source: Cambridge News
Published on 19 April 2004
THE centre of Cambridge was brought to a standstill by animal rights protesters on Saturday.
Local protesters were joined by hundreds who travelled from as far away as Scotland, Wales and Germany and scores of police officers, from at least four different forces, flanked the protest on all sides.
Shoppers watched as the vocal march snaked its way through the streets for almost two hours.
An array of drums, horns, whistles and sirens accompanied graphic posters and calls to close down Huntingdon Life Sciences, the animal testing laboratory near Alconbury.
The clamour was only broken by a one-minute silence outside the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Downing Street, to remember laboratory animals.
Campaigner Joan Court, 85, from Sturton Street, Petersfield, joined the march, which was organised by protest group Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC).
"It is inconceivable how people can watch the suffering of animals the way they do," she said. "Animal testing is unscientific and useless."
Shopper Liz White, 42, who trained as a nurse at Addenbrooke's before moving to Halifax, said: "The protesters have got a point but they just go over the top.
"They are just too hotheaded."
Caroline Williams, 17, from Chesterton, was working at Carlo's Ices in Trinity Street.
"It has been quieter than usual," she said. "I think a lot of people around Cambridge did not want to get trapped in traffic and some people were scared. I was told to be careful, but the protesters have been fine."
One clothes shop on Sidney Street closed its doors as the march passed, but did not report a drop in business.
"We closed the doors because they might think we have animal products here," said one of its workers who did not wish to be named.
"They are fighting for something they believe in."
The protest began and ended with a rally on Parker's Piece.
Dr Jerry Vlasak, an American trauma surgeon and outspoken critic of HLS, addressed the crowd.
"Animal research will be relegated to the dark ages," he said.
"We need to have new legislation and we need direct action. The world is a violent place and it is up to each and every one of use to make it less violent by stopping the suffering of laboratory animals."