California’s Cunningham Plans Anti-terrorism Bill To Protect Farmers and Researchers
By: Norma Bennett Woolf Date: 01/9/2012 Category: | Animal Legislation |
With threats against Huntingdon Life Sciences, its employees, and its financial backers making daily news reports, California Congressman Randy “Duke” Cunningham plans to reintroduce his anti-terrorism bill “hopefully in the next month or two.”
The bill will “most likely be identical” to HR5429, said press secretary Harmony Allen. Dubbed the Researchers and Farmers Freedom from Terrorism act of 2000, HR5429 was introduced in October and died without action. It contained several provisions in the National Animal Interest Alliance Request for Action, a campaign to bring federal law to bear against crimes committed by radical animal rights and environmental activists.
“All across America, animal rights terrorists have declared war on our nation’s farmers and researchers,” Cunningham said when he introduced HR5429 last October. “These terrorists claim that they are fighting for a noble cause. However, their violent reign of terror is not a noble or just cause; it is a threat to all American security and liberty. This campaign of violent, threatening, obstructive, and destructive conduct is aimed at researchers working towards cures for AIDS and cancer and (against) family farms. The extent and interstate nature of this conduct place it beyond the ability of any single state or local jurisdiction to control.”
The original bill increased penalties in the Animal Enterprises Protection Act, allowed prosecution of terrorist crimes under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization law, increased the minimum sentence to five years, specified sentences up to 20 years for damage or attempts to damage by arson or bombs, and held groups responsible for crimes committed in their names.
“I am introducing this legislation because groups such as the Animal Liberation Front and the Earth Liberation Front are openly advocating the destruction of property through pipe-bombing, firebombing, sabotaging, and raiding of facilities that house both animals and medical research personnel,” Cunningham said last October. “More dangerously, these groups advocate the harassment of people that have a prime goal for the betterment of mankind.”
The AEPA was passed in August 1992 to provide federal penalties against crimes committed by activists who cross state lines to trash and burn laboratories, harass researchers and farmers, and release animals from farms and other animal enterprises. The act has seldom been used even when terrorists have been apprehended because the penalties provided do not warrant the effort to pursue cases under the statute.
Since 1992, extremists have released thousands of mink from fur farms; mailed packages booby-trapped with razor blades to dozens of scientists and fur farmers; harassed and threatened researchers and fur farmers; vandalized restaurants, fur retailers, chicken farms, and government agencies; stolen animals from farms and laboratories. The most recent major target of their wrath is Hungtingdon Life Sciences Inc., a research firm that uses animals in drug testing. Huntingdon, a British company with facilities in England and New Jersey, lost most of its financial backing after activists threatened bank officials and customers, occupied bank lobbies, and conducted internet “sit-ins” that blocked websites and e-mails of banks and brokerages that invested in the firm. Huntingdon’s British director was beaten by masked thugs, thieves stole 14 Beagles from the company’s American laboratory, and the group known as Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty has planned actions against the company, its American supporters, and individual stock holders.
Other recent terrorist attacks
Other recent terrorist attacks that inflicted extensive damage include:
April 15, 2001: Portland, Oregon: ELF claimed credit for burning two concrete trucks in protest of the company’s mining operations. Damage was estimated at $210,000.
March 30, 2001: Eugene, Oregon: The North American Earth Liberation Front press office released a communiqué claiming credit for arson that caused $1 million in damage to a car dealership. “We can no longer allow the rich to parade around in their armored existence, leaving a wasteland behind in their tracks,” the statement said.
March 17, 2001: California: ALF claimed credit for stealing 468 chickens from Sunny-Cal Egg Farm in a repeat of a June 2000 raid that removed 600 chickens. Farm officials denied they were missing the 468 birds.
February 2001: Long Island, New York: Four teenagers with links to ELF and ALF face up to 20 years in jail, $500,000 in fines, and $358,000 in restitution for burning trucks and nine homes under construction and with plotting to burn a duck farm and a McDonald’s.
January 2, 2001: Oregon: An ELF arson attack against the Superior Lumber Company administrative offices in Glendale caused $400,000 damage. This is the third holiday arson against an Oregon timber business in as many years.
January 10, 2000: ALF was credited with a raid on the R&R Research and Rabbitry facility in Stanwood, Washington, which took 23 rabbits.
January 3, 2000: ALF planted five incendiary devices in offices, storage facilities and trucks at Rancho Veal Corporation in Petaluma, California, causing $250,000 in damages.
August 9, 1999: ALF claimed responsibility for arson that destroyed the United Feeds’ mill in Plymouth, Wisconsin. Damage was $1.5 million.
April 5, 1999: ALF vandalized a dozen laboratories at the University of Minnesota and stole dozens of research animals and took or damaged research into Alzheimer’s disease and cancer. Damages were estimated at $1million.
June, 1998: Arson at US Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services facility near Olympia, Washington, destroyed $1.5 million research projects and caused $400,000 damage to facility.
March 11, 1997: Five pipe bombs caused $1 million in damage at the Fur Breeders Agricultural Coop in Utah. Federal authorities arrested and convicted Josh Ellerman, a 19-year-old follower of ALF and the Straight Edge movement, which is another offshoot of the animal rights movement.
July 21, 1997: ALF claimed responsibility for arson at the Cavel West Horse Slaughter Plant in Redmond, Oregon, that caused $1 million in damage. Firefighters used the entire water supply of Redmond fighting the fire and residents had to give up using city water.
NAIA’s Request for Action
The NAIA Request for Action was developed by participants in the October 1998 Full Circle Summit in Portland, Oregon. Noting that research has been demolished, animals set loose, families threatened, and livelihoods destroyed by criminals who oppose the use of animals for any purpose, the hunters, trappers, biomedical researchers, dog and cat breeders, livestock farmers, and entertainers who met at the Full Circle Summit reaffirmed their common bonds and their determination to bring the experts in animal husbandry back to leadership in animal issues. The resulting Request for Action asked the US Senate to hold committee hearings on animal rights terrorism; order an audit and initiate legislation that would amend the Animal Enterprise Protection Act; commission a multi-agency task force to investigate acts of animal rights terrorism; and require the Internal Revenue Service to examine the nonprofit status of animal rights organizations that support and publicize the use of terrorism.
Representative Cunningham’s national anti-terrorism bill is the first step in this direction.
About The Author
All Authors Of This Article: | Norma Bennett Woolf |