RE: Peter Young sentenced--Urges More Fur Farm Raids
- GO, PETER!!!
More details of Peter's court date will be posted later, but here is the AP article summarizing the day's events. Thanks to everyone who came
out or attended other support demos.- Peter Young Support Committee
Mink farm raider gets two-year term, urges more raidsTODD RICHMOND
MADISON, Wis. - An animal rights activist who freed thousands of mink from Midwestern fur farms and then dodged federal authorities for years was sentenced to two years in prison Tuesday after urging his supporters in the courtroom to raid more farms.
Peter Daniel Young, 28, of Mercer Island, Wash., became an idol to fellow activists during his seven years on the run from the FBI before he was arrested in March for trying to shoplift CDs from a Starbucks in San Jose, Calif.
Dozens of supporters demonstrated on the sidewalk outside the federal courthouse Tuesday, holding signs that read "Free Peter" and "Fur - No
Skin Off YOUR Back!"
They jammed U.S. District Judge Stephen Crocker's courtroom, sitting on each other's laps after the spectator benches filled. They applauded and cheered when U.S. marshals led Young into the room. Young nodded and smiled at them.
"I don't think he's wrong at all," said Anna Marie Loeffler, 22, of Madison. "I completely support what he did."
Young read a statement to the court, calling his mink farm raids an "act of conscience." He told fur farmers in the audience "it was an absolute
pleasure to raid your farms" and urged everyone in the courtroom to go out and attack more farms.
His fans erupted in applause until Crocker threatened to kick out the next person who clapped.
The judge called Young an arrogant vigilante and warned him against ever repeating his crimes.
"He clearly relishes his role as a martyr for his cause," Crocker said. "Just sit on your bully pulpit and tell other people what to do because the consequences for you will be dire (the next time)."
Young had pleaded guilty in September to two counts of animal enterprise terrorism in a deal with prosecutors.
The judge sentenced him to the two-year prison term and $254,840 in restitution to the mink farmers. He also sentenced him to one year of
supervised release and 360 hours of community service that must be spent helping humans, not other species, as Crocker put it.
Young and accomplice Justin Samuel were originally indicted in Madison in 1998 on four extortion charges and the two animal enterprise terrorism counts. Federal prosecutors said they broke onto mink farms in Wisconsin, South Dakota and Iowa in 1997, cut fences and freed the animals from their cages.
Investigators believe they were acting on behalf of the Animal Liberation Front, a radical group that aims to destroy animal industries it considers
inhumane, although Young's attorney, Chris Kelly, denies that.
Both Young and Samuel disappeared after the indictment came down.
Samuel was captured in Belgium in 1999. He later struck a deal with prosecutors and served two years in prison.
Authorities dropped the four extortion counts against Young in July after deciding a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2003 invalidated the legal theory behind them.
Kelly tried to persuade Crocker to reduce the two-year sentence. He said Young has accepted responsibility by pleading guilty.
Kelly went on to argue the attacks were an act of civil disobedience and giving Young the full two years could have a "chilling effect" on free
That left assistant U.S. attorney Bob Anderson flabbergasted. He called Young's acts an insult to true civil disobedience and likened him to a
petty thief and a terrorist.
"What he did is not noble," Anderson said. "He chose violence."
Crocker agreed. True civil activists don't skulk around at night and flee from the law as Young did, the judge said.
Kelly railed against Anderson labeling Young a terrorist, which Kelly defined as someone who uses violence to harm human beings.
"It's overblown rhetoric," Kelly said. "Mr. Young didn't use violence against any human being."
Crocker asked Kelly if he thought white people who burned black churches weren't terrorists. "This did not strike terror into the hearts of the
victims?" the judge said.
"I don't think 'terrorist' applies to someone who cuts a fence in the middle of the night," Kelly said.
Alex Ott, owner of a mink farm near Tomahawk, testified Young and Samuel freed more than 350 minks from his farm.
He said after the hearing he should be allowed to attack Young's home when Young gets out of prison "and see how he likes it."