Jill had years of experience in demonstrations, many of which included confrontations with police and with people who harm animals for a living. Jill was involved for many years in the fight against vivisection, environmental destruction, hunting, zoos, circuses, the meat and dairy industry, as well as for the homeless. She lived with her partner, Justin, with her son and two dogs she rescued, Spider and Lucy, and over the years she provided a home for rats and cats that she saved. Her parents, other and sister were also involved in activism for animals. Jill was killed during a flourishing period of her life. Over a thousand people attended the demonstration that took place in from of the airport following Jill’s death, on the rainiest day of that year. The demonstrators, including Jill’s mother and brother, implored the public to redouble their efforts in the fight against live exports. Since then a memorial day takes place annually, with hundreds of people gathering to demonstrate at a site where animal are being abused - mostly against live exports.
Live export of calves
The struggle which Jill lost her life fighting, started in November 1994, when Phoenix Aviation got official approval to fly calves to Europe. These were male calves, who are considered redundant in the dairy industry, sent to be overfed in tiny isolation cells, that had been outlawed in England, but not in the rest of Europe. At the time, large freight companies were already avoiding these kinds of shipments, but some small companies jumped at the opportunity to corner that market. Coventry’s city council tried to ban these flights, due to safety reasons. The company owner, Christopher Barrett-Jolly, appealed to London’s high court - and got the approval. The company regularly had up to 5 and as many as 8 flights a day, onto each of which 190 calves would be loaded. On December 21st, a Boeing 737, coming back from transporting calves, crashed. That was its third flight that day, and it didn’t have clearance. The calves’ transporters were killed in that crash. The flights were renewed a month later, and a week after that, Jill was killed. Her death had very little impact on the flights - they were renewed two days later during a bold mass demonstration: Justin, Jill’s partner, chained himself to the transport plane’s wheels, and 40 people were arrested. The protestors showed extreme devotion - they came to the airport every day, for the whole day, they sometimes even spent the night. The police had to have hundreds of officers on stand by. The city council tried to prohibit the live export flights, but the supreme court ruled against Coventry’s plea. In May Barrett-Jolly said the flights would be stopped due to “routine maintenance”, and in July it was announced the company had gone bankrupt.
Protecting the criminals
Barrett-Jolly’s story demonstrates grotesquely how much the police (and not in England alone) is occupied with defending private businesses, against all ethics, logic or law. Barrett-Jolly was involved as a pilot for 30 years, flying weapons to third world countries. Even before the live export affair, he earned himself a dubious reputation. In June 1994, journalists found he flew weapons to South Yemen, where a civil war was raging. “The people of South Yemen need these weapons to protect themselves. I believe these weapons will save many lives,” said Barrett-Jolly to the journalists - and threatened to have them killed after they found Barrett-Jolly had transported additional weapons and sought to publish that information. In July, Barrett-Jolly began flying weapons to the civil war in Angola which had broken out again, and in October, he was convicted of a large theft of furniture from a house he rented. During the live exports, he was convicted of assaulting a protestor and causing injury using a pole. On other occasions, he tried to run over a demonstrator and shot protestors using a BB gun. His splendid career came to an end only in December 2002, when he was convicted, along with his pilot nephew, of smuggling £22 million worth of cocaine to Britain. The two pilots were sentenced to 20 years in prison. Coventry police spent half a million Pounds to defend Barrett-Jolly’s business, against the public protest, during the live exports.
The struggle continues
Stopping the live exports of calves in Coventry brought the fight against live exports to other places. The movement in Coventry - Coventry Animal Alliance - began in 1982, trying to close a farm which was raising foxes in tiny cages to be killed for their fur. At the same time, the Phipps family was getting involved in animal right activity. Protest vigils next to the farm occurred on a weekly basis, and the number of participants in them was as high as 2,000, often involving confrontations with hundreds of police officers. In the beginning of 1984, anonymous activists raided the farm, freed more than 200 foxes, and soon after, the farm was closed. Jill was a part of the group during those years, but she didn’t live to witness the end of the live exports in her district. The struggle went on after her and inspired by her, even as the authorities kept on protecting the business people who were profiting from animal abuse and aggression against protestors. The tenth anniversary of Jill Phipps’ death was also marred by such aggression, when spaces that were rented in Coventry received anonymous warnings not to allow the 400 protestors to gather in them. The protestors came together anyway despite the threats, and held the ceremony, in which a film about Jill’s life was debuted. At the same time, a demonstration against live exports in ships between England to Europe was held in Dover.
The UK renews cattle exports
After a ten year moratorium on the export of live calves to mainland Europe, the UK restarted cattle exports to Europe in 2006, including young calves for the veal industry. The transports include traumatic handling of very young calves on their way to Belgium. Exporting cattle from England stopped in March 1996 due European concerns over bovine spongiform encephalopathy (“mad cow disease”). The exports were renewed in spite of widespread public protest.
Jill’s Day 2005, accessed 11.2.2005