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Roger Yates is a lecturer in sociology at University College Dublin and the University of Wales, specializing in animal rights. He is a former executive committee member of the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV), a former Animal Liberation Front (ALF) Northern regional press officer, and co-founder of the Fur Action Group.

Yates was sentenced to four years' imprisonment in 1987 for conspiracy to commit criminal damage on behalf of the ALF. He absconded during the trial and was on the run for three years, before being apprehended and serving his sentence.[1] After his release, he began an academic study of animal protectionism and social movements, obtaining his PhD in 2005 on the subject of human/non-human relations.

Early activismEdit

Template:Alib Yates became fully involved in the British grassroots animal movement in 1979, following a false start two years earlier when he joined the Hunt Saboteurs Association (HSA), but failed to find fellow "sabs" near Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire. By 1979, he had moved to Essex and had become active as a vegan animal rights advocate.

BUAVEdit

Template:See Yates was one of a group of activists, associated with the Animal Liberation Front Supporters Group (ALF SG), who attempted in the early 1980s to take control of the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV), a respected and conservative anti-vivisection group founded in 1898. In 1982, Yates became a member of the BUAV's executive committee, along with Dave McColl, a director of Sea Shepherd, and used the position to radicalize the organization, which meant that significant campaigning funds became available to activists for the first time.[2]

Yates co-founded the Fur Action Group with others from the BUAV, and created the largest data bank on fur-bearing animals in the country, later handed over to the Lynx anti-fur organization.[3]

Kim Stallwood, BUAV's national organizer from 1981-1986, writes that the ALF activists who wanted to take over the BUAV believed all political action to be a waste of time, and wanted the group to devote its resources to direct action. The BUAV had been supportive of the ALF, and had allowed the ALF SG to use free office space in the BUAV's London offices, but in 1984, the board reluctantly voted to expel the Supporters Group and to withdraw its political support from the ALF.[4]

Move to LiverpoolEdit

Yates moved to Liverpool to become a main organizer of the Merseyside Animal Rights Committee, along with Hunt Saboteur Association co-ordinators, Dave and Fiona Callender. While he helped with the HSA’s annual campaigns against the Waterloo Cup hare coursing event and the Northern grouse shoot sabotages, and joined the Merseyside Sea Shepherd’s campaigns against seal killing in the Orkney Islands, he devised the “fur pledge” campaign to specifically attack Manchester-based furrier, Edelson Furs. Michael Edelson’s company had a number of franchises in large department stores. The fur pledge involved members of the public vowing to boycott entire stores while they had fur departments. During this period, Yates helped initiate public showings of videos such as Victor Schonfeld’s The Animal Film [5] and opened and ran the first “Animal Rights Shop” in Liverpool City centre, selling merchandise from a range of national animal protection organisations. Throughout this period, Merseyside activists were active members of the Northern Animal Liberation League (NALL), culminating in a daylight ‘raid’ on ICI in Alderley Park, Cheshire involving 300 activists.[6]

ALF press officerEdit

In 1983, the co-founder and national press liaison officer of the Animal Liberation Front Supporters Group, Ronnie Lee, persuaded Yates to act as the organization's northern press officer.[7] This coincided with a dramatic change in ALF activity from direct rescue of animals to committing acts of economic sabotage, and in the government and police response to direct action.

During this period, homes for rescued animals were drying up, so Yates founded the Rescued Animals Sanctuary Fund as a means of keeping this possibility open to animal liberationists.

ConvictionEdit

In February 1987, Yates was one of 12 defendants convicted at Sheffield Crown Court, including three ALF SG press officers, after police raided a house in which they found evidence that incendiary devices were being created, using fire lighters, batteries, and broken light bulbs. Similar devices hidden inside cigarette packets had been used in fur stores and department stores selling fur throughout England and Scotland, with the intention of causing as much harm as possible to those within the stores evidenced by the use of batteries and broken shreds of glass from light bulbs.[8]

Yates was sentenced to four years' imprisonment for conspiracy to cause criminal damage, while Ronnie Lee received a ten-year term. Lee's sentence coincided with the jailing for six and seven years of two defendants in the Ealing Vicarage rape case — where two men had raped a woman in front of her boyfriend and father, who were badly beaten — prompting Conservative MP Steven Norris to declare in 1987 that, "sentencing at the moment seems to suggest that a woman’s body is less valuable than property or the right of experimenters and mink farmers to live in peace."[9]

Escape and captureEdit

Yates absconded during his trial and spent three years on the run. He writes:

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While on the run, he helped to launch the Federation of Local Animal Rights Groups.[10] He was apprehended in north Wales in 1989 after a bomb exploded in the Senate House bar of Bristol University, an act claimed by the "Animal Abuse Society," an unknown group. The attack was followed by a series of car bomb attacks.[11] Yates became a leading suspect in the Bristol attack. His mug shot was widely distributed and within three weeks, police had arrested him in north Wales, where he had been living.[12]

Yates appealed to activists in a statement to The Guardian,[13] that they take no life-threatening action, in line with ALF policy. The car-bomb attacks continued, claimed by the "British Animal Rights Society," another unknown group. After a nail bomb attack on a Land Rover, the car's owner, a huntsman, was charged with having blown up his own car. He admitted two similar offences, reportedly telling the court, "I did it to discredit the animal rights and its associations," and was jailed for nine months.[14]

Academic lifeEdit

In his academic career as a sociologist, Roger Yates has studied the social transmission of speciesism and investigated how and why modern human societies exploit and harm animals. He has called for a strategic audit of the animal protection movement.[15] As part of the abolitionist approach to animal rights, and inspired by the writing and activism of lawyer and philosopher Gary L. Francione, he makes a "plea for a philosophical animal rights stance"[16] and continues to frame his present-day animal advocacy within rights-based philosophy.[17] Francione's abolitionist critique of the property status of animals is reflected in investigations of horse maiming, or 'horse ripping'.[18] [19] A recurring theme in his work is the exploration of the so-called 'movement-countermovement dialectic' involving social movements and their opponents as claims-makers: "Yates...explores the extent to which the general public, pet owners, dog show advocates, and other 'pro-use' interests, learn and recycle countermovement message(s) about the theories of change and their advocates. Do the arguments laid out by the countermovements act as 'scripts' to aid those who oppose the ideas of the pro-animal movement?"[20]

His MA thesis was an examination of the British animal protection movement[21] and his 2005 PhD dissertation is called "The Social Construction of Human Beings and Other Animals in Human-Nonhuman Relations. Welfare and Rights: A Contemporary Sociological Analysis", claimed to be a work of non-speciesist zemiology. He maintains a blog entitled "On Human-Nonhuman Relations, a sociological exploration of speciesism."

Selected worksEdit

Notes Edit

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External links Edit


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