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Tonya Kay

Tonya Kay photo courtesy Tonya KayTonya Kay is an actress, TV personality, professional dancer and danger artist living in Los Angeles. A vegetarian of 28 years, vegan for 18 of those and raw vegan for the last 11, Tonya Kay pioneers the green health movement with appearances, publications and green media (available at KayosMarket). Watch Tonya Kay's self-produced web series The Eco Tourist on EcoHearth's Eco Tube. You may have also seen her recently on TV's My Ride Rules, The Tonight Show, Criminal Minds, Glee, House MD, Secret Girlfriend and American Idol with Rhianna. She has performed live in STOMP, De La Guarda, with Panic At The Disco, Kenny Rogers and in countless music videos and commercials. Look for Tonya Kay in the new Muppets Movie, starring in MTV Network's Video Game Reunion, playing a lead in the scripted animal-activist feature film, Bold Native, performing the voice of Green Girl in the raw vegan superhero animated film Rawman and Green Girl and performing burlesque live in Hollywood, California, almost any weekend. In 2012, Tonya Kay will star in the films Off World and Within The Darkness. For more on Tonya Kay, visit her website.

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FBI: 'Environmentalism Is Terrorism'
Tuesday, 15 January 2013 00:00  |  Written by Tonya Kay | Blog Entry

Sea Turtle photo by Ibrahim IujazIt's not easy being green. Conservation groups and animal activists give generously of their time, money and life-force to protect endandered species, voiceless animals and natural habitat. To meet resistance from corporations bent on destruction-for-profit seems almost predictable, but the government has sided with the corporations, it seems, and passed laws to make "doing the right thing" an imprisonable crime. Who did the FBI cite as the "number-one domestic terrorism threat in the US"? You'd be forgiven if you answered assassins who target abortion doctors or militia groups planting bombs in government buildings. Nope, the answer is animal-rights groups who have harmed neither humans nor animals.

Fighting the Good Fight...
The Turtle Island Restoration Network (TIRN) is an organization dedicated to protecting and restoring marine species and their habitats through consumer choices, government action and corporate responsibility. TIRN's longest-running initiative, the Sea Turtle Restoration Project, founded in 1989, fights to protect sea turtles from extinction. All seven species of sea turtles are endangered—the great leatherback critically so, with populations crashing since its listing as endangered in 1970. Scientists believe that industrial fishing is responsible for the sea-turtle population's precipitous decline.

Fortunately, TIRN has had numerous victories in their quarter century of dedicated activism, including closing a legal sea-turtle slaughterhouse in southern Mexico in 1990 and leading a large public campaign that resulted in Mexico’s joining the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), making it illegal to harvest sea turtles in Mexico altogether. TIRN quickly followed up this victory with an action that resulted in Japan—the major importer of harvested sea-turtle skins and shells—becoming a CITES signatory as well. TIRN has also gotten 20 nations to adopt regulations requiring their commercial fisheries to use Turtle Excluder Devices on their shrimp nets, permanently closed a California long-line fishery and made 100 linear miles of the Texas Gulf Coast off limits to shrimp fishing during turtle-nesting season. All this from a small, grassroots organization tirelessly doing the good work.

...And Being Called a Terrorist For It
Unfortunately, not all good work receives its just accolades. In 2011, at the 31st Annual Symposium on Sea Turtle Biology and Conservation, Todd Steiner, Executive Director of TIRN, was asked to speak as a conservation authority on a number of subjects. Todd's job is to educate, regulate and enforce fishing laws against high-seas trolling and long-line fishing practices that are annihilating our marine habitats and driving countless species extinct in the name of tuna and swordfish capture. Todd expected passionate disputes and intelligent discussions between his conservation organization and fishing corporations on the Finding Common Ground panel, but what he did not expect was TIRN to be called a terrorist organization.

"Terrorist" is a charged word to use in the United States. Any outsider looking in knows that TIRN is by no means a terrorist organization. What most people don't know is that there exists, as you read this, an actual law in the United States of America that allows the prosecution of conservationists and animal activists who inflict "economic damage" to an animal enterprise (agriculture, fishing, animal research, zoos, pet stores, etc.) as terrorists, a charge gravely different in terms of criminal prosecution as far as rights, fines and prison time.

The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act
Very few otherwise informed citizens are even aware of the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA) because in 2006 it was ramrodded through the Senate as an amendment to the earlier Animal Enterprise Protection Act (AEPA, 1992) by "unanimous consent," a procedure that is used to expedite "non-controversial" bills. Unfortunately, the act is anything but non-controversial and the rush through Congress appears to have more to do with corporations buying legislation than our government's concern for prosecuting legitimate terrorism.

Even though the AETA explicitly states that it should not be used to curtail First Amendment activities, in practice it clearly has been used in that way. In 2004, seven young adults went to prison under the AEPA for running a website. They were not convicted of committing violence against humans or non-humans, nor did they destroy property. Rather, these young adults merely operated an Internet site that effectively coordinated a protest against an animal research company.

The case United States vs. Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty USA put these nonviolent activists behind bars for up to six years (the last of the jailed Shac 7 will be released this fall) essentially for exercising rights guaranteed to them under the First Amendment. Running a website is not illegal. Nor is protesting. Speaking out against a status quo that makes powerful people rich apparently is.

Speaking Truth to Power
Denis Hennelly, director of Bold Native, the first fictional film about animal liberