson, Sacramento Bee, April 2001; by the same author see also“Environmentalists’ tactics face review”, Sacramento Bee, May 3, 2001; and “They Damaged Themselves” reproduced in Evergreen Magazine.
(2) See In Their Own Words : CAFT for a selection of Goodwin quotes. Goodwin has worn many hats over the years. Along with the huge HSUS and tiny CAFT, he has been associated with or acted as a representative of : the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), Animal Liberation of Texas, Cornell Students for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, No Compromise, Legislative Action for Animals and more. Goodwin’s gone to jail with the who’s who in animal lib sector of the conflict industry: Josh Harper, Jonathan Paul, Leslie James Pickering, Craig Rosebraugh, David Wilson and more.
(3) For info on HSUS financials, see “Charities Report Says HSUS Misleads Donors”, National Animal Interest Alliance press release, Jan. 10, 2001.
(4) From: JP Goodwin/CAFT posting, Source: google.com search, Subject: animal liberation front, Newsgroups: alt.animals.raccoons, Date: 1998/09/03.
(5) See “Retailer Seeks to Ban Pet Fur Imports”, Washington Post, Dec. 18, 1998. See also FCUSA press kit special feature Furry Trade Barriers.
(6) “Pro Animal Forces and Labor Together”, e-mail from Goodwin, which includes an HSUS-flavored missive calling for trade barriers against Chinese products. AR-News, Apr. 30, 2000. Full text follows:
Over the last week I had the honor of being a part of the Texas China tour. This was a caravan of activists representing organized labor, environmental, human rights, Tibetan freedom and animal rights/welfare concerns. I represented HSUS on the tour.
We held rallies in Houston, Austin, Dallas and McAllen and took each of our respective issues to millions via the mass media.
Our message was clear: Congress must reject PNTR China. The vote is set for the week of May 22nd.
Pasted below is a speech I gave at each rally. It explains why animal rights activists must be concerned about this.
I hope each of you will read it and then write your Congressperson demanding s/he vote on PNTR for China. You can find out who your Congressperson is, and how to contact him/her at www.house.gov.
This tour was invaluable. At each rally I spoke to large numbers of people who traditionally do not hear the pro animal message.
It was a pleasure to see Teamsters and union members nodding in agreement as I discussed these animal issues and expressed how glad I was to see animal rights activists side by side with these wonderful, hard working people.
Some very valuable connections were made. Some very important allies were met who will be valuable friends in the future.
Now, the battle is on. Please contact Congress and say no to PNTR for China! Let’s not reward China with preferred trade status until they clean up their act!
Hello, my name is J.P. Goodwin and I have joined this tour to express opposition to Permanent Normal Trade Relations with China because of animal welfare concerns.
China has a very low standard of care for their animals. China is one of the worlds largest consumers of endangered species parts. In China approximately 2 million dogs and cats are slaughtered each year for the fur industry. China has an extensive illegal ivory trade network and completely undermines international endangered species agreements.
People who care about animals have good reason to be concerned about globalization and world trade laws. These trade agreements tend to favor the animal welfare standards of the lowest common denominator.
The United States has a law called the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Under that law, it was illegal to import tuna from foreign interests who refused to stop setting nets on dolphins. Under WTO rules, that was deemed an illegal trade barrier.Under international trade laws, Americans have lost the right to say no to products that are developed by cruel methods that we abhor.
Going the other way, the European Union decided they did not want to accept wild caught furs from the United States because we have not yet banned cruel leghold traps.
These devices crush animal’s paws and restrain them until the trapper returns to kill the animal. They are unnecessarily cruel and banned in 88 countries. The European legislation to stop the import of furs trapped by cruel methods was determined to violate international trade laws.
Once again, the lowest animal welfare standards prevailed.
If China is given Permanent Normal Trade Relations status then we will have a country with absolutely abysmal standards for animal protection developing products that we will not be able to refuse.
So much for Americans being able to have a say in what sort of products are sold in our country.
So much for national sovereignty.
If you or I were shopping, and we entered a store where the owner was brutal to his animals, treated his workers terribly, and trashed the environment, we would take our business elsewhere. This example relates to China. Since China can’t learn to treat people, animals or the environment better, then they should not be allowed to engage in normal free trade with the United States.
We are urging Congress to reject Permanent Normal Trade Relations with China. Currently trade with China is given an annual review. This is a time when objections can be raised as to how China treats workers, democracy activists, animals or the environment.
Giving China Permanent Normal Trade Relations will strip us of that opportunity to raise these issues.
Americans have a right to say no to products that are produced by means that we do not deem acceptable. Those who want to give China preferred trade status seem to disagree. These people, big business and the Clinton administration, seem to believe that trade with China is more important than an Americans right to reject products produced by cruel means.
This vote will have a large impact on the future of this country. The question is this; will Congress listen to the people or big business?
(7) Blunt CEO defends Humane Society from attack dogs, by Tom Hennessy, Press-Telegram Long Beach, Aug. 25, 2007.
(8) Apr. 5, 2001 email from Adam Weissman: Subject: [SEAC-ANIMALRIGHTS:83] JP Goodwin to Speak on Political Action for Animals at Wetlands Preserve. The event was sponsored by Activism Center at Wetlands Preserve (Animal Rights Forum, hosted by Adam Weisman) and NYC Political Action for Animals. The promo stated, “J.P. Goodwin of the Humane Society of the United States will discuss why it is imperative that animal advocates become active in the political arena. Goodwin will discuss how we can be effective, having maximum impact in the fight for animal rights. He will review past and present political strategies, and explain what key components go into a winning political campaign. Be a part of the emerging political force for the protection of animals!” SEAC at seac.org
(9) “Talk About Animals Goodwin Tells PETA”, Animal People, Aug. 1, 2000.
