Federal authorities have arrested four animal rights activists suspected in anti-vivisection actions in Santa Cruz and Alameda counties, a federal terrorism task force reported Friday.
The Joint Terrorism Task Force of the FBI arrested four animal rights activists as “terrorists.” Details of the arrests and the charges are still coming, but this is the most sweeping expansion of the War on Terrorism and the “Green Scare” to date.
Three of them were linked to the Riverside Avenue home police raided after the attempted home invasion attack of a UC Santa Cruz researcher a year ago. However, in what authorities consider the most egregious of animal rights-related incidents targeting UC scientists during the past year: two August 2008 firebombings at the homes of UCSC biomedical researchers.
These “terrorism” arrests are not related to that bombing, though. And they’re also not related to the destruction of property. These activists–Nathan Pope, Adriana Stumpo, Joseph Buddenberg, and Maryam Khajavi– were arrested for First Amendment activity. Lovely!
With the passage of the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, a sweeping new law labeling animal rights activists as “terrorists,” corporations and industry groups have been pushing the federal government to use their new powers. For more than two years, the law has sat on the shelf. The government has finally put it to use.
As background, a fierce campaign is being waged in California against animal research at the University of California system. There has been a wide range of both legal and illegal tactics. Illegal tactics have included the destruction of UC vans. In August, an incendiary device was left at the home of a UC researcher; no animal rights group has claimed responsibility for this crime, but the university, the FBI and others have recklessly attributed it to activists.
According to the act:
Whoever uses or causes to be used any facility of interstate commerce for the purpose of damaging or interfering with the operations of an animal enterprise, and in connection with such purpose intentionally places a person in reasonable fear of fear of death or serious bodily injury to that person or an immediate family member, or conspires or attempts to do so, by a course of conduct involving threats, acts of vandalism, property damage, criminal trespass, harassment or intimidation, shall be imprisoned for not more than five years.
Stephen E. Thorsett, the dean of UCSC’s Division of Physical and Biological Sciences. “Our students, staff, and faculty — who are doing important research into the causes and cures for human diseases such as cancer and Parkinson’s — deserve to work and live in a safe environment, without fear that they and their families will be targets of violent actions and threats.”
The suspects will be charged at least in part under the federal Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, which carries a penalty of up to five years for each violation. It wasn’t immediately clear how many counts the suspects will face when they appear in U.S. District Court later this month.
The foursome are accused of being involved in demonstrations in front of homes of UC Berkeley researchers in October 2007 and January 2008, as well a protest and home invasion attempt at the California Street house in February 2008. In that attack, which occurred during a child’s birthday party, the scientist’s husband suffered minor injuries. UCLA researchers have also been the target of firebombings.
“The investigation is still going on,” Schadler said. “There is much more being done. It doesn’t just stop with an arrest.”
Here are the four charges they are facing, according to GreenIsTheNewRed.com:
- Protesting outside the home of a University of California Berkeley professor. Some activists, “wearing bandanas to hide their faces, trespassed on his front yard, chanted slogans, and accused him of being a murderer because of his use of animals in research.”
- At another protest, activists “marched, chanted, and chalked defamatory comments on the public sidewalks in front of the residences.”
- At one protest, a group of five or six activists allegedly “attempted to forcibly enter the private home of a University of California researcher in Santa Cruz.”
- Fliers titled “Murderers and torturers alive & well in Santa Cruz July 2008 edition” were found at a local coffee shop. They listed the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of several researchers. The fliers said “animal abusers everywhere beware we know where you live we know where you work we will never back down until you end your abuse.” The FBI says three of the defendants are tied to the “production and distribution of the fliers.”
Chalking, leafleting and protesting are crimes of violence?
I have to agree with Will Potter:
The government is chipping away at fringe elements, silencing the speech of so-called radicals as “terrorists.” But this is not the end, it is the beginning. Such an overt targeting of First Amendment activity puts every social movement, every activist, and every American at risk. Targeting free speech as “animal enterprise terrorism” sets a precedent set for targeting the speech of other activists as “defense enterprise terrorism,” “timber enterprise terrorism,” and “financial enterprise terrorism.”
At issue here is not the validity or morality of animal research, nor is it the efficacy of controversial tactics. Differences of opinion on those issues no longer matter. What’s at issue is whether the War on Terrorism should be used to target protesters as terrorists.
Source: Green Is the New Red