Four animal rights activists are facing charges under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act for chanting, demonstrating with masks covering their faces, and chalking defamatory slogans on the sidewalk. If convicted, the “AETA 4,”—Joseph Buddenburg, Maryam Khajavi, Nathan Pope, and Adriana Stumpo—could be sentenced to 5-10 years in prison.
The AETA 4 case is a startling example of how federal terrorism laws are being used to create new crimes targeting political activists, and astronomically increase sentences for existing crimes. For instance, Marie Mason was sentenced to nearly 22 years in prison for setting fire to empty buildings and taking precautions to not harm anyone.
Meanwhile, during a Congressional hearing on the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, the Justice Department proclaimed “we are apolitical in this.” But this is anything but apolitical. Animal rights activists could receive 5-10 years in prison, as terrorists, for not harming anyone or attempting to harm anyone. Meanwhile, take a look at what some others are facing for much more serious crimes:
- Burning at a cross at the home of an African-American man, close to his home, while his family is inside: 3.5 years.
- Threatening president-elect Obama with statements including, “I’m going to assassinate the new president of the United States of America. PS you have 48 hours to stop it from happening”: four years probation.
- Setting fire to a hotel with people inside: 1 year.
- Police officer rapes a girl in juvenile custody: 8 months.
- Assaulting black men on election night because Obama was elected president: about 5 years.
- Enron exec guilty of $7 million in wire fraud and securities fraud: 16 months.
- Possessing child pornography: 4 years.
- Tying up a black student and taunting him with racial epithets as part of a high school graduation party: six months.
- Mailing anthrax threats to the IRS: one year.
- “Using the Internet to threaten to destroy buildings of the Federal Bureau of Investigation by fire or explosives”: one year.
- Cleveland Browns wide receiver Donte Stallworth kills a construction worker while driving drunk: 30 days.
- Threatening to bomb an Air Force base: one year.
- Drunken man drives over his brother during an argument: 1.5 years.
- Scheming to defraud an insurance company through arson: 2 years.
- Mailing anthrax threats to an assistant U.S. attorney: up to 5 years.
- Manufacturing and selling home-made explosive devices: 5 years probation
- Sending 65 anthrax hoax letters: four years.
- Dumping nearly 13 million gallons of untreated liquid waste: 15 months.
- Threatening to bomb the Oklahoma city federal building: up to 5 years.
- Setting a dog on fire and burning 50 percent of his body: 45 days.
According to the government, high sentences for animal rights activists are intended as a deterrent, they are intended to send a message.
What kind of message do you think this sends?
Note: Funds are needed for the AETA 4 legal defense. Please make a contribution. Go to Paypal.com and send a donation to firstname.lastname@example.org. Or you can make a tax-deductible donation through the National Lawyers Guild Foundation. The mailing address is 132 Nassau Street, Suite 922, NY, NY 10039, please indicate AETA Defense Fund on your check.