Their Turn - The Social Justice Movement of Our Time Their Turn - The Social Justice Movement of Our Time


Documentary Exposes U.S. Government’s War on Animal Rights “Terrorists”

February 17, 2016 by Leave a Comment

The News

“Investigating and preventing animal rights extremism is one of our highest domestic terrorism priorities. We are committed to working with our partners to disrupt and dismantle these movements; to protect our fellow citizens; and to bring to justice those who commit crimes and terrorism in the name of animal rights.”

Footage of an FBI agent delivering these chilling remarks at a U.S. Senate hearing is just one of many historic moments included in “Activists or Terrorists?,” a half hour Participant Media documentary narrated by Maggie Gyllenhaal that exposes the U.S. government’s tyrannical effort to intimidate and silence animal rights activists. Following is a short clip:

Profiled in the documentary are several activists who have been victims of government repression, including Lauren Gazzola and Andy Stepanian, who were convicted of terrorism and sent to prison for their role in undermining the animal testing behemoth Huntington Life Sciences, and Will Potter, an investigative journalist threatened by the FBI to be put on a domestic terrorist list if he didn’t agree to become an informant.

Will Potter captures factory farm footage with a drone before being confronted by the property owners

Will Potter uses a drone to captures factory farm footage before being confronted by the owners

Also profiled are activist Ryan Shapiro and attorney Jeffrey Light, who have used freedom of information laws to uncover the government’s war on the animal rights movement — a crusade backed by the multi-national corporations that exploit animals.

Andy Stepanian is arrested during a fur protest at Macy's in the lat 90s.

Andy Stepanian is arrested during a fur protest at Macy’s in the late 90s.

“Activists or Terrorists?,” which airs on Friday, February 19 at 10pm ET on Pivot TV, is one of ten episodes in a docs-series called “Truth or Power” about how private institutions and governments violate the public trust. Following is a trailer for the series:

According to the producers, the series “highlights the stories of ordinary people going to extraordinary lengths to expose large-scale injustice: from corporations receiving lucrative government contracts for dangerous private prisons, to governments using data-gathering technology to scoop up huge amounts of information about their citizens.”

Filed under: Experimentation, Food
Tagged with: , , ,

Beware of Domestic Terrorists

August 28, 2014 by Leave a Comment


When Congress passed the industry-backed Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA) in 2006, the use of “terrorist” to describe animal rights activists became socially acceptable. Peculiar, no? Terrorists use suicide bombs and planes as weapons; activists use cameras and leaflets. Terrorists torture and kill indiscriminately; activists work to reduce suffering and harm. Do ISIS and Hamas look to the animal rights movement for guidance? Are they emulating our tactics? Probably not.

Don’t get me wrong. There are terrorists in the equation — they are the people who terrorize animals in factory farms, in laboratories, on fur farms and in many other windowless buildings that keep the public in the dark. These terrorists attempt to use the AETA to shift attention away from their own atrocities: “Hey – let’s pay members of Congress to pass a law that equates animal activism to terrorism so that the activists become the enemy and we become the victim.”

The animal industries’ use of the word “terrorist” to demonize activists was an exploitation of the public’s fear and vulnerability in a post 9/11 era, and animal abusers in other countries picked up on this approach. In 2013, leaders of the bullfighting business in France described the country’s anti-bullfight association a “terrorist organization” when calling on the government to dissolve it.

Kevin Oliff and Tyler Lang. Photo by Dom Greco

Kevin Oliff and Tyler Lang. Photo by Dom Greco

In July, two activists in California, Kevin Olliff and Tyler Lang, were arrested and charged under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act for allegedly releasing 2,000 mink and foxes from fur farms. Will Potter, author of Green Is the New Red: An Insider’s Account of a Social Movement Under Siege, tells their story.

How do the victims of actual terrorism and their families feel about the use of “terrorist” to describe animal rights activists? And why do people accept this bastardization of the word? Is it simply because they haven’t given it any thought? Or, is it because categorizing activists as terrorists helps people rationalize their own behavior. After all, eating and wearing animals is less egregious than being a terrorist.

