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BREAKING: AETA 4 Case Dismissed, But Re-Indictment Possible
by via Green is the New Red
Monday Jul 12th, 2010 3:32 PM

A U.S. District Court has thrown out the indictment of four animal rights activists who were charged with violating the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, because the government did not clearly explain what, exactly, the protesters did.


When Joseph Buddenberg, Maryam Khajavi, Nathan Pope and Adriana Stumpo were arrested in 2009, prosecutors said little other than that the group allegedly chalked slogans on the sidewalk, distributed fliers and attended protests. Later, when they were officially indicted, the government was still tight-lipped about how their non-violent, above-ground protests amounted to “terrorism.”

In response, the Center for Constitutional Rights and attorney Matthew Strugar led an effort to have the indictments dismissed. In short, they argued that the charges should be dropped because they seem to involve only protected First Amendment speech, but that in order to make that argument the defendants’ speech must be clearly identified.

Here’s an excerpt from Judge Ronald M. Whyte’s ruling:

In order for an indictment to fulfill its constitutional purposes, it must allege facts that sufficiently inform each defendant of what it is that he or she is alleged to have done that constitutes a crime. This is particularly important where the species of behavior in question spans a wide spectrum from criminal conduct to constitutionally protected political protest. While “true threats” enjoy no First Amendment protection, picketing and political protest are at the very core of what is protected by the First Amendment. Where the defendants’ conduct falls on this spectrum in this case will very likely ultimately be decided by a jury. Before this case proceeds to a jury, however, the defendants are entitled to a more specific indictment setting forth their conduct alleged to be criminal. [emphasis added]

As background, a fierce campaign has been being waged in California against animal research at the University of California system. There has been a wide range of both legal and illegal tactics. Illegal tactics have included the destruction of UC vans, and an incendiary device was left at the home of a UC researcher.

The FBI and local law enforcement haven’t been able to catch the people responsible, though. They’ve only cracked down on the above-ground activists, like the AETA 4, who protest and create fliers.

The previous version of the law was used to convict the SHAC 7 for running a controversial website that posted news of both legal and illegal actions. This case, the first use of the new Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, was clearly an attempt to use this sweeping legislation even more broadly against First Amendment activity. This ruling sternly rebukes the government’s attempt to take activists to trial for “terrorism” without even explaining what they have done.

To be clear, though, this case is not over. The government can still re-indict the defendants with an amended bill of particulars that clearly outlines their alleged actions.

This is a victory worth celebrating, and it should also be inspiration for renewed organizing. Corporations and the politicians who represent them have been pushing this “eco-terrorism” and “animal enterprise terrorism” legislation for years, and they will not sit quietly as the flagship case of their pet scare-mongering law is tossed aside. If prosecutors choose to re-indict, it should be at their own peril; the animal rights and environmental movements must be ready to respond even more loudly, more forcefully, that activism is not terrorism.

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Zachary RunningWolf
(zacharyrunningwolf [at] Monday Jul 12th, 2010 4:15 PM
Congratulations to the 4 warriors who endured this ridiculous witch hunt. Clearly as with the Native community trying to protect something sacred and the tables were turned with the terrorists (US government) calling warriors and protectors as criminals. Finally, we need people to make important stances to bring to light what is really going on as in this instance - Animal Torture and Killing of Tens of thousands of animals by your Educational Institutions. UC Berkeley with its upcoming opening of it's new vivisection on the west side of campus bring the total of 68,000 animals a year.
by -
Monday Jul 12th, 2010 5:40 PM
I think they were just angry about whoever set the stem cell researcher's house on fire with his children in it and also blew up the car of a neighbor of some people supposedly looking at lead poisoning.
by puppies
Monday Jul 12th, 2010 6:01 PM
what about a civil case against the government? what about a motion for sanctions? is there no recourse for meritless politically motivated malicious prosecution? well, we all know there's not, but i mean, you can at least try
people would always point out to him that the charges were completely non-specific and then the guy would argue that he KNEW they were firebombers and whatever horrible things, that the charges were SOOOO much more serious than chalking and free speech activities

welp, where are you guy?
by AETA4 Support
Tuesday Jul 13th, 2010 6:35 PM
The AETA4 will still appear in court on July 19.
by Auntie Imperial
Wednesday Jul 14th, 2010 10:21 AM
From my morning news posting today (linkage on site):

What do you mean "Anarchists DIDN'T Do It"? Four Santa Cruz California Animal Rights Activists (The AETA 4) have been cleared of charges they firebombed a UCSC researcher's porch and car. They were arrested simply because they had a previous altercation with the law after demonstrating at a researcher's home.

But in the wake of this decision, it's eminently notable that the state law passed on the basis of this almost certainly provocateur-committed act (the vote was scheduled just a few days after the act) extending special protections to animal researchers at UC facilities (ie. A permanent FBI liaison on UC campuses statewide and a prohibition on demonstrating, as they did, near researchers) remains as legislative proof that provocateurism gets the (lawmaking) goods.

The defense team expects charges will be re-filed...

See IndyMedia: BREAKING: AETA 4 Case Dismissed, But Re-Indictment Possible

More at the Santa Cruz Senile... I mean "Sentinel". Read the comments to gauge the depths of Redneck depravity in this so-called 'Progressive" community.

Razed By Wolves (Auntie's feral playmate):
by Slander
Wednesday Jul 14th, 2010 4:46 PM
It should be noted that the AETA4 defendants were never charged with any firebombing. To make this claim that they were "cleared" of something the government never even accused of, only hurts their case.
by AETA4 Support
Wednesday Jul 14th, 2010 7:51 PM
The July 19 court appearance has been canceled. We'll let you know as soon as we know more. Stay tuned.
by Auntie Imperial
Thursday Jul 15th, 2010 9:26 AM
It has been changed to: What do you mean "Anarchists DIDN'T Do It"? Four Santa Cruz California Animal Rights Activists (The AETA 4) have had an indictment potentially leading to trial over accusations they firebombed a UCSC researcher's porch and car dismissed without prejudice. Apparently they were arrested simply because they had a previous altercation with the law after demonstrating at a researcher's home.
by Again
Thursday Jul 15th, 2010 4:37 PM
Again, they were never accused by the government of any firebombing. To insist on that could only be the work of federal agent provocateurs.
by Auntie Imperial
Thursday Jul 15th, 2010 5:22 PM
Then tell me... How would YOU word it?

The accusations WRIT LARGE IN THE PUBLIC'S MIND is that they were responsible for the firebombing of a researchers house and car.

They sure weren't being indicted for the demonstration arrest.

As far as being ..worthy of a federal agent... or whatever the fuck you spewed, re-read the title.

BTW, slander requires intent moron. Something you couldn't prove, or get anyone besides yourself to believe, especially anyone that knows me, in a million years.

There's a reason for that.

They'd just laugh at you, and personally, I figure you're the cop. A disruptive, divisive element amongst allies, current and potential... IOW... Cop... provocateur... useful idiot.

by Auntie Imperial
Thursday Jul 15th, 2010 5:30 PM
If you have any other comments or complaints, feel free to register them in the comments on the page at or my site or both if you're truly as anal as you seem to be.

My discussion with you regarding wording and intent is done.
by screw loose.
Thursday Jul 15th, 2010 11:06 PM
please read previous comments very slowly to ascertain their meaning before "spewing" ms. AI
by Wilbert
Sunday Jul 18th, 2010 11:38 AM
The firebombing happened after the uhh "AETA 4" held their rowdy 'demonstration' in front of a researcher's house. I don't think anybody knows who did it, but the public at large sees the AETA 4 as responsible due to similar tactics/beliefs/timing. I think it is foolish to blame federal agents planting suggestions in indybay, when AI is expressing the general feel the population in Santa Cruz has towards these people whether it is true or not.