Saturday, July 17, 2010

Solidarity with the AETA 4

from Scott and Carrie Support

We write in solidarity with the AETA 4 on their victory in a San Jose
federal court on July 12, 2010. The Judge dismissed the case because
the state failed to explain exactly what the defendants allegedly did
and how it amounted to a violation of law.

Adriana Stumpo, Maryam Khjavi, Nathan Pope, and Joseph Buddenberg
were charged under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA) for
mobilizing support of animal rights and for expressing their
opposition to animal experimentation through sidewalk chalking,
chanting, distributing flyers, attending public protests, and the
alleged use of "the Internet to find information on bio-medical
researchers." In other words, they were charged under a terrorism law
for activities that are protected under the U.S. Constitution. Judge
Ronald Whyte's dismissal of the case was the only legally sensible
decision. And while this is certainly a moment to celebrate, Judge
Whyte made it clear that the state could still re-file charges at a
later date, so we move forward with cautious optimism.

Meanwhile, the only other AETA case still in formal litigation
concerns Scott DeMuth, a Minneapolis-based anarchist, graduate
student, and Dakota language student charged with conspiracy under
that law. The state claims DeMuth is linked to Animal Liberation
Front (ALF) actions in Iowa and Minnesota in 2004 and 2006. Thus far,
the "evidence" offered up against DeMuth amounts to the prosecution's
view that his "writings, literature, and conduct suggest that he is
an anarchist and associated with the ALF movement. Therefore, he is a
domestic terrorist." That's right: Scott's ideas, his
constitutionally protected political activities (such as volunteering
with an eco-political prisoner support group in the Twin Cities), and
his alleged affiliations are enough to brand him a "terrorist."

Both the AETA 4 and DeMuth cases demonstrate that, all too often, the
government seeks to criminalize and persecute activists whether they
work above or below ground, and regardless of evidence of any illegal
activity. Therefore, these cases are about much more than animal
rights and animal enterprises. In fact, the message from the Animal
Enterprise Terrorism Act and its supporters is for every one of us:
if you express opposition to any powerful institution in this
country, you may become a target of government repression and be
labeled a terrorist. Since around half of all USAmericans object to
animal experimentation and since the public's trust in government is
presently at an historic low, it would seem that we have an
opportunity to build massive popular support for abolishing the AETA
and for strengthening freedom movements everywhere. Let's get to work.

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