Animal Rights Activists Claims Parole Conditions Are Unconstitutional

Megan Lewis, one of the founders of the Texas Establishment for Animal Rights, is trying to have one of her parole conditions thrown out on the grounds that it unconstitutionally inhibits her right to free speech.

Lewis was arrested on November 27, 1998 and charged with a misdemeanor for blocking a passageway while taking part in a protest at a Nieman Marcus store. Lewis was convicted and sentenced to serve 10 days in jail and a 24-month probation.

As part of the conditions of her probation, Judge Ralph Taite ordered that Lewis may not participate in any animal rights protest for the duration of her probationary period. Lewis had been sentenced the year before to 1 day in jail after another arrest at an animal rights protest.

Lewis appealed her conviction to the 5th District Court of Appeals which upheld the judge-imposed restriction on her protesting activities, ruling that judges have wide discretion to impose reasonable rules to protect a community and attempt to rehabilitate an offender.


Gag order. Mark Hughes, The Dallas Observer Online, August 23, 2001.

Rally will be held today for anti-fur activist who will be jailed. Rick Lannoye, Dallas Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, Press Release, August 9, 2001.

Anti-Fur Activist Sues Firefighter

This one had me laughing out loud. In April 2000, anti-fur protester Andrea Lindsay chained herself to a Nieman Marcus billboard that was atop a 10-story building in San Francisco. Now she’s suing the firefighter who removed her from that billboard, charging he assaulted her. She’s also suing police claiming their efforts to coax her down from the billboard “inflicted emotional distress.”

Most of Lindsay’s injuries were a direct result of her method of affixing herself to the billboard — she put a bicycle lock around her neck and attached it to part of the billboard. Then she dropped the key. Firefighters retrieved the key and unlocked Lindsay, but she claims she suffered injuries to her neck and back, as well as tearing in her ear lobes (she did all this wearing earrings).

Part of the lawsuit actually contends that she was placed at risk when, “Plaintiff then noted blood coming from her head which was not only painful but particularly distressful due to the large amount of rust and bird droppings on the billboard.” Yeah, its hard to imagine a billboard having rust and bird droppings. Aren’t those the sort of things you’re supposed to consider before chaining yourself to a billboard?

As for the emotional distress she suffered, Lindsey didn’t particularly like the no-nonsense manner in which police treated her. The lawsuit complains that police at various times told her, “Get the f– down” and “I don’t care how long you a– stay up there. For every minute you are up there, I’ll add another charge.” Apparently she was hoping for a written invitation.

San Francisco City Attorney Nathan Ballard put it better than I can in response to the lawsuit,

She admits that she chained herself to a billboard 50 feet in the air and now she wants us to feel ‘concerned for her safety’ when the Fire Department comes to rescue her. We’ll have to see what a jury thinks about that.

Maybe the firefighters who had to forcibly remove her from atop a 10 story building should counter sue Lindsay for recklessly putting their lives in danger with this little stunt.


Activist sues firefighter rescuer: Alleges assault during removal from billboard. Peter Hartlaub, San Francisco Chronicle, June 13, 2001.

Charges Against CAFT Activist Dropped

An animal rights activist who allegedly bumped and threatened Ted Nugent had all charges dropped due to insufficient evidence. Nugent claimed the activist bumped him outside of a Neiman Marcus before proceeding to threaten the rock star’s life. Unfortunately for Nugent, surveillance video from the store satisfied prosecutors that there was no physical contact between Nugent and the activist. Without the battery charge, prosecutors clearly thought any attempt to go after the activist on a veiled verbal threat would be very unlikely to succeed.

Now that this episode is apparently over, I just want to offer a brief commentary on Nugent himself. I was disappointed to see people on e-mail lists, web sites and elsewhere embracing Nugent as an important person in the fight against animal rights. This is a recipe for disaster.

To put it bluntly, Nugent is a nut case. Animal rights activists were already online distributing a long list of wonderful racist and sexist quotes Nugent has made over the years, and Nugent just cannot help but open his mouth and say something stupid. Just recently he had to pull out of a Kiss concert scheduled in Houston because while performing in Houston and San Antonio earlier in the year he went on rants about how people who come to America but don’t speak English should go back to the countries they came from. Lovely.

I would hope that if someone like John Rocker came out denouncing animal rights, that there would not be any stampede by anti-animal rights groups to embrace him, and Nugent is certainly cut from the same cloth as Rocker.

More Lawsuit Fodder: CAFT activist allegedly threatens Ted Nugent

    You’d think they’d learn. The Coalition to Abolish the Fur Trade is already being sued by Jacques Ferber Furs under the civil provisions of RICO — essentially the fur store claims that CAFT is engaged in a conspiracy of illegal intimidation and harassment in order to drive legitimate enterprises out of business. CAFT, of course, denies the charge but since the lawsuit was filed there have been a number of incidents where people associated with CAFT have been arrested while attempting to or for allegedly planning to engage in illegal activities.