Under AETA, anyone who causes the loss of property or profits to institutions that use or sell animals can be prosecuted. The law is vague, and it is unconstitutional because it violates free speech. Eventually, it will be overturned. Learn more about AETA and where it stands now.

Filed under: Opinion
Tagged with: , , , ,

Should Blackfish Producer CNN Be Charged Under Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA) given SeaWorld’s Plunging Stock Price?

August 13, 2014 by Leave a Comment


With shares of SeaWorld crashing as a result of the documentary film Blackfish, will the movie’s producer, CNN, be charged with terrorism? Under the 2006 Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA), anyone who causes the loss of property or profits to institutions that use or sell animals can be prosecuted and face up to 20 years in prison, depending on the amount of profit loss.  This overly broad law has not only compromised our constitutional right to free speech and free assembly but has also changed the public discourse, giving people permission to describe animal advocates as “terrorists.”  The irony is that the real terrorists here are the companies (or institutions) that the activists are targeting.  These companies employ terror when they kidnap, deprive, mutilate, confine, neglect, torture, slaughter and skin animals alive in factory and fur farms, behind circus tents, in laboratories and, of course, in the tanks of Sea World. Of course, the federal government would never file terrorism charges against CNN because it would be a PR disaster, but I wish they would because a spotlight on AETA would force Congress to change or eliminate the law. In early August, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review AETA, claiming it violates the First Amendment.

Photo: NBC News

Photo: NBC News


Filed under: Entertainment, Opinion
Tagged with: , ,

An Update on the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act

August 6, 2014 by Leave a Comment

The News

The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the federal Animal Enterprise Act (AETA), claiming it violates the First Amendment. Under AETA, which was passed in 2006, anyone who causes the loss of property or profits to institutions that use or sell animals can be prosecuted and face up to 20 years in prison, depending on the amount of profit loss. CCR claims that AETA is vague and “makes no distinction between loss caused by criminal acts and loss caused by constitutionally-protected activity.”

Trespassing = terrorism?

Trespassing = terrorism?

News & Opinion

What’s scarier?  The fact that big business was able to convince Congress to pass a law describing non-violent animal rights activists as “terrorists” or the fact that exercising our first amendment right to free speech can land us in jail, if it’s animal abusers we are targeting. Does that mean I can be arrested for protesting horse-drawn carriages in midtown Manhattan if potential customers decide not to take a ride after seeing my poster? Activists have already been prosecuted and sent to prison under AETA, but the law, which is so clearly unconstitutional, will eventually be overturned.  Learn more about AETA and see how you can help at the Center for Constitutional Rights.

Filed under: Entertainment, Experimentation, Food
Tagged with: , ,

Lawyer for Activists Who Liberated Mink Challenge Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act Charges

July 30, 2014 by Leave a Comment

The News

According to the Chicago Tribune, “the lawyer for one of two California animal activists accused of sabotaging an Illinois mink farm and releasing about 2,000 animals into the wild last year said today he plans to challenge the constitutionality of the federal “animal enterprise terrorism” charges the men are facing.” The lawyer, Michael Deutsch, said that AETA “is overbroad and potentially criminalizes free speech rights protected by the First Amendment” and that it “unfairly brands activism as terrorism.”   The activists, Tyler Lang and Kevin Johnson (aka Kevin Olliff) spray-painted “LIBERATION IS LOVE” in big red letters on the side of a barn after liberating the mink. 

Kevin Johnson (Illinois Department of Corrections / July 29, 2014)

Kevin Johnson (Illinois Dept. of Corrections / July 29, 2014)

News & Opinion

Let me get this straight: The “terrorists” are the individuals who free captive animals from intensive confinement and emotional and physical torture, and the “victims” are the people who are terrorizing the animals?  I would ask how that is even possible, but then I remind myself that mainstream society found ways to justify the slaughter of native Americans, the enslavement of people who look different and the deprivation of basic human rights to large fractions of society. The AETA must go.


Filed under: Clothes
Tagged with: , , , ,