Massive Government Harassment in Utah
from No Compromise Issue 5
 

By Dave Wilson

Because some of the claims in this article seem far-fetched, No Compromise contacted the author and the driver of the vehicle that became engulfed in flames to clarify/confirm statements made herein.

Furthermore, part of this article claims Anne Davis provided information on activists to the Feds, so we also spoke with her, and numerous activists who have had first hand experience with her to verify that she is an informant. When we spoke with her, she told us that she told the grand jury that another activist said "we did this" while reading a newspaper that allegedly reported on an arson attack on an abuse establishment. Anne said this information was not incriminating as she didn't know what article the activist was looking at.

However, numerous activists we spoke with have heard from her own mouth her willingness to speak with the FBI. Furthermore, police reports written on September 7, 1995 state, "She [Anne Davis] has been questioned and regarded as somewhat of an informant or a possible witness if anything develops in the future" and further, "It could be stated that she has been friendly towards the law enforcements community efforts to find whoever is responsible for the acts of vandalism and now the arson problem that we now face."

Because of our research, No Compromise feels confident in warning activists that Anne Davis of the Utah Animal Rights Alliance is an informant.

Today, in extreme desperation, it seems as if the FBI will go to any length to destroy the animal rights movement. As many know, the witch hunt that took place in the late 80's and early 90's never completely stopped. In many places around the country, the FBI continues to harass activists and violate their civil rights. The following is a summary of some of the things the FBI has done in Utah during my work in the Utah Animal Rights Alliance (ARA).

After two A.L.F. raids in June 1995 -- one on a candy shop because they used milk and another attack on Majestic Meats -- the Utah Animal Rights Alliance (ARA) experienced intense investigation. The director, Anne Davis, was placed under constant surveillance. Everywhere she went -- to work, to the grocery store, to home -- a Ford Taurus or similar official-looking, unmarked vehicle would follow her. When she was at demonstrations, the drivers of those vehicles took pictures of her and the other activists. These same cars also constantly parked outside of her house. When she left her house, the driver would take pictures of her -- pictures which she would later see in her FBI file which the authorities showed her.

At the same time that this harassment started to happen, Anne Davis' phone as well as the phones of most of the board of directors of ARA started acting peculiar. At specific times during the day, their phones would ring once, and then stop. When the board members did manage to pick up their phones within that one ring, they would hear strange clicking computer noises. Their caller ID's would always say these calls were from out of the area. They suspected their phones were tapped, something which the authorities later confirmed to Anne Davis.

This continued for months, and investigators approached Anne Davis several times to try and ask her questions. They would call her and she would hang up the phone. They would come to her door to subpoena her, and she would not answer it. After months of being harassed, Anne still wouldn't talk.

Despite her not talking, rumors began circulating that Anne Davis had spoken with the FBI and incriminated some A.L.F. activists. At the time, this was not true. However, Anne started receiving death threats. One day she found a stuffed animal covered in "blood" on her doorstep with a note saying "Don't talk or die!" Anne also received anonymous calls that contained the same message. She believed the threats to be perpetrated by other activists -- although she admits it could just as well be Federal agents or law enforcement.

In the Summer of 1995, the Feds finally subpoenaed Anne to speak before a grand jury. She went to the hearing which was months later and told the FBI everything she knew, including evidence that incriminated one woman activist in a local arson attack. Anne has told me that she told them everything and that she would do it again to get them to leave her alone.

But her speaking at the grand jury did not get the FBI off of her back. The authorities continued to visit and call her at home and work. On one occasion, near the beginning of 1996, the authorities told Anne that because the majority of the A.L.F. suspects were from the "straight-edge" scene [Ed. note: straight-edgers are people who do not consume alcohol, tobacco or other mind altering drugs], they had planted investigators at the local high schools to gather information on the "vegan-straight-edge" crowd.

After hearing this, Anne tried to distance herself and ARA from the straight-edgers. She ordered me, as her assistant, to not inform the straight-edgers of protest times and dates, even though they were some of the only people who regularly attended them. In February of 1996, she even went so far as to change the time and date of a protest when she discovered that straight-edgers were planning on attending it. The few straight-edge individuals that did attend demonstrations were not dressed in the typical skater attire. Anne hoped that discouraging straight-edgers from attending would help convince the FBI that she was not involved with any "radical" fringe. Of course, it didn't work.

However, the FBI thought they hadn't gotten enough information out of her or just wanted to further harass her and, during the Summer of 1996, threatened to serve her another subpoena. This time, Anne wrote them a letter saying if they tried to subpoena her again, she would do a news conference to expose the FBI's harassment of legitimate activists. She was not served a second subpoena, however they did not leave her alone either.

In fact, the harder Anne tried to break every connection between herself and the local A.L.F. activity, the more the FBI harassed her. One Saturday in January of 96, after an ARA meeting, Anne went to her car and discovered it wouldn't start. The auto shop later told her the oil tank had been "punctured". Her car had been tampered with, and the Feds were suspected.

