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Five Years In Jail For Exposing Animal Abuses In Minnesota

Five Years In Jail For Exposing Animal Abuses In Minnesota

If a new Minnesota bill becomes law, anyone caught going undercover to film or record animal abuses at a factory farm could be sentenced to five years in jail.

Minnesota Joins Iowa And Florida In Criminalizing Animal Activists

As Care2′s Mac McDaniel wrote, both Iowa and Florida are also proposing similar laws.

In Iowa, Senate File 431 and House File 589 create new penalties for wide range of activities, including undercover investigations. They prohibit anyone from producing, possessing, or distributing a record of a “visual or audio experience occurring at [an] animal facility.”

In Florida, Senate Bill 1426 would make photographing a farm without the written consent of the owner a first-degree felony.

Legislation Cracks Down On Activists Who Have Exposed Animal Abuses

The legislation proposed in Minnesota attempts to crack down on activists who have exposed repeated animal welfare violations. Among its provisions, the bill targets anyone who documents an “image or sound” of animal suffering in a sweeping list of “animal facilities,” including factory farms, animal experimentation labs, and puppy mills.

Guilty Of “Eco-Terrorism” and “Animal Enterprise Terrorism”

According to Will Potter, author of Green Is the New Red: An Insider’s Account of a Social Movement Under Siege, Minnesota’s House File No. 1369 goes even further.

The bill, introduced by six Republicans, also includes a number of other provisions that have popped up in “eco-terrorism” bills and “animal enterprise terrorism” laws over the years. Similar legislation has also been introduced in Florida and Iowa to target undercover investigators.

The Minnesota bill includes a number of dangerous parts. Among the most important:

  1.  “Animal facility interference.” This provision targets those who, without the owner’s consent, “produce a record which reproduces an image or sound occurring at the animal facility.” Even worse, it targets those who “possess or distribute a record which produces an image or sound occurring at the animal facility.” In other words, these Republicans are not only targeting anyone who exposes abuses in these facilities, but anyone who distributes that information (presumably via DVD, or potentially YouTube videos). This is listed as a gross misdemeanor.
  2. “Animal facility tampering.” This provision targets those who take animals from these facilities. That, of course, is already a crime. But those provision also goes further, and includes “disrupting” the operations of such a facility. This kind of vague, overly broad language has also appeared in federal laws like the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act. People have a right to know what, exactly, is a crime; vague language like this has a chilling effect on lawful activism, and can be misused by an ambitious prosecutor. This is listed as a felony.
  3. “Animal facility fraud.” This provision specifically targets undercover investigators and whistleblowers. It targets those who obtain access to an animal facility by “false pretense” (such as a false name on a job application, in order to document abuses). This is listed as a gross misdemeanor.

Corporations Can Recover Damages For Any Revenue Lost

Not surprisingly, this bill includes provisions for civil recovery and equitable relief, so that corporations can force activists to compensate them for any revenue lost due to the exposure of their violence.

And the people behind it? Representative Rod Hamilton, for instance, is past president of the Minnesota Pork Producers, and a current member.

Isn’t this backwards? These people are trying to criminalize someon who is an eyewitness to a crime. Shouldn’t these people who have the extremely difficult task of documenting a crime be applauded, not hauled off to jail?

Take Action!

Click here to sign our petition asking the Minnesota House of Representatives not to allow this shameful bill to become law.

 

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Photo Credit: CALM Action via Creative Commons

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482 comments

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4:39PM PDT on Jun 28, 2011

Absolutely ridiculous

12:45AM PDT on May 22, 2011

This is bill is absolute madness !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

12:05PM PDT on May 9, 2011

Signée

12:03PM PDT on May 9, 2011

Signée

6:44PM PDT on May 6, 2011

Please consider stopping eating animal flesh...that is where all this starts make the "demand" for animals go down and the demand for fresh vegetables and fruit go up, its kinda hard to abuse plants..

5:58AM PDT on May 6, 2011

The persons signing this bill obviously are feathering their own nests.

1:20AM PDT on May 1, 2011

And almost 150 people here think it's totally fair to send animal abuse exposers to jail! Just wonder what those poll takers views are and why they even bother to be members of Care2?

4:36AM PDT on Apr 28, 2011

Signed, Thanks for sharing =)

5:01AM PDT on Apr 27, 2011

Ho visto un video su allevamenti bovini atroce n: gli animali erano trattati con una violenza estrema,colpiti con martelli,zappe e forconi..mi si sentita così male !!PER THE PETITION SITE: NON RICEVO PIU' NIENTE DA VOI,COME MAI ?? Qualcuno può aiutarmi ??? Grazie

3:58AM PDT on Apr 27, 2011

Exposing abusers in one way to prevent this kind of cruelty.

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