Animal Activists Who Freed Thousands Of Minks Charged With Terrorism | Care2 Causes

By: Susan Bird
November 13, 2017

About Susan
Follow Susan at @ItsSusanBird

It’s perfectly fine to convict non-violent animal activists under a law intended for “terrorists,” — at least, according to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld the convictions of two men who freed minks from a fur farm.

Tyler Lang and Kevin Johnson set out one night in August 2013 to do something many of us would view as a good deed — or at least a kind one. They wanted to free thousands of minks held captive on a fur farm in Morris, Illinois. And they actually succeeded.

They released approximately 2,000 minks from their cages, destroyed the minks’ breeding cards — required for sale to furriers — poured caustic substances over two farm vehicles and spray-painted “Liberation is Love” on the wall of a barn. All told, they caused between $120,000 and $200,000 worth of damage.

Admittedly, these actions included a few crimes and went further than just letting the animals loose.

Lang and Johnson were convicted under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, a 2006 federal law that many call “Green Scare” legislation. It’s supposedly aimed at dark and dangerous underground activist crimes like arson and bombing, but is that how it’s now being used?

The Center for Constitutional Rights says of the AET

The AETA targets animal riists, criminalizing First Amendment protected speech and advocacy, including protests, boycotts, picketing, and whistleblowing. Yet, while the law is aimed at stifling animal rights activism, its language is so broad and vague it could be used to prosecute labor activists who organize a successful boycott of Wal-Mart or union members who picket a university cafeteria, because both sell animal products.

Indeed, the law is quite broad. It defines “economic damage” as “the loss of profits, or increased costs, including losses and increased costs resulting from threats, acts or vandalism, property damage, trespass, harassment, or intimidation taken against a person or entity on account of that person’s or entity’s connection to, relationship with, or transactions with the animal enterprise,” but “does not include any lawful economic disruption (including a lawful boycott) that results from lawful public, governmental, or business reaction to the disclosure of information about an animal enterprise.”

What exactly is “intimidation”? What are “threats”? These are words easily bandied about and could be conveniently used by means of discriminatory enforcement to thwart the otherwise legal actions of animal protestors and activists.

That’s not to say that what Lang and Johnson did was legal. It was, among other things, trespass and vandalism — and I’m sure they knew it — but there are already laws on the books to deal with such crimes.

The problem with AETA is pigeonholing this type of crime as “terrorism.” We all live in this dangerous world. Most of us know terrorism when we see it.

Freeing innocent animals from a fur farm while engaging in a bit of property damage isn’t what comes to mind. Sure, it’s illegal activity, and so is stealing eggs from Kroger or a truckload of frozen hamburgers from your neighborhood Burger King.

Those latter crimes don’t merit a prosecution under AETA, though arguably they could if an animal activist committed them. They represent, after all, “the loss of profits…resulting from…trespass… taken against an entity…” See how the law could be manipulated to make any animal activist-related crime a form of terrorism? That’s not how laws are supposed to work.
Animal rights activists commonly seek to publicize the horrific treatment of animals at certain businesses and organize community campaigns in opposition to such treatment. Such businesses are certainly ‘animal enterprises.’ Publicizing and community organizing inevitably involves the use of a facility of interstate commerce; and activists have the intent of ‘damaging’ or interfering with corporations’ operations – the purpose of their advocacy is to cause businesses to suffer economically and be forced either to change their practices or to cease doing business entirely because of public outrage.

Why do authorities pursue animal activists under AETA? That’s easy. Big businesses like the American Meat Institute, National Milk Producers Federation and the Fur Commission USA pushed hard to pass the legislation. They fear the results that animal activists can achieve, and they had to do something about it.

“If animal rights activists could count on the AETA only be used to prosecute physical damage to tangible property, as this judge interprets the statute, that would be comforting,” CCR’s Rachel Meeropol told Courthouse News. “But the plain language of the law suggests that it could be used much more broadly, to punish peaceful protest that impacts a corporation’s bottom line.”

The 7th Circuit opinion upheld the conviction and, among other things, determined that the defendants aren’t suffering from denial of a substantive due process right to not be tried for a non-violent crime under a law with the word “terrorism” in the title. According to the court, the statute’s official title is “Force, violence, and threats involving animal enterprises,” not the colloquial “Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act.”

Oh, I guess Lang and Johnson should feel better about that? It’s all good, said the court, because Lang and Johnson won’t be required to register as “terrorists” or be subject to any sentence enhancement based on having committed a terrorist act.

Will there be a further appeal? That remains to be seen, but we can hope CCR, Lang and Johnson will try. It’s ridiculous for a court to assert that it hasn’t forever branded these two young men as “terrorists.” They certainly have. It’s a conviction under a law that everyone calls the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act.

AETA is meant to instill fear in animal activists everywhere. And after this case, it will continue to do so. Many activists aren’t afraid to risk jail for their cause, but being unofficially branded a terrorist will be a bridge too far for some. I don’t blame them a bit for that fear.
http://www.care2.com/causes/animal-activists-who-freed-thousands-of-minks-charged-with-terrorism.html

Photo Credit: Dzivnieku briviba/Flickr
Copyright © 2017 Care2.com, inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved

Care2 Team Blog

Advertisements

In Memoriam ~ Tony the Tiger 2000 – 2017

No words… From The Animal Legal Defense Fund: We are deeply saddened to share the death of Tony, the Siberian-Bengal tiger held captive in the Tiger Truck Stop parking lot in Grosse Tete, Louisiana.

Thank you to everyone who donated,boycotted, protested and sign petitions!