However, our suspicions grew when later that week, another car-tampering occurred to ARA activists. Chris (not his real name) and I were driving home from an ARA meeting at Anne's house. When we were on the freeway, I smelled smoke in the car. Chris thought it smelled like burning rubber or burning hair. The next thing we knew sparks were flying everywhere and fire gushed from out of the hood. Chris had slowed the car down somewhat and bailed onto the median of the freeway when it was still moving, but I was stuck in my seat belt. It was terrifying because the flames were burning through the glove compartment in front of me. As my vinyl boots were about to melt, I finally opened the seat belt and jumped out of the still-moving car into the middle of the freeway. The car crashed into the side of the freeway and blew up in flames. We were lucky for getting out alive. Both of us were badly bruised but had no major injuries.

To add insult to injury, the cop who arrived to the scene would not let us sit in his car to stay warm. He was a total asshole. We had to wait outside in the cold until the tow truck arrived and the driver let us sit in his vehicle. I had got the officer's name but when I contacted the local police to make a complaint against him, they said no officer by that name worked there.

The firemen who had arrived at the scene of the fire thought a punctured gas line had caused the fire.

In spite of these bizarre circumstances, I continued working with ARA. Occasionally, unmarked, official-looking vehicles would follow me everywhere I went. It wasn't always the same car, just the same kind of car -- usually a Ford Taurus. And as I left the ARA parking lot, the car would follow me home, and anywhere else I would go that night.

Numerous other activists were similarly harassed. A close friend and animal rights activist answered her door at 8am on a Saturday morning in July of 1996 to discover Federal Agents who asked her to come with them to the station. She was not aware of her rights and went with them. One of the agents asked her if she knew me . She told them that she didn't. The agents then pulled out an 8" x 10" glossy photo of us both eating at a local vegetarian cafe. They continued pressuring her for information using the usual scare tactics such as "your friends have already told us everything" and "we already have all the evidence we need to send you to jail, but if you give us the information we need, you will receive a lighter sentence". She said nothing further and refused to cooperate, as she did know she had the right to remain silent. She was never charged with committing a crime.

Many other suspects were approached by agents in the early morning hours to be interrogated before and after this incident. However when activists stayed strong and refused to cooperate, the FBI backed away from the suspects.

Anne Davis, on the other hand, wasn't so smart. In the hopes of protecting herself, she willingly gave information and any evidence she could discover to the FBI. As a result, the FBI continued to blame ARA for A.L.F. activity and continued to harass Anne for more information. In the end, ARA became a completely inactive group as it lost all of its supporters and members. The FBI had successfully "neutralized" it.

If it weren't for the A.L.F., there would not be any actions for animals in Utah -- the second largest fur producing state in the country -- not to mention the massive amounts of vivisection and factory farming that goes on here too.

After seeing everything that went on in ARA, I can not impress upon anyone how important it is for us to stick together. Only through solidarity will we succeed in fighting off the Agents of Repression and achieving total liberation. Beware of informers such as Anne Davis. They can cause more harm to the movement than anyone. She was used as a tool by the government to spread fear and divide the local grassroots animal rights movement. Finally, learn as much as possible about our enemies and their tactics -- we can't successfully combat the enemy's tactics while blind-folded. Remember, this is a battle we can win and together we will!

Dave Wilson, will soon be returning to Salt Lake City to start Animal Liberation League -- Utah.

What to Learn: The above described harassment is bold and public, and is done primarily to scare and intimidate activists in the hopes of making them so paranoid and fearful that they cannot effectively organize. In this case, the Feds were successful.

If the activists had filed restraining orders against those people who followed them, been represented by a lawyer so the investigators could not harass them at home and work, legally fought the subpoena so that Anne would not have to speak to the grand jury, and exposed the FBI's COINTELPRO tactics to the media, all of the ill effects could have been avoided, and the situation wouldn't have escalated to the point where people were put in life-threatening situations and incriminated for A.L.F. activity.

Another lesson to learn is how unfounded rumors harm activists and our cause. It is very important to confront the person whom the rumor is about to hear their side of the story, while also trying to confirm or disprove the rumor by other unbiased and respectable parties. One wonders if Anne's talking to the Feds could have been prevented if she had received support from activists during this trying time. However, under no circumstances -- death threats included -- is incriminating activists acceptable.

This situation also shows how important it is for groups to stay in contact with the "greater animal rights community" (for lack of a better phrase). This harassment was allowed to continue for so long because few people -- except the activists involved -- knew it was happening. When government harassment starts, let everyone know about it! Grassroots liberationists can help groups morally, financially and tactically to fend off the Feds. Actions are now being taken to stop these civil liberties abuses once and for all.

Finally, this incidence also shows what we've known all along: the more you cooperate with the authorities, the more they harass you. Just as bullies sense weakness in people and attack, the Feds sense who is most intimidated by their tactics and then target them for more harassment. And they decide who is most intimidated by who is most willing to cooperate with them.

So in Utah we have lost the first round with the Feds. Let's learn from this mistake so it is not repeated.