Stupidity on trial
Protect me, I dare you
Accused of Aiding Animals by Making Prey of People
By DAVID KOCIENIEWSKI
Published: March 1, 2006
TRENTON, Feb. 28 — A scientist at a New Jersey animal testing laboratory found his car overturned and the windows of his home smashed. An insurance company executive in Texas received an e-mail message threatening to behead her 7-year-old son. A Bank of New York employee on Long Island found his home vandalized and his 21-foot fishing boat sunk.
At least two threads connected those attacks and more than a dozen others nationwide from 2001 to 2003, according to federal prosecutors. All of the victims worked for companies that did business with Huntingdon Life Sciences, a British company that operates an animal testing lab in Somerset County, N.J. And their home addresses and other personal information were all posted on the Web site of the animal rights group Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty.
Federal authorities insist that the pattern of violence was no coincidence. For the past three weeks, federal prosecutors have been trying to convince a federal jury that the group and six of its members are guilty of conspiracy and stalking, though there was no evidence that any of the defendants committed any of the violence.
If convicted, the defendants face prison sentences of up to 23 years and fines of more than $1 million.
The trial, which began jury deliberations on Tuesday in United States District Court here, marks the first time that federal officials have sought to prosecute activists under the Animal Enterprise Terror Act, passed in 1992 to curb the most aggressive tactics of some animal rights groups.
But the activists assert that they are guilty of nothing more than overzealousness and bad manners. While defense lawyers have conceded that the group's members were occasionally combative in tone, they argued that their clients were simply exercising their First Amendment right to protest and should not be held responsible for violence committed by unknown extremists.
"Advocating obnoxiously is not a crime," said Eric Schneider, a lawyer for Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty's former president, 28-year-old Kevin Kjonaas.
They also said the group members sought to terrorize their targets by posting their children's names, ages, schools and after-school schedules.
Sally Dillenback, an executive at an insurance company in Dallas that covered Huntingdon, testified that her 7-year-old son was so intimidated by the group's protests outside her home that he once grabbed a knife when he heard the doorbell rang.
"He said, 'Mommy, I want to protect you from the animal people,' " Ms. Dillenback testified.
They're all going to jail for a very long time.
Juries do not like to see terrorists, especially spoiled middle class, terrorists, threating to behead small children and destroying property.
And since these folks are playing a shell game, they have an excellent idea of how these things happened, it is unlikely a jury is going to let people who condone threats against small children walk free. No one knows who threw what fruit at Ruby Bridges, but they sure have that Norman Rockwell painting in their heads and how ugly it made the protesters look, without seeing one.
Well, in an era where parents, especially suburban parents, live in fear of kidnapping, I'd uh, have taken a deal. Because the mental image of a seven year old running to the door with a knife is not one which a jury will forget.
The problem is that even if the feds can't prove they did anything, they can prove that they incited violence, and that will be enough.
See, if thie was dumping paint on fur and stuff like that, yeah, they might walk, but placing kids at risk will probably be their doom. Because every jury member can see a family member coming to harm because of these people.
I think a lot of these folks forget exactly how powerful the feds can be. They can ruin your life, destroy relationships, turn your friends against you and this is just the start. How many of these people will not rat out their "comrades" when facing hard time for terrorism.
posted by Steve @ 1:56:00 AM