(10) “Guerrillas say they fight to help liberate animals; FBI considers group’s members domestic terrorists”, Dallas Morning News, Feb. 15, 1998.
(11) These events were coordinated in Memphis during 1992 with Matt Bullard of the Minneapolis, Minnesota-based Student Organization for Animal Rights (SOAR), best known for its leadership who have taken turns as ALF press office spokespeople: Freeman Wicklund, Katie Fedor, Kevon Kjonaas, among others.
(12) As quoted on AR-Views, an animal rights Internet discussion group.
(13) Activists take credit for Sandy fur fire, Deseret News (Utah), Mar. 11, 1997.
(14) “Fur industry’s success shades raid”, The Oregonian, June 4, 1997. See also Hiring the Animal Liberation Front, Activist Cash profile of HSUS.
February 25, 1997
MCLIBEL SUPPORT CAMPAIGN
News report confirms fire bombing at slaughterhouse
LENGTH: 364 words
DATELINE: PETALUMA, Ca.
Despite initial claims to the contrary by officials, and a skeptical news media, a slaughterhouse here was, in fact, targeted and attacked by militant animal rights activists this week, according to a report in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.
The Animal Liberation Front (ALF), a clandestine animal rights group that admits torching and raiding research labs, and animal-related companies in the U.S. since 1978, claimed responsibility for the firebombing of a truck at Rancho Slaughterhouse Wednesday, Feb. 19.
However, local law enforcement and the facility denied knowledge of the attack until Thursday, more than 24 hours later, according to the Press Democrat, which confirmed that “two Molotov cocktail-type bombs” were found on the company’s property.
“The news media must be alert to the fact that these companies, who slaughter calves and dairy cows to make a profit, will have no problem lying to the media, and thus the public,” said JP Goodwin, a spokesperson for the ALF, and exec. director of Coalition to Abolish the Fur Trade, a national animal rights group based in Dallas.
Goodwin said some media refused to believe the ALF.
“News media should note that Rancho, as the Press Democrat observed, has refused to return media calls. That should tell all of us something,” he said.
Also, while authorities and the slaughterhouse continue to claim that no damage was done, the Press Democrat pointed out that “two” incendiary devices were found, leaving 2 others missing, as well as the tractor-trailer that the ALF said was heavily damaged.
“We know from the communique from the ALF – who apparently have been telling the truth all along – that they left four devices. Obviously the other 2 were ignited, as the ALF said they did, and the double-tractor trailer truck was destroyed. Independent observers have told us they saw scorch marks at the scene.
“Rancho is simply trying to hide this destruction from the news media, and the public, because they want to prevent attention being drawn to their company that works overtime to butcher and murder baby calves,” said Goodwin.
CONTACT: JP Goodwin, CAFT (214) 503-1419
(15) Joining Goodwin on the panel was Cres Vellucci of the National Activist Network (NAN) which pumped out press releases for the “Primate Freedom Tours” and dozens of other other conflict industry events.
(16) 01/20/99, www.efn.org/~joshua/; Joshua Harper’s website states that “Breaking Free is a project of Animal Defense League Eugene in association with Aquarian Productions.” Who is Josh Harper? According to the Seattle Post Intelligencer, Harper sees “‘a spark of hope in every broken window, every torched police car and every mink running free as their hearts desire.’ For the 26-year-old anarchist, those acts are necessary to achieve his ultimate goal: ‘The complete collapse of industrial civilization.’” His goal: “The end of civilization – Vandalism, freed mink are just steps” by Paul Shukovsky, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, June 18, 2001
(17) 29 adults and 3 juveniles were arrested on Apr. 20, 1997 at a primate research protest on the University of California at Davis campus. \In the group were many who later turned pro in the growing conflict industry: J.P. Goodwin; Oregon eco-anarchist/ADL-Eugene’s Josh Harper; David Hayden of ADL-Santa Cruz and No Compromise; ADL-San Francisco’s Gerard Livernois; perpetual Makah attacker and Sea Shepherd protégé Jonathan Paul; Earth Liberation Front (ELF) spokesman Craig Rosebraugh of Oregon and anarchist Leslie James Pickering who also happens to be Rosebraugh’s roommate and the backup ELF spokesperson; NAN’s Cres Vellucci; ALF spokesman British-born David Wilson; and Washington state’s Peter Young, currently wanted by the FBI for crimes in several states. Also see “Quick Arrest for Bungling Terrorists”, FCUSA press release, Feb. 23, 1999, among other industry, police and press reports.
(18) “The Twisted World of a ‘Straight Edge’ Gang”, Los Angeles Times, Jan. 29, 1998.
(19) See “One Dark Night in Capitola : The Case of Schnell and Whyte”, FCUSA press release, July 11, 2001.
(20) National Animal Rights Convention, June 27, 1997.
(21) Co-defendants in the RICO lawsuit were CAFT, the Animal Defense League (ADL), and Vegan Resistance for Liberation, plus four of their members: Joseph Bateman, Julia Wilczynski, New Jersey ADL’s Darius Fullmer and Brett Wyker; see Furrier Files RICO Suit, FCUSA press release, July 6, 1999.
(22) See “Should conflict generation be rewarded with nonprofit dollars?”, FCUSA commentary, Aug. 13, 1998.
(23) See “Eco-terrorism sweeps the American West”, The Oregonian, Sept. 26, 1999.
(24) See FCUSA profile of Barbarash/Thurston.
(25) See “Ideologues drive the violence”, The Oregonian, Sept. 27, 1999.