October 2nd: Reclaim Animal Liberation, Storm the University of Washington

from Earth First! Newswire:

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The grassroots animal rights movement in the United States has been in a lull. The dominance of corporate NGOs, an increase in state-sponsored fear tactics, and an upswing in vegan consumerist feel-goodery have successfully turned what was once a powerful people’s movement into a small collection of groups scattered around the country. But things are changing.

Next month, hundreds of people will descend upon the University of Washington (UW) campus to protest the construction of a new underground animal testing laboratory. Since November 2014, activists across North America and around the world have targeted Skanska, the company responsible for constructing UW’s planned animal torture facility. If it’s allowed to be built, thousands more dogs, monkeys, mice, guinea pigs, rabbits, and other animals will be imprisoned, tortured, driven to insanity, and killed. Through office disruptions, home demonstrations, lobby invasions, and direct action, the No New Animal Lab campaign has mobilized grassroots animal activists in ways that haven’t been seen in years. Construction of the lab has started. The grassroots movement has reawakened. Energy is building. Now how are we going to do with it?

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Last April, in the first march against the lab, 500 people took over the streets of Seattle. This many grassroots activists haven’t convened in one place since 2001, when the Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty campaign pressured Little Rock-based investment company Stephens, Inc. to divest from infamous animal testing company Huntingdon Life Sciences. This was at a time of relentless fury and sacrifice—a time when activists vowed that any company involved in animal exploitation would be targeted and taken down. Hundreds flooded Little Rock, and when police pushed them, the protesters pushed back harder, taking over the downtown, smashing and shutting down businesses, in what was likely the largest animal rights riot in US history.

Every moment of their lives, animals in laboratories fight, scratch, bite and scream for liberation. It’s time for a mass people’s movement that fights with the same fury. It’s time for a mass people’s movement that is willing to seriously confront animal exploitation. We can’t look to politicians, lobbyists, or corporate non-profits. It has to be us. It will be us.

The University of Washington believed they could hide this lab from the public—building it underground and deciding to approve construction through illegal, secret meetings. But they have been exposed. The April 25 march took place before anyone had locked their body to construction equipment; before “No New Animal Lab” messages had appeared in chalk and spray paint from Washington to Texas to Germany; as Skanska’s excavators had just begun to break ground. Six months later, the hole is deeper, the fences higher, the security tighter, and the numbers of impassioned activists larger. Skanska has felt the pressure—locking the doors of their offices, hiding in their homes, no longer speaking to the media. They are clearly afraid; but of what?

Everything can change in one moment. The only thing that will stop UW and Skanska is you. On October 2, hundreds of people will converge at the University of Washington to stop the construction of the underground animal lab. Where will you be?

marchonuwposter

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Nicole and Joseph – are staying in Oakland for this one – San Diego court appearance has been waived!

From Support Nicole and Joseph:
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A motion was filed by their attorneys to have their September 9th, San Diego court appearance waived and today that motion was granted by the judge. Nicole and Josephs attorneys will be there in court, and not guilty pleas will be entered in their absence. They will not have to travel to San Diego and will be staying home in Oakland for this one.

Thank you to everyone from the bay area, LA area, and San Diego that were planning on coming to court next Wednesday to support Nicole and Joseph, and thank you to everyone in all corners of the world who have been donating to the support fund, buying items off the amazon.com wish list, and stepping up in any way you can.

Please continue to check out the support site for further updates on the case and to learn about ways to show your support.

BREAKING: 2 Animal Activists Facing 6 Months in Jail for Protesting on the Sidewalk

From Green Is the New Red:

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Two animal rights activists in Utah are facing six months in jail for holding peaceful protests against an amusement park’s treatment of animals without first paying $50 and completing a “Free Expression Permit Application.”

On Tuesday evening, activists Jeremy Beckham and Lexie Levitt were visited at their homes by Salt Lake City Police detectives with court orders from nearby Farmington City.

Beckham says that when he saw a Salt Lake City detective at his door, his heart started racing and his body tensed; he quickly started filming, because he is familiar with animal activists being prosecuted as “terrorists” for things like chalking on the sidewalk.

He didn’t know what was about to happen, but he thought it could be serious.

“I’ve been an activist a really long time,” says Beckham, who is a board member with the Utah Animal Rights Coalition. “And I’m honestly shocked” at the charges.

The detective attempted to ask Beckham about other protesters, so they too could be served court orders, but Beckham remained silent and continued filming. He then said “I don’t have anything further to say.”

Lexie Levitt, an organizer with the animal rights group Direct Action Everywhere, says that when police arrived at her home, they pounded on her doors and windows. She didn’t know what was happening, she said, and at first she was too afraid to answer. When police returned, she learned she was being charged with protesting without a permit as well.

The charges say that the activists “did conduct, promote, manage, aid, solicit attendance at or participate in any advanced planned free speech expression activity without first obtaining a permit for the event.” [View the criminal complaint]

They are class B misdemeanors, punishable by up to six months in jail.

The Blackfish Effect

lagoon-lion-cageThe activists had been protesting animal cruelty at Lagoon Amusement Park, where lions, pumas, elks, kangaroo, zebra, leopards, tigers, and other wild animals are kept in metal cages with concrete floors, without enrichment or stimulation.

Photos taken by the activists revealed animals in barren, filthy conditions as the “Wild Animal Kingdom” train ride passed by their cages.

And in 2013, an amusement park employee was gored by a wildebeest there.

Activists said that the award-winning film Blackfish, which exposed conditions that are dangerous to both animals and humans at Sea World, has resulted in a surge of public awareness about the dangers of animals in captivity.

white-bengal-tiger-lagoonAs Sea World’s profits have plummeted by 84%, they resorted to using spies to infiltrate protest groups like PETA.

Lagoon Amusement Park has done it’s best to keep protesters away as well. When activists gathered outside their corporate headquarters with signs, Lagoon turned on their sprinklers — in the midst of a drought.

“No one should have to fear that the police will pound on your door at 8 o’clock at night to hand you criminal charges in connection with a peaceful protest,” Beckham said. “It is astounding the lengths that Lagoon is willing to go in order to shut up the caring people who are speaking out against their abysmal ‘zoo.’”

Jumping Through All The Hoops

Beckham says what surprises him most about the criminal charges is that the activists had gone to great lengths to ensure they complied with the law.

At the July 18th protest at the amusement park, for which Levitt is being prosecuted, there were about 20 protesters. They all stood across the street, because they did not want to accidentally trespass. They even went down to the courthouse and got a plat map to ensure they would be on public property.

At the July 16th protest at Lagoon offices, for which Beckham is being prosecuted, there were only four people in attendance, and they chose the protest location specifically because it had a public sidewalk where they could stand. (One of the other attendees was Levitt, and the other two were afraid of being identified for this story because they might be prosecuted as well.)

They held signs that said “Stop imprisoning animals,” “Sanctuaries not cages,” and “Lagoon abuses animals.”

The activists occasionally chanted, but never used megaphones or amplified sound.

During their many protests this year, police have driven past and taken photos of protesters, but they have never asked them to leave or threatened them with prosecution.

It appears their abundance of caution might have actually been used by the police against the activists. Beckham and Levitt had both been in contact with the city, alerting them about their protests in advance, and they suspect that’s why they were singled out for criminal charges.

“Free Expression Claim”

Just a few months after the September 11th attacks, Farmington City leaders used public safety concerns to justify a “Free Expression Activities Ordinance.”

The ordinance requires protesters to obtain a “Free Expression Activities Permit,” pay a $50 fee, and obtain insurance before engage in constitutionally protected speech.

The form the city requires asks protesters to explain “reasons for your activity” and also their “free expression claim.”

At the time, the American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho said the proposal was full of “constitutional defects.” The city passed it anyway.

As the Deseret News noted, the ordinance was passed in advance of animal rights activists protesting the rodeo, in a clear attempt to stifle their speech.

Misguided Priorities

The prosecution—for purely First Amendment activity— was coordinated with multiple police departments in different cities, which is a rare occurrence for a class B misdemeanor.

A Salt Lake City Police Department detective visited the activists at their homes, multiple times, to serve them in person, when the paperwork could have been sent in the mail

And the investigation was led by the Farmington City Chief of Police himself. Chief Wayne Hansen, who was named Utah’s police chief of the year in 2014, authored the probable cause affidavit used in the prosecution, and noted it was based on his “personal observations” of the protesters.

“It’s sad that the Davis County Attorney and the police apparently care more about shielding Lagoon from criticism than they do the First Amendment,” Levitt said.

The police treatment of animal rights activists is radically different than the treatment of animal abusers. Recently, Utah animal rights activists made international news when they disrupted a “pig wrestling” competition, and some of the confederate-flag-waiving wrestlers attacked them and slammed them to the ground.

Those individuals are not being prosecuted.

As for Beckham and Levitt, they had another protest planned at Lagoon this Saturday. After speaking with their attorneys, they’ve decided to cancel that demonstration rather than risk additional criminal charges.

Wishlist for Joseph Buddenberg!

From Support Nicole and Joseph:

joseph-2-e1437952437645Currently, Joseph Buddenberg is on house arrest and can only leave the apartment for very specific engagements, never to stray from the path taken to get there. Fortunately there is a supportive network that exists in the Bay area to pick up certain items he may need from week to week. Here is one more way we can support Joseph while he is going through this tough time. All you have to do is follow the link to his Amazon.com wish list that was set up, and find something that you might like to order for Joseph, or pass it along to a friend.

Thank you, and stay tuned for more updates on Nicole and Josephs case and ways you can plug in to support them.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/registry/wishlist/1HGPMNHJ7KB6B/

Court Support for Joseph!

From supportnicoleandjoseph.com:

Joseph Buddenberg, who was arrested along with Nicole Kissane at their apartment on July 24th by the FBI and then formerly charged with ” conspiracy to violate the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act,” has court on Wednesday, August 12th. His lawyer will be arguing to get Joseph off house arrest. Let’s show the court how much support Joseph Buddenberg has , and let’s be there to show Joseph that he is definitely not alone while going through this.

Please make it if you can!

When: Wednesday, August 12th, 9:30am
Where: Oakland Federal Courthouse
1301 Clay Street
Floor 3, Court room 3
Judge Ryu

If attending, please wear court-appropriate attire and behave respectfully. Please also be aware that you may have to show ID and be subject to search to enter the courthouse. Arrive early as the courthouse may be busy.

Also please continue donating to the Nicole and Joseph defense fund –
http://supportnicoleandjoseph.com/2015/07/27/donate-to-the-defense-fund/

-Nicole and Joseph Support Team

Support Muhammad and Emad

From FireWorks:

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Emad and Muhammad are two local youths facing trumped up felony charges in the SF Bay Area. Muhammad, sixteen years old, was arrested with his brother Emad in October of last year at a Muslim religious festival. They as well as their families were subject to prejudicial harassment and treatment by police, who along with the DA saw to it both young men would face felony Strike charges in spite of having no prior criminal history, and no credible evidence whatsoever against them.

Donate here.

In spite of all this, the DA is insisting on pressing ahead in hopes of draining their financial and emotional resources until they plead out to fictional crimes under the pressure.

Muhammad, now seventeen, is currently preparing to go to trial. He is in college, works full-time to help support a family of eight, and has paid for his own defense out of pocket from his own work since the time of his arrest. He spent over a week in juvenile hall and six months on house arrest with an ankle monitor, already for this baseless charge, which is the first he has ever faced in his life. The court further expects him to pay thousands for the ankle monitor they forced him to wear.

Now he will be facing a brand new round of lawyers’ fees. Both Emad and Muhammad are well-respected members of the local Sunni Muslim community going back two generations, and full-time community college students deeply involved in grassroots organizing and local activist causes.

Muhammad has already paid $10,000 for his lawyer, while others are asking for $20-25,000 to represent Emad. So far, they’ve raised $5,000 or $6,000 in donations.

Please donate generously to keep these young men free. All donations will go directly to the legal expenses of their case.

Court Support for Tyler’s Change of Plea Hearing

supportkevinandtyler.com:

tyler-riverOn July 22, Tyler Lang has a change of plea hearing scheduled in regard to his charges under the AETA for allegedly releasing animals from a fur farm. If you can be in Chicago, please attend the hearing to show love and support for Tyler.

What: USA v. Lang, Change of Plea Hearing
When: Wednesday, July 22, 9:15am
Where: Courtroom 1241, Judge Amy St. Eve
U.S. District Court, Northern District of IL
Everett McKinley Dirksen U.S. Courthouse
219 South Dearborn Street
Chicago, IL 60604

To attend, please wear court-appropriate attire and behave respectfully. Please also be aware that you will likely have to show ID and be subject to search to enter the courthouse. Arrive early as the courthouse may be busy.