On February 23rd, Peter Young, an animal liberation activist and former Green Scare prisoner, spoke at the Louden Nelson Center in Santa Cruz before a screening of “Behind the Mask” at a benefit for the SHAC 7.
Peter grew up in Los Gatos and moved to the state of Washington at the age of nine. He went to college at the University of Washington where he became involved in animal rights activism. In 1997, Peter and a friend liberated over 8,000 mink and foxes from various fur farms in a two-week road trip across three midwestern states. In 1998, indictments were handed down for his arrest and accomplice Justin Samuel. After nearly 7 years on the run, Peter was captured in San Jose in 2005 and served almost two years in prison until his release in early 2007.
In early 2008, Peter got off probation and moved back to Santa Cruz where he had been living underground before being captured.
The following is Peter Young’s statement to the court at his sentencing on November 8th, 2005. As Peter did a large amount of improvisation, the below text is not a verbatim record, but an approximate account based on his notes and the memory of supporters in the courtroom.
Peter Young’s Statement to the Court on November 8th, 2005
This is the customary time when the defendant expresses regret for the crimes they committed, so let me do that because I am not without my regrets. I am here today to be sentenced for my participation in releasing mink from 6 fur farms. I regret it was only 6. I’m also here today to be sentenced for my participation in the freeing of 8,000 mink from those farms. I regret it was only 8,000. It is my understanding of those 6 farms, only 2 of them have since shut down. I regret it was only 2.
More than anything, I regret my restraint, because whatever damage we did to those businesses, if those farms were left standing, and if one animal was left behind, then it wasn’t enough.
I don’t wish to validate this proceeding by begging for mercy or appealing to the conscience of the court, because I know if this system had a conscience I would not be here, and in my place would be all the butchers, vivisectors, and fur farmers of the world.
Just as I will remain unbowed before this court- who would see me imprisoned for an act of conscience- I will also deny the fur farmers in the room the pleasure of seeing me bow down before them. To those people here whose sheds I may have visited in 1997, let me tell you directly for the first time, it was a please to raid your farms, and to free those animals you held captive. It is to those animals I answer to, not you or this court. I will forever mark those nights on your property as the most rewarding experience of my life.
And to those farmers or other savages who may read my words in the future and smile at my fate, just remember: We have put more of you in bankruptcy than you have put liberators in prison. Don’t forget that.
Let me thank everyone in the courtroom who came to support me today. It is my last wish before prison that each of you drive to a nearby fur farm tonight, tear down its fence and open every cage.
For more information on the Green Scare, Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, and how to defend what’s left of your civil liberties, please check out the following links:
- Know Your Rights Resources by way of the Civil Liberties Defense Center
- Audio Interview with Will Potter of “Green is the New Red” on the Progressive Radio Network with Lee Stringer
- Analysis of Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act by Will Potter
- Green Is The New Red.com — “The War on Terrorism has come home. Corporations and politicians are labeling activists “eco-terrorists” and national security threats. Think red-baiting, with a green twist. Here you’ll find original reporting and analysis of the Green Scare, and history repeating itself.”
Crossposted at Indybay.org.