    In the latest incident, CAFT member Bhaskar Sinha was arrested in front of the Neiman Marcus store in San Francisco’s Union Square after allegedly confronting musician Ted Nugent and threatening to kill him. She is currently being held on a $20,000 bond charged with one charge of battery and attempt to terrorize.

    Nugent was in San Francisco to perform with Kiss Sunday night and went to Neiman Marcus to shop. After leaving the store, Nugent told police that he got into an argument with CAFT activists who were handing out leaflets denouncing the fur trade. Nugent told police that Shina threatened to kill him.

    The CAFT activists, meanwhile, claim Nugent spit on them and threatened them. A judge will get to start sorting the mess out today as Shina appears makes a court appearance. If Nugent’s claims hold up in court, this will be one more piece of evidence that will be used to drive the nail in the coffin of CAFT at its RICO trial.


Fur-for-All as Outspoken Rock Star Confronts S.F. Protesters. Mark Martin, Pervaiz Shallwani, San Francisco Chronicle, July 31, 2000.

No Kooks at Animal Rights 2000

The Washington Post ran a story the other day about the Animal Rights 2000 National Conference taking place in Washington, DC. The conference brings together most of the national animal rights groups and up to 700 activists from around the world to attend 140 workshops on getting out the animal rights message.

One of the concerns of activists, apparently, is the way they’re portrayed in the media. The Post quoted Paul Shapiro of Compassion Over Killing complaining that:

The media is owned by many of the same interests that exploit and abuse animals. It’s hard when Neiman Marcus is a major sponsor of The Washington Post to get The Washington Post to cover our Neiman Marcus protests.

That’s a strange complaint since even small animal rights protests tend to receive rather extensive coverage in traditional news outlets. Perhaps more importantly, though, Shapiro lamented that once the media does show up the activists end up looking like a bunch of kooks in the accompanying coverage.

“It’s essential that we don’t make it easy for them [the media] to make it easy for them to make us look stupid,” Shapiro said. “We don’t need to make it seem like we’re just these kooky fanatics.”

Of course, The Post reports that Shapiro was immediately challenged by a woman with blue streaked hair complaining that the attempt to make animal rights activists seem less kooky is part of that whole patriarchal exploitative paradigm — “I think that we should consider that the disdain for people who don’t look like you comes from the same place as the disdain for animals . . . and the disdain for people of color . . . and the disdain for women.”

The Post records that Shapiro replied, “Well, I don’t touch on that issue at all, anyway, so it certainly wasn’t what I was implying.” Huh? I guess that’s Shapiro’s way of calling her a kook.

The bigger question, however, is where would the media possibly get the idea that animal rights activists are just a bunch of kooky fanatics? Consider, for example, anti-dairy activist Robert Cohen who at a workshop on “Getting Attention (Legally)” outlined a completely rational plan to protest Thanksgiving. He’s planning on building a 17-foot-high turkey and wheeling it to the White House sidewalk this Thanksgiving Day. Then,

We’re going to cut its throat. We want people to see what happens when Karo’s corn syrup with red food coloring comes oozing out of the turkey’s neck. We want this on national television.

No kookiness there.

Cohen also proposes arming activists with loud whistles to blow in the faces of scientists at laboratories, shoppers at super markets that sell meat, or women wearing inappropriate clothing.

Imagine 10 or a hundred or a thousand whistles outside the White House. We’re gonna break windows. Imagine a woman walking down the street with a fur coat. Anyone ever see ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’?

Now that he mentions it, the animal rights movement does come across as a bad B movie on some days.

Shapiro probably hated the latest paragraph of The Post story which described several AR 2000 attendees watching a Farm Sanctuary video of a truck filled with pigs headed to a slaughterhouse (apparently ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’ was already rented). Watching the videotape, activist Jamie Cohen of Baltimore, MD, told the Post reporter, “I’m a Jew, and I grew up learning about the Holocaust. I mean this is a concentration camp — these pigs are going to Auschwitz, they’re going to get slaughtered.”

Shapiro is right, of course, that the media does make animal rights activists look like kooks, but the problem is that so many animal rights activists are kooks. Seriously comparing the slaughter of pigs with Auschwitz is the very embodiment of kookiness.


Meet-and-Potatoes. Ian Shapiro, The Washington Post, July 3, 2000.

HSUS complains about threats from cockfighting supporters

    In a recent release the Humane
Society of the United States complained about some of the tactics taken
by cockfighting supporters in Oklahoma. The Oklahoma Coalition Against
Cockfighting is trying to restore Oklahoma’s ban on cockfighting.

    The HSUS release describes
a variety of illegal and unethical actions taken by pro-cockfighting forces

  • death threats made against OAC leaders including calls placed to the
    workplaces of OAC members in an effort to get them fired

  • illegal phone “blockades” — HSUS alleges that at least one and perhaps
    more pro-cockfighting individuals made 200 or 300 calls a day to the
    OAC office in an obvious attempt to deny OAC the use of its phone lines
    and/or run up its expenses

  • disruption of OAC meetings

    Along with these obviously
wrong actions, the HSUS release complained that pro-cockfighting forces
decided to make their views known at venues where the anti-cockfighting
groups were trying to collect signatures to get their measure on the ballot.
HSUS quotes from a pro-cockfighting newsletter that read in part:

… to execute the plan. . . HSUS will be at Arts & Crafts events,
etc. in Tulsa and Oklahoma City and we need to have our people there to
work against the gathering of signatures.

    HSUS calls this a “plan to
interfere with our democratic rights” but it reads more like a group exercising
its free speech rights to counter HSUS’ plan. This seems to be the sort
of normal behavior everyone has to tolerate in a democracy. As long as
the cockfighting supporters didn’t physically interfere with HSUS’ collection
of signatures but only exercised their right to freely speak and assemble,
its hard to understand what HSUS finds so objectionable here (unless the
group is so inarticulate it can’t even make a decent argument against

HSUS goes on to complain that:

It became routine that we would be met by people demanding to
see our voter registration card, drivers license, and permit to be wherever
we were. Sometimes circulators would be surrounded and cut off from the
public. More frequently, circulators would face cockfighters who yelled
at potential signers and told them that the petition would ban hunting
and fishing and other animal-related activities.

Again, though, nothing here seems to violate anyone’s rights.

    HSUS also maintains that pro-cockfighting
forces intentionally filed frivolous lawsuits to dissuade the anti-cockfighting
forces, though the courts will have to decide whether that is indeed the

    Cockfighting is completely
incompatible with the animal welfare view as far as I’m concerned and
I won’t lose any sleep if and when Oklahoma restores its ban on cockfighting.
The fascinating thing about the harassment HSUS and others are facing,
however, is that the animal rights community itself provided the model
over the last decade for precisely what the pro-cockfighting forces are

    Death threats? We’ve seen the
Justice Department and the Animal Rights Militia do that on numerous occasions
with nary a peep from most of the established animal rights organizations.

    Illegal phone blockades? In
a typical month five or six e-mail messages go across the various animal
rights mailing lists setting up times and giving phone numbers for animal
rights activists to call and attempt to jam up the phone system of the
target of the month, whether that be Macy’s or Nieman Marcus or McDonald’s.

    Demands to obtain personal
information for seemingly legitimate purposes only to use that information
for harassment? Animal rights activists have been trying for years to
get the government to release sensitive details about medical researchers.
Animal Liberation Front supporters have used publicly available documents
to create terrorist guides of fur farms in North America.

    A recent Atlanta Journal-Constitution
profile of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals was eye opening
in the insight it gives on those who advocate violence. As this newsletter
has mentioned before, PETA’s Bruce Friedrich is a wholehearted supporter
of “direct action” and PETA’s Ingrid Newkirk recently responded to the
Justice Department’s mailing of razor blades to researchers by writing,
“Perhaps the mere idea of receiving a nasty missive will allow animal
researchers to empathize with their victims for the first time.”

    So what has PETA reaped from
this record? Apparently a well-founded fear that others not so friendly
to the animal rights movement may choose to carry out a little “direct
action” of their own. According to the Journal-Constitution’s description,
PETA’s new headquarters is a veritable fortress:

The cameras weren’t put up to catch meat-sneakers, but to protect
PETAns, who must punch in a code to enter or exit the building, from their
many foes.

That is, protect PETA from doing exactly what it openly admires and advocates
that animal rights activists do to research labs and farms.

    One of the big differences
between the animal rights movement and the animal welfare movement is
that a reporter would have a lot of difficulty finding a spokesperson
in a mainstream animal welfare group who would defend those who might
vandalize PETA’s office. One only has to get Newkirk or Friedrich on the
phone to talk with people comfortable defending acts of violence.


Oklahoma Cockfighters
Try a Campaign of Terror
, Humane Society of the United States press
release, December 3, 1999

“Meet The Meat-Haters: Virginia-Based Peta Will Do Almost Anything To
Get Its Animal Rights Message Out” by Bill Hendrick, Atlanta Journal-Constitution,
December 12, 1999.