FBI agents and law enforcement from multiple agencies have raided a well-known activist group house in Salt Lake City, Utah, today in connection with an investigation of Animal Liberation Front crimes in Iowa.
I just got off the phone with multiple housemates who were there witnessing the raid, and who were able to read the warrant. Details about all of this are still emerging, but at this point it is clear that the warrant was issued by the Southern District of Iowa, and authorizes the seizure of any books, pamphlets, computers and other materials tied to “animal enterprise terrorism.” [UPDATE: Here is copy of the warrant.]
Some background: In Minnesota, a graduate student named Scott DeMuth has been indicted on conspiracy charges under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act. The charges are related to a 2004 raid by the Animal Liberation Front at the University of Iowa.
Another Minnesota activist, Carrie Feldman, has been jailed for refusing to testify about her political beliefs and political associations before a grand jury. Feldman was a teenager at the time of the ALF crime, and says the grand jury is clearly an attempt to harass and intimidate the activist community.
So how did the FBI end up in Utah? One of the housemates, Peter Young, is repeatedly mentioned by name in the warrant. Young was one of the first people prosecuted for “animal enterprise terrorism” in connection to fur farm raids in the late 90s. (His co-defendant Justin Samuel is also mentioned in the warrant). He served two years in prison, and has been living in Salt Lake City, speaking at colleges, and writing on his website, Voice of the Voiceless. He is among the most vocal, public supporters of the ALF and direct action.
The only connection I can decipher between Young and the Iowa investigation is this: in an emergency motion filed against Scott DeMuth, to keep him in jail, the government calls DeMuth an “anarchist” and “domestic terrorist.” As evidence of this, they say he is an “associate” of Peter Young. As DeMuth’s faculty advisor has publicly explained, this is tied to his research as a graduate student.
There are about nine people living at the activist group house in Salt Lake. At least 15 computers were taken by the FBI, along with boxes of documents, notebooks, files, and address books. The house is well-known in the area as a gathering space for animal rights and other activists. No arrests have been made, and at this point it seems Iowa is being used as a pretext for a continued campaign of harassment and intimidation.
Among the items taken from the FBI’s terrorism raid: a postcard for Iowa 80, “the world’s largest truck stop.”
I’ll continue to update as this story develops. In the meantime, this is a good opportunity to plug the National Lawyers Guild hotline, 1-888-NLG-ECOL. Also, please write Carrie Feldman a letter as she continues to resist the grand jury witch hunt. Carolyn Feldman,
770 Iowa St., Dubuque, IA 52001.