[Ppnews] Animal Rights Activists Indicted as “Terrorists” For Home Protests

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Thu Mar 19 11:47:26 EDT 2009

Rights Activists Indicted as “Terrorists” For Home Protests

Mar 19th, 2009 by 
<http://www.greenisthenewred.com/blog/author/will-potter/>Will Potter

When four animal rights activists were arrested 
under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, it was 
unclear how prosecutors would proceed, and what 
specific accusations the activists would face. 
Now, the 
indictment, available here for the first time, 
makes it strikingly clear that prosecutors intend 
to use terrorism laws to target First Amendment activity.

The “AETA 4,”­Joseph Buddenburg, Maryam Khajavi, 
Nathan Pope, and Adriana Stumpo­have been 
indicted for “conspiracy” to violate the 
Enterprise Terrorism Act. As justification of the 
charge, the indictment lists three specific acts:
    * A protest on October 21, 2007, at an animal 
researcher’s home. The government says this 
amounts to “threats, criminal trespass, 
harassment and intimidation.” In the criminal 
complaint, the FBI said that on this date 
“protesters trespassed onto Professor Number 
One’s front yard and rang his doorbell several 
times. The group was making a lot of noise and 
chanting animal rights slogans (“1, 2, 3, 4 open 
up the cage door; 5, 6, 7, 8, smash the locks and 
liberate; 9, 10, 11, 12, vivisectors go to hell”)
    * A protest on January 27, 2008, at an animal 
researcher’s home. The government says this 
amounts to “threats, harassment, and 
intimidation.” In the criminal complaint, the FBI 
said that on this date approximately 11 
individuals demonstrated at the homes of multiple 
researchers. “At each residence, the individuals, 
dressed generally in all black clothing and 
wearing bandanas over their nose and mouth, 
marched, chanted, and chalked defamatory comments on the public sidewalks
    * Use of the Internet. They allegedly “used 
the Internet to find information on bio-medical 
researchers at the University of California at Santa Cruz.”

Even more telling, though, is what is not listed 
in the indictment. In the 
complaint and the FBI press release, the 
government mentioned the above allegations along 
with two other incidents­the only two incidents 
even approaching a “gray area” between protected speech and illegal conduct.
    * At one protest attended by the defendants, 
a researcher “struggled with one individual and 
was hit with a dark, firm object,” according to the FBI. (February 24, 2008)
    * A stack of fliers titled “Murderers and 
torturers alive & well in Santa Cruz July 2008 
edition” was found at a local coffee shop, Café 
Pergolesi. The fliers said “we know where you 
live we know where you work we will never back 
down until you end your abuse” and listed home 
addresses and telephone numbers. The FBI used 
video surveillance to allegedly link the flier 
distribution to the defendants. (July 29, 2008)

Now, to be very clear, the details in an 
indictment aren’t the final word in any criminal 
case. They never reveal too much of the 
prosecution’s hand. They do, however, lay the 
backbone of the government’s case and put the prosecution’s best foot forward.

Omitting the most controversial, 
potentially-illegal activity, and instead 
focusing on protests that involved chalking 
slogans and chanting, sends a very clear message 
of where this is all heading. This case and 
others like it are not about underground groups 
like the Animal Liberation Front, they are not 
about “violence,” they are not about the real potential for violence.

They are about using the “War on Terrorism” to 
chip away at basic First Amendment rights and criminalize dissent.

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