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Animals In Print
The On-Line Newsletter

From 10 March 2009 Issue

Animal/eco activists labeled "number one terrorist threat" in US

BY Conor Shine
PUBLISHED: 02/13/2009

"I want to talk to you all tonight about what is being called the green scare," Will Potter, an independent journalist, told the gathered crowd on the University of Minnesota's West Bank Thursday night.

Potter spoke to a crowd of about 60 at "The Green Scare: Using Terrorism Laws to Silence Political Activists," an event hosted by the Animal Rights Coalition at the Hubert H. Humphrey Center.

In his speech, Potter argued that environmental and animal rights activists have been unfairly singled out because of their ideologies and labeled as the number one domestic terrorist threat by the United States government.

"It's not just that these activists are vandalizing property or using non-violent civil disobedience," Potter said. "I think now a lot of these corporations and the politicians that they're working with are targeting activists because of their viewpoints."

Potter, who has been covering the green scare for the past few years writing stories and columns for various news organizations, drew parallels between the green scare and the Red Scare of the 20th century.

During the Red Scare, Potter said that the politicians feared the communist belief system more than they feared actual communists; something that he thinks is playing out again during the green scare.

"I think it's a war of values," Potter said. "They're being targeted because their belief system is viewed as so diametrically opposed to the belief system pushed by corporations and the politicians that they're tied to."

Potter's work has won national awards from groups like the Society of Professional Journalists and his writing on legislation relating to the green scare was named one of the "top stories that didn't make the news" by Project Censored in 2007.

Potter claims the government is recklessly labeling activists as terrorists in an attempt to squash these movements and scare people off from expressing their views.

"There really is no more powerful word in our language right now," he said. "It just hits people so deeply and so powerfully that I think the instant you start using it, it automatically skews public opinion and it automatically prejudices people against whoever is being labeled a terrorist."

The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act is a 2006 federal bill targeted at activists who use "force, violence and threats involving animal enterprise." The bill also extends to activists conspiring to commit acts against animal enterprise and lays out punishments for these acts ranging from fines to life in prison.

Dallas Rising, program director for the Animal Rights Coalition, or ARC, said that the green scare is an important issue to the ARC, especially because they were looked into as a possible terrorist organization over the summer by the Ramsey County Sheriff's Office, but that it has been difficult to get mainstream media attention for the issue.

"We're certainly not terrorists," Rising said. "We're doing everything legally and by the book."

The ARC deals with animal advocacy issues, Rising said, and also works to shed public light on the inhumane treatment of animals.

Rising said that because the government cannot track down the activists who are causing real harm and property damage, they go after the most vocal activists instead.

"I have friends in prison who are serving time as terrorists," Rising said. "They really didn't do anything wrong. Essentially the government is trying to hold them responsible for other people's action."

_Editors Note: It seems Terrorists is the latest "BUZZ" word. It is used freely now to disingenuate people and their works and hopefully to scaring them from continuing to expose and protest the abuse of animals. 

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