Last year, two Los Angeles-based animal activists—Tyler Lang and Kevin Olliff—were indicted under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA) for allegedly releasing 2,000 mink and foxes from fur farms. They previously faced state charges of “possession of burglary tools” after a traffic stop in August 2013 in which police allegedly found wire cutters and other similar items in their vehicle. Tyler and Kevin both pleaded guilty to the state charges and served jail sentences.
Next week, the court will hear arguments on their attorneys’ motion to dismiss the federal charge based on the constitutionality of the AETA. They argue that the AETA is unconstitutional because it makes no distinction between loss caused by criminal acts and loss caused by boycotts and other constitutionally-protected activity, and that, in any event, punishing non-violent activity as “terrorism” is an unconstitutional denial of due process. This will be a landmark court battle for both activists and the US Constitution—and especially historic because it is the first time a judge will be ruling on the portion of the AETA that makes it a crime to cause a loss of property/profit. Arguments will be heard at 10am on February 19, 2015, at 219 South Dearborn Street, Chicago Illinois. All supporters wearing court-appropriate attire are encouraged to attend.
Tyler and Kevin each face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
Beginning February 12, activists supporting Tyler and Kevin will be participating in a Global Week of Action Against the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act. It will be seven days of talks, workshops, film screenings, protests, etc., to educate the public about federal laws that specifically target animal advocates whose work attempts to stop a person or company from profiting from the use of nonhuman animals.
Passed by Congress and signed into law in 2006, the AETA amended and expanded the Animal Enterprise Protection Act (AEPA). The act makes “damaging or interfering with the operations of an animal enterprise” or “intentionally plac[ing] a person in fear of death or serious bodily injury” federal crimes of terrorism. Needless to say, this Act could have ramifications for every animal activist in the United States; in standing up for Tyler and Kevin, we are standing up for our rights to speak out for animals everywhere.
Please send Kevin a letter of support:
(Note: Kevin Johnson is his legal name.)
KEVIN JOHNSON 47353-424
Metropolitan Correctional Center
71 West Van Buren Street
Chicago, IL 60605
Tyler Lang was released from state custody in November 2013. He is currently out on bond awaiting trial on the federal charges.