A statement from recently released AETA indictee Scott DeMuth, 12/09/09
For those late in the game, I was recently subpoenaed to a grand jury in Davenport, Iowa and was subsequently charged with conspiracy under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA). Grand juries are secret proceedings, and those subpoenaed do not have a right to an attorney or a judge during questioning by the prosecutor. Historically, this legal process has been used in abusive ways to investigate and intimidate social movements.
I believe I was targeted by this grand jury because of my involvement in doing prisoner support as a part of EWOK! (Earth Warriors are OK!). Further, as a part of my academic career, I have been involved in researching the animal rights and environmental movements and interviewing participants of those movements. The identity and contents of interviews are protected by confidentiality agreements, and I have an obligation to this confidentiality as outlined by the Institutional Review Board and American Sociological Association guidelines.
Because of the grand jury’s use in investigating social movements, I refused to cooperate and testify in the proceedings. Additionally, because grand jury proceedings are held in secret, there is no real way to verify if I had only given my name or if I had given away the identity and contents of each interview I have done. Therefore, if for no other reason, I believed that my participation would violate the trust and confidentiality of those who I have interviewed. I went to Davenport on November 17th, knowing that I could be jailed for contempt of court, and I was willing to deal with whatever legal consequences came with that decision.
As expected, I was jailed for contempt of court. However, two days later, I was unexpectedly charged with “conspiracy with unknown persons” under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA). As evidenced by the vagueness of the charge and its filing a day before the statute of limitations expired, I believe that this charge is being used punitively against me because of my non-cooperation with the grand jury. Additionally, it seems that this charge is a last-ditch effort by the prosecution eager to get a conviction in a failed investigation.
Before I continue, I would like to thank everyone, especially my family, my friends, and my communities for the tremendous amounts of love, support, and mail that I have received during my jailing at Muscatine. It is never easy to be in jail and separated from the ones you love, but you all made a tough choice and a tough situation a little easier. I hope that you keep Carrie Feldman in your thoughts, prayers, and actions as she continues to be jailed for her non-cooperation in the grand jury.
Following the bond hearings and my subsequent release, I would also like to thank Judges Shields, Walters, and Jarvey for coming to the same conclusions that we knew all along: that I am not a danger to my community; that these charges are not a challenge from which I will run; and that the best place for me is at home and not in jail. The fact that these judges ruled in favor of my release speaks multitudes to the so-called “evidence” that the prosecution brought forward.
Even a casual reading of the motions filed by Clifford Cronk shows that the arguments for my detention were not based off of any real evidence that places me at the University of Iowa raid, but instead, he demanded my detainment because of the political beliefs that I hold. In possibly one of the most blatant and frightening passages from the motions, Cronk alleges that I am a “domestic terrorist” because I have political beliefs and have engaged in First Amendment protected activities:
“Defendant’s writings, literature, and conduct suggest that he is an anarchist and associated with the ALF movement. Therefore, he is a
This labeling of political beliefs and political dissent as “terrorism” is not anything new in America. The same rhetoric has been used for over a century to suppress social movements, from the labor movements, to the civil rights movements, to the Black, Chicano and American Indian liberation movements. Its current usage against anarchists, environmentalists, and the animal rights activists is just the latest chapter.
Under the AETA (and its predecessor the AEPA), the ever-expanding definition of terrorism has included everything from the ALF to PETA, even going as far as charging people who chalk on sidewalks as “terrorists.” Regardless of the many laws that exist to charge illegal activities, laws such as the AETA are written specifically to charge political ideologies and those who support them.
But this expanding definition of terrorism does not just affect animal rights activists, to which my case should attest. The government makes broad and dangerous generalizations across the board, conflating ideologies from all sides of the political spectrum with terrorism (e.g. anti-abortion activists, gun-rights advocates, environmentalists, and anarchists). Not only does the government target political activity, but it also uses the guise of the “war on terror” to target entire communities based on religion, ethnicity, national origin, and immigrant status. We must ask ourselves, “Who will be next?”
It is not just animal rights activists and anarchists who have a stake in this case, in the abolition of the AETA, and in the overall “terrorizing” of political dissent, but everyone who lives within America, everyone who values our inalienable rights and liberties, and everyone who seeks a better way of living than the one we have been given.
As always: Repeal the AETA! Fight the Green Scare! Resist State Repression!