This weekend, hundreds of animal rights activists are in Los Angeles for the National Animal Rights Conference. A major topic will be corporate efforts to label non-violent protest as “terrorism.” Was a recent arrest by the FBI a means to scare them?
Author Will Potter of Green is the New Red site just reported that two animal activists have just been indicted as federal terrorists for allegedly releasing 2,000 mink from a Midwest fur farm. You may recall his recent TEDx talk we posted, on the topic of severe punishments for peaceful protest now considered “eco-terrorism.” He often informs people of the consequences resulting from the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA) as well as the influx of “ag-gag” laws.
Tyler Lang and Kevin Olliff were charged with two counts of violating AETA and, therefore, committing “animal enterprise terrorism.” Olliff is still in an Illinois jail serving 30 months for having bolt cutters in his car last year. He refused to have police search the vehicle, but while Lang and Olliff were in separate squad cars, police went up with a drug-sniffing dog – and, of course, he “smelled something.” (Not drugs.)
They were arrested for “burglary tools” – a felony, and bail was set in the hundreds of thousands. Apparently, there were fur-farm raids in the area, but eventually they weren’t charged with anything illegal. It’s just that FBI presence in the court and additional charge threats compelled them to accept plea deals. It was the reputation of being “animal rights extremists” that added the pressure. An officer was overheard on the squad radio telling another that Olliff was on the terrorist watch list.
Lang was released in November. On Thursday, however, in Los Angeles, Lang arrived at a Veggie Grill restaurant to prepare a fundraiser for an animal rights group he volunteers for – the Bunny Alliance. Annnnddd…this is where FBI agents decided to arrest him.
Veggie Grill? Bunny Alliance? A restaurant benefit in broad daylight? Has the FBI finally cracked the dark underbelly of a nefarious California terrorist operation?
The government set Lang’s bond at $30,000, whereas pre-trial services had recommended $10,000. Get this: he wasn’t thrown in jail, but he was considered flight risk (as in fleeing prosecution) because of his “extreme activism.” Prosecution said: “He has plans to travel the country for what he calls non-profit work, but what the government calls violent civil disobedience.”
Releasing animals from fur farms is clearly against the law, but in the history of underground groups like the Animal Liberation Front not a single human being has been harmed; yet the FBI continues to label animal rights activism as “terrorism.”
New ag-gag laws go even further, criminalizating whistleblowers, undercover investigators and journalists who expose animal cruelty on factory farms.
Arguably, Los Angeles courts have incredibly high amounts set for bail for just about any crime. Frankly, the amounts are up and down, all over the map. But to shine some perspective in the seriousness of Lang’s bond, it was set for the same amount as assault with a deadly weapon (non-firearm) and throwing something at a car with intention to cause serious injury.
And it’s higher than stealing from someone, sexual battery, inflicting great bodily injury and contacting a minor intending to commit sexual offense with prior conviction. Yet, bails regarding the trapping/hunting of wildlife fall into infractions for a few hundred dollars’ bail, with the exception of taking an endangered mammal – $5,000. (source) So, allegedly setting critters free is far worse than capturing them. And those are all misdemeanor charges – we’re talking about felonies now.
But of course, there are property rights to consider. Just think though, not your petty property rights – law enforcement doesn’t just set people’s pets free, it shoots them dead on a daily basis – no, these are corporate property infringements. Corporations who can now “feel” terrorized. We’re in the federal terrorist felony ballgame now. No more petty crimes – it must carry the weight of terrorism and the punishment must meet the weight.
When a crime isn’t specifically on the bond list, it is set according to a potential prison term which means he could very well be looking at 5 years in prison or more, because various other charges are usually added. However, what are the usual implications of terrorism?
Even an FBI agent outside the courtroom for the bail hearing had to assure someone on the phone: “No, he is being charged with damaging property. Not damaging animals—they are against that.”
See? It’s hard to believe this is the face of terrorism. Yet, they heavily watch peaceful protesters, awaiting the next “terrorist” act.
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