Tyler Lang and Kevin Olliff were charged with two counts of violating the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act and committing “animal enterprise terrorism.”
Olliff is currently in jail in Illinois, where he was sentenced to 30 months in jail for having boltcutters in his Prius.
Lang was arrested outside of a Veggie Grill restaurant in Los Angeles on Thursday. He had arrived to prepare for a fundraiser at the restaurant to benefit the Bunny Alliance, an animal rights group with which he volunteers.
When he saw FBI agents walking up to the restaurant, he said he knew something was wrong. He was on the phone with a friend, who joked that they were there to spy on the animal rights fundraiser. Before he was arrested, he told his friend “call my lawyer.”
At Lang’s bail hearing at a Los Angeles federal courthouse, the government asked for a $30,000 bond, which is $20,000 above what pre-trial services had recommended.
The prosecutor did not request that Lang be jailed awaiting trial, but said Lang was a flight risk because of his “extreme activism.”
“He has plans to travel the country for what he calls non-profit work,” the prosecutor said, “but what the government calls violent civil disobedience.”
Lang told me he had planned on beginning a tour this weekend with other volunteers, protesting airlines that transport primate for animal experimentation.
Lang may not be able to attend the protests, but other volunteers say they are undeterred.
“We know that Tyler would want us to carry on with the Fight or Flight tour,” said Amanda Schemkes, a Bunny Alliance volunteer. “It’s to further the campaign against the transport of animals to labs, as well as to build and empower grassroots activism in the face of state repression. Our work to help animals continues to be motivated by them rather than stifled by attempts to chill activism.”
The indictments come as hundreds of animal rights activists are in Los Angeles this weekend for the National Animal Rights Conference, where a prominent theme is corporate efforts to label non-violent protest activity as “terrorism.”
Releasing animals from fur farms is clearly against the law, but in the history of underground groups like the Animal Liberation Front not a single human being has been harmed; yet the FBI continues to label animal rights activism as “terrorism.”
New ag-gag laws go even further, criminalizating whistleblowers, undercover investigators and journalists who expose animal cruelty on factory farms.
As FBI agents and prosecutors prepared for Lang’s bail hearing, it was clear that even they were a bit confused about this “terrorism” case.
Outside of the courtroom, one FBI agent was overheard on a cell phone saying: “No, he is being charged with damaging property. Not damaging animals—they are against that.”