Grand Jury Used Against Eco-Activists Falsely Accused of “Terrorism”

Layne Mullett

Scott also refused to testify and was taken to jail, but two days after Scott’s detention he was charged with conspiracy under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA). If convicted, he faces 3-5 years in prison. He was released on November 30th pending trial (set to begin on September 13th, 2010). AETA was signed into law in late 2006 after being pushed through Congress by influential biomedical and agri-business industry groups. The law essentially criminalizes and defines as “terrorist” any activity which interferes with an animal enterprise’s ability to turn a profit. Passed in the context of the post 9-11 “war on terror,” AETA broadens the definition of terrorism and is a clear example of an industry using the legal system to protect its financial interests.

There is no substantive evidence connecting Scott or Carrie to the 2004 action. At the time, Carrie was only 15 years old and Scott only 17; both resided in the Twin Cities. Instead, the prosecution is targeting them for their political beliefs and the work they do in their communities. Carrie has been involved in many activist projects in the Twin Cities, including Coldsnap Legal Collective, Earth Warriors Are OK! (EWOK!)—a collective committed to supporting political prisoners, particularly those targeted by the Green Scare—and the Jack Pine Community Center (JPCC). Scott has been involved in the Anarchist Black Cross and the JPCC, and is a part of EWOK! He is also a member of the Anpao Duta (Red Dawn) Collective, a Dakota community journal building awareness of growing Dakota decolonization struggles, and part of Oyate Nipi Kte (The People Shall Live), a collective working to acquire land to establish liberated space for traditional Dakota language, cultural, spiritual, and community immersion in order to plant the seeds of political self determination and sovereignty.

Scott and Carrie’s incarceration and the subsequent terrorism charges against Scott are indicative of the length to which the state will go to stifle dissent and create a chilling effect on movements for social justice. While only a handful of people have been charged so far under the AETA and its predecessor, the Animal Enterprise Protection Act, it sets a dangerous precedent. The continual expansion of what is defined as “terrorism” is intended to scare people away from social justice movements, and has already resulted in the detention and incarceration of hundreds of Muslims living in the United States, as well as increased repression, harassment and isolation of already incarcerated political prisoners. And of course, if the animal enterprise lobby can get a law criminalizing the animal rights movement, other industry groups could easily follow suit. The AETA is harmful to more than just the animal rights movement—activists like Scott and Carrie have to spend months fighting bogus charges while their communities face increased scrutiny and harassment from law enforcement—and it only paves the way for laws further criminalizing communities whose interests come up against corporate profit and power.

The State uses repression to undermine resistance and to grow the prison industrial complex, minimizing threats to its own stability and feeding the need for an ever growing prison population in one fell swoop. The Davenport affair is no exception. As is clear in this case and thousands of others, the State intends to use politically motivated legislation and prosecution to destroy our movements. And equally clear is that, once again, the State has misjudged the strength of our convictions and our capacity for solidarity with each other. Carrie spent four months in jail rather than testify in front of a grand jury, and Scott faces years in prison. And in the Twin Cities, Iowa and across the country, many people stand with them. As the State continues its relentless push to lock up millions of people, stifle resistance and criminalize dissent, we can and will continue to come together to fight these bogus charges, the criminalization of our movements and the prison industrial complex itself.

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