Three animal rights activists were shot with brass pellets during a recent protest against puppy mills in Santa Monica, California. According to local news outlets, the police are investigating the shootings as an assault with a deadly weapon.
About 20 activists were protesting Aquarium & Pet Center in Santa Monica, which they say sells dogs bred in puppy mills in inhumane conditions.
Carole Raphaelle Davis, the West Coast director of the Companion Animal Protection Society, said store employees have threatened the protesters and were seen laughing after three activists were hit.
The shooting resulted in minor injuries, including welts.
“It’s shocking to think that people would try to intimidate people or cause them harm simply because they expressed their views,” said WeHo council member Jeffrey Prang, who has been working with the group to write a municipal ban on the re-selling of any pets except bred or rescued animals in West Hollywood.
The incident is disturbing enough on its own, but it needs to be put in a broader context. The animal rights and environmental movements are labeled the “number one domestic terrorism threat,” according to the FBI. Some elements of those movements have engaged in property destruction, economic sabotage and arson. In the history of the U.S. animal rights movement, though, not one person has ever been targeted with physical violence and no one has been shot.
If an animal rights activist had committed a crime like this, against an animal researcher for instance, they would undoubtedly be prosecuted as a “terrorists” under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act.
In fact, the government’s threshold for what constitutes “terrorism” is much, much lower when it comes to the conduct of animal rights and environmental activists. Right now, four animal rights activists in California are facing charges under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act for chanting and chalking slogans on the sidewalk. They’re being labeled “terrorists.”
Incidents like this should be it abundantly clear that there are two systems of law in this country. One is for the wealthy, the corporations, the animal research industry. If they are under attack, they can lobby for new terrorism legislation and pressure the politicians and government officials who represent them to crack down on the “terrorists.” They can carve out special crimes to protect them, and only them.
The other system of law is for everybody else. If they are under attack–through violence, not just home protests or economic sabotage–well, it’s just business as usual.
So what do you think? Will the government labeling this violent, politically-motivated crime “terrorism”?