Source: In Memoriam ~ Tony the Tiger 2000 – 2017

Want to Help Animals Displaced by Hurricane Harvey? Check This Out | One Green Planet

Natasha Brooks

August 28, 2017

Natural disasters affect humans and animals alike, and Hurricane Harvey is forcing many families to evacuate to emergency shelters, where pets are not permitted due to possible allergic reactions from other people at the shelters. As a result, animal guardians are unwillingly relinquishing their beloved pets to animal shelters.

Austin Pets Alive! (APA!), an animal rescue in Austin, Texas, is working hard to keep up with the growing animal shelter populations, and as of this past Saturday, they have transported 235 animals to their shelter, and they anticipate many more.

APA! says they are humbled by the outpouring of support they have received, but they still need more assistance, and they are asking you for your help to save and care for these frightened and displaced animals who have been tragically separated from their families.

Due to the generous donations they have already received, APA! is running out of storage space for crates, bags of dry food, and other large items. They are asking for financial donations in lieu of these items, which will allow them to allocate funds as needed. If you are able, you can donate to APA! here. If you are in the Austin area, they will also accept donations of flea and tick treatment, bedding, and treats.

If you cannot make a financial contribution, you can help save these innocent lives by volunteering as a foster or adopting one of these animals. Fostering truly does save lives, and APA! is asking for volunteers who will be able to commit to fostering until the animals are adopted to forever homes. To learn more about fostering or adopting through APA!, visit here.

There is great power in a community joining together for a common good, so please share this with your network to help gain more support for the victims of Hurricane Harvey.

Image Source: Pixabay/pexels.com

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01EZ5UT7O/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o02_s01?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Wolf Patrol Needs Your Help!

Source: Wolf Patrol Needs Your Help!

Petition · Edgar Hernandez, Senior Manager Customer Care: HGVC Waikoloa – Allow Animal Rescues to Help Your Cat Communities! · Change.org


https://www.change.org/p/edgar-hernandez-senior-manager-customer-care-hgvc-waikoloa-allow-animal-rescues-to-help-your-cat-communities?source_location=petition_footer&algorithm=promoted&grid_position=4&pt=AVBldGl0aW9uAGDnoQAAAAAAWOmq6MIqNTk0MTA5ZDViYQ%3D%3D

Abused Dog Gets A New Nose And Lots Of Adoption Offers | Care2 Causes


http://www.care2.com/causes/abused-dog-gets-a-new-nose-and-lots-of-adoption-offers.html

Petition: Don’t Let Trump Kill the Endangered Species Act


http://www.thepetitionsite.com/263/711/826/defend-endangered-species-dont-defang-the-esa/

Petition: Demand that Japan Ban Kill Shelters NOW! Let’s Get 1 MILLION Signatures!


http://www.thepetitionsite.com/543/346/695/%E3%80%901000000-signatures-to-end-kill-shelters-japan-project%E3%80%91-end-animal-disposal./

‘Rescuer’ Pulls Hundreds Of Dogs From Shelters — And Then Abandons Them All


https://www.thedodo.com/shelter-dogs-abandoned-arkansas-2130072495.html

VICTORY! Horrific Staffordshire Rabbit Farm Rejected | PETA UK

More than 17,000 PETA supporters spoke out against this planning application for a factory farm which would have bred rabbits for their flesh and skin.

Source: VICTORY! Horrific Staffordshire Rabbit Farm Rejected | PETA UK

Petition update · Dear supporters, · Change.org


Mr. Ambadassor YU Qingtai, President of China Xi Jinping: Stop Cruelty on Cats and Dogs in China!
by Helena Anttila · 19,441 supporters
Petition update
Dear supporters,
Helena Anttila
Turku, Finland

Oct 30, 2016 — Dear supporters, My petition has been added to the following website: http://www.stopthedogandcatmeattradeworldwide.com/petitions.html. In that website my petition gets more visibility than before. Therefore I have not shut down my petition, and I will send it again to China. Please keep sharing. We well keep on fighting and pressuring China until the cruelty ends. Thank you for you all. You are good people!

Dear supporters,
Share this petition
19,441 supporters
5,559 needed to reach 25,000

Share on Facebook
Mr. Ambadassor YU Qingtai, President of…
Send an email to friends
Tweet to your followers

https://www.change.org/p/mr-ambadassor-yu-qingtai-president-of-china-xi-jinping-stop-cruelty-on-cats-and-dogs-in-china?recruiter=44240641&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink

Tap and hold the link to copy it
Embed

© 2016, Change.org, Inc.Certified B Corporation

Puppy Thrown Off Roof In Viral Video Begins Her Recovery


https://www.thedodo.com/dog-thrown-rooftop-video-india-1906540386.html?utm_source=The+Dodo+Newsletter&utm_campaign=bcb3412116-07_07_2016_NL&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_4342b46fc5-bcb3412116-142011469

Success: Zookeeper Accused of Whipping Tiger Charged with Animal Cruelty

 

A zookeeper was charged with animal cruelty after a video surfaced showing him allegedly torturing a Siberian tiger with a whip. Thank the Ontario SPCA for investigating the matter and charging this notorious animal abuser.

Source: Success: Zookeeper Accused of Whipping Tiger Charged with Animal Cruelty

Peace Love and Rhinos

Fight for Rhinos

Rhino 1  Bring the beauty of the rhino home this holiday with our exclusive rhino ornaments.

We proudly offer these sustainable maple ornaments, made in the USA, to our rhino loving supporters for only  $12.50 (shipping and handling included). In order to make them so affordable we can only offer them to residents in the US (excluding HI or AK). 

Support our rhinos, showcase this natural and beautiful rhino on your tree or give it as a gift. Each ornament is unique as shades vary slightly. Available while supplies last.

Buy Now!

052

View original post