“The ALF does not meet the legal requirements to be considered a gang. Their primary goal is to save animals, not commit crimes.” –Los Angeles Municipal Court Judge David S. Wesley
On January 26, 2009 Judge David S. Wesley ruled that the Animal Liberation Front is not a “gang.” The government had tried to find two animal rights protestors guilty of being “gang members.” Judge Wesley stated that the prosecution’s expert Lt. Butte had “misled the grand jury. The ALF does not meet the legal requirements to be considered a gang. Their primary goal is to save animals, not commit crimes.” That charge was dismissed though other charges remain.
This ruling stems from the preliminary hearing in the case USA vs Linda Faith Greene, 62 and Kevin Richard Olliff, 23. Greene and Olliff are animal rights activists who protested and demonstrated against animal researchers. The alleged victims were animal researchers at UCLA, Dr. Lynn Fairbanks and Dr. Dario Ringach. They also protested against an employee of POM Wonderful. POM uses animal research in their advertising to try to support claims that their juice helps men with erectile dysfunction.
The activists protested at the homes and work places of the researchers and POM employee. The two activists were originally charged with stalking, conspiracy to commit stalking, threatening a public officer or school employee and conspiracy to commit against three victims for a total of ten counts each. This is the first time the California stalking law has ever been used against a protestor.
The prosecution also stated that their protest chants were not protected speech but threats. Some of the protestors were chanting “we know where you sleep at night,” “free the animals, ALF,” and “you can’t stop the ALF.” The outcome of this case may change American’s right to freedom of speech and the right to protest.
An excerpt taken from Kevin’s demurer written by Attorney John J. Uribe describes the case. “Kevin is not a criminal-he is an idealistic young man who believes in the power of citizens within a free society to engage in public protests in order to focus public attention on important issues. Animal rights and welfare are clearly matters of legitimate public interest, significance, and concern in his community and throughout the world.
As part of his advocacy, Kevin continues to participate in public pickets, demonstrations, and leafleting activity which has included such at and about the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) campus, as well as neighborhoods and residences of those affiliated with UCLA who were involved with animal testing on primates. There is not one shred of evidence in the indictment that Kevin committed any violent or illegal activities either against UCLA or any of the researchers, or anyone else, with any and all of his activities instead constitutionally protected. But it is this advocacy that the Indictment seeks to criminalize and is therefore challenged…”
Kevin’s attorney John J. Uribe asked to have his bail reduced from $460,000 to $20,000-$40,000. The judge refused. Kevin has now been in jail over nine months. Kevin’s family, friends and other animal rights activists were in court to support Kevin and Lindy. Their trial will commence March 3, 2010.
Website to support Kevin Olliff