This morning in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, animal rights activist Tyler Lang was sentenced to three months time served, six months home imprisonment, six months community confinement, and one year of supervised release along with $200,000 restitution. This sentence is for freeing 2,000 mink from a fur farm and spray-painting “Liberation is Love” on the side of a barn with his codefendant Kevin Johnson. The fur farm closed down as a result of their action.
In 2014, Lang and Johnson were indicted under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act for the mink liberation in Morris, IL. During the summer of 2015, Lang and Johnson entered into non-cooperating plea agreements through which they plead guilty to violating the AETA. On February 29, 2016, Johnson was sentenced to three years.
The public has grown increasingly skeptical of charging people with “terrorism” for saving animals from living in barren wire cages on fur farms and being killed by methods that may include anal electrocution or having their necks snapped; during Johnson’s sentencing, even Assistant U.S. Attorney Bethany K. Biesenthal described his intentions as “noble,” and today she described Tyler’s beliefs as “a very noble cause.”
Skepticism surrounding the AETA stems from its origin. It was crafted by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a group of corporate power players who write pieces of model legislation that suit their interests, and then ALEC passes off the legislation to members of Congress. Many members of ALEC are part of the pharmaceutical, big ag, and other industries that exploit and kill animals for profit. ALEC devised the AETA, legislation not meant so much for prosecuting activists (Lang and Johnson are among only a handful of people who’ve been charged under the AETA), but to conjure public fear of the animal liberation movement and chill dissent.
Tyler and Kevin’s case should be a reminder to us all that we have to show each other love and support in the face of State repression. One of the best ways responses we can have is to take care of each other and continue to work for a day in which no animals are confined to cages and killed for profit.