This week, two individuals arrested by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force were charged with “conspiracy to violate the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act” after allegedly freeing thousands of animals from fur farms. Effectively labeled as “terrorists,” Joseph Buddenburg, 31, and Nicole Kissane, 28 could face up to 10 years in prison.
The two activists allegedly took part in what is being called a “spree” of freeing mink (and even a bobcat) from fur farms in Idaho, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, as well as causing property damage to a retail fur shop in San Diego, among other locations. U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California Laura Duffy said “The conduct alleged here, sneaking around at night, stealing property and vandalizing homes and businesses with acid, glue, and chemicals, is a form of domestic terrorism and can’t be permitted to continue.”
The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act classifies criminal acts, which otherwise could be considered petty, as acts of terrorism if they negatively affect animal enterprises. Animal rights enthusiasts argue this is a way of targeting protestors and activists whose main objective is to free animals from cruel and barbaric fates and is imbalanced in the way similar, non-animal-enterprise related crimes are treated. These recent charges beg the questions: How far is too far when fighting for the rights of others and how much should each side be able to get away with?