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Minneapolis animal-rights activists  jailed for contempt in Iowa

By BOB VON STERNBERG,
Star Tribune
November 17, 2009 - 3:36 PM

Two political activists from Minneapolis were jailed today for refusing to answer questions before a federal grand jury apparently investigating a five-year-old animal-rights vandalism incident.

The activists, Carrie Feldman and Scott DeMuth, were found in contempt of court by U.S. District Judge John Jarvey and placed in custody of the U.S. Marshall's Service.

The district court clerk's office confirmed what occurred in the Davenport, Iowa, courtroom, but the U.S. Attorney's office didn't immediately return a call seeking comment.

The subject of grand jury deliberations are generally secret, but the organization backing Feldman and DeMuth said they were wanted for questioning about vandalism that occurred at the University of Iowa in November 2004.

At the time, according to Earth Warriors are OK! (EWOK), "Feldman was only 15 years old and DeMuth was only 17 years old, and both were residents of the Twin Cities. However, both have more recently been involved in supporting political prisoners who were incarcerated as a result of the government's Green Scare tactics, which target animal-rights and environmental activists."

The Animal Liberation Front claimed responsibility for vandalizing two laboratories and three offices at the University of Iowa on Nov. 14, 2004. In addition, according to the group:

"All animals on the third floor of the UI psychology department -- 88 mice and 313 rats -- were removed, examined and treated by a sympathetic veterinarian, and placed in loving homes."

About the same time, vandals caused about $1 million in damage to a science building under construction at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. The Animal Liberation Front was never linked to that case.

After Feldman and DeMuth appeared before the grand jury, they were offered limited immunity for their testimony in order to compel them to talk, but they still refused, according to the Quad Cities Times.

That led Jarvey to find them in contempt of court; they will be held indefinitely or until they agree to testify.

Speaking to supporters outside the federal courthouse in Davenport this morning, both activists delivered prepared statements.

Feldman told them: "I stand here today in solidarity with everyone who has stood up to resist the exploitation of the environment and animals, the repression of the state, and the abuses of the justice system. ...I do feel contempt for a justice system that prosecutes people for property damage that is done in defense of life, while real violence is committed at the hands of vivisectors, the police, and the military on a daily basis."

DeMuth: "When investigative techniques of law enforcement fail, grand juries have been used as a tactic to intimidate movements and coerce testimony from movement members. ...I want to thank all the communities that have supported me, including my academic peers and communities striving for liberation."

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