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LCA Blog

Blog for Last Chance for Animals, an international non-profit dedicated to ending animal cruelty and exploitation.

Why the US Government Calls Animal Activists 'Terrorists'

On February 19, 2016, cable channel Pivot aired an episode of their acclaimed docu-series Truth and Power  that focused on the nefarious link between the animal agriculture industry and the U.S. government. The episode, entitled “Activists or Terrorists?” details the ongoing struggle to expose animal cruelty on factory farms, especially since the passage of the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA) in 2006. This freedom-crushing legislation was promoted by the medical research industry to target the anti-vivisection movement and was fast-tracked through Congress without hearings, debates, or even an official vote.

“Vivisectors call anti-vivisectionists ‘terrorists,’” says LCA founder Chris DeRose. “But who is it that is inflicting pain and death in procedures too awful for a sane person to imagine?”

The AETA reclassifies terrorism to include acts of civil disobedience, undercover investigations, and even organized protests should they be blamed for any “damages or loss of real or personal property" to an animal enterprise or "place a person in reasonable fear" of injury. It takes away tremendous constitutional rights from citizens while giving overwhelming power to private industry. Animal rights activists, who had already been subject to prosecution and arrest, may now be placed on the infamous Terrorist Watch List, labeled as domestic terrorists for acts of non-violent activism.

Even before the AETA, state-sanctioned harassment of animal rights activists had been going on for a very long time. LCA’s own founder, Chris DeRose, was frequently the target of prosecution, and has even been called a terrorist for his actions on behalf of animals.

Chris has been arrested 11 times and been jailed four times for his investigations into and protests against animal cruelty. In the image above, you can see him arrested for peacefully protesting vivisection outside of Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

While Chris has fortunately escaped any major convictions, the government continues to crack down on animal advocates, not just with the AETA but also by passing unconstitutional “ag gag” laws – legislation that prohibits recording or otherwise exposing animal cruelty on factory farms or other agriculrural facilities.

Legislation like the AETA and ag-gag criminalize our rights to free speech and to freely assemble. The systematic targeting of activists by the government has a chilling effect on the world as a whole, and could grow into an even larger problem – in today’s current political climate, similar laws could be fast-tracked to label members of Black Lives Matter, Occupy Wall Street, and 350 as domestic terrorists.

Don’t think it can’t happen – it already has.

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