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Animal Rights Activists Face Multiple Felony Charges, Brought by Prosecutors With Ties to Smithfield Foods

How is it possible to criminalize activism that, as its only goal and only outcome , reports on, reveals, and documents the secret, abusive practices of powerful corporations?

GLENN GREENWALD: ‘Six animal rights activists in California have been charged with multiple felony counts in two separate criminal cases brought by Utah prosecutors last month. If convicted, they could face many years in prison. These charges raise serious questions about whether prosecutors are attempting to unconstitutionally punish the activists for filming, documenting, and exposing abuses by the agricultural industry that dominates the state, and particularly whether the prosecutors have acted with improper motives because of their own extensive ties to that industry… After that Smithfield investigation, the New York Times published a large story heralding the activists’ use of virtual reality technology to powerfully document abusive conditions inside Smithfield’s factory farms…

In neither of the two cases did the activists take anything of commercial value. All five of the animals they rescued were virtually certain to die within days, if not hours — well before they could get to the slaughterhouse and be turned into commercially marketable food… So why are animal rights activists who took nothing of commercial value, and who injured nobody, facing multiple felony charges and many years in prison? How can that conduct possibly be defined under the law as constituting felony theft, rioting, and racketeering? And how is it possible to criminalize activism that — as its only goal and only outcome — reports on, reveals, and documents the secret, abusive practices of powerful corporations?

The answers to all of those question lie in the same grim reality that has corrupted so much of American democracy: Namely, lawmakers, the legislative process, and the justice system are controlled by the most powerful corporate actors, which abuse and exploit democratic and legal processes for their own interests. That includes abusing the power of the criminal law to punish those who criticize these industries, report on them, and dissent from their practices… Then there are the prosecutors themselves. Kevin Daniels, the county attorney in Utah’s Sanpete County who brought the first felony charges against the activists,… who works simultaneously as county attorney and a partner in private practice at this firm. That firm has represented Smithfield Foods in numerous cases’. SOURCE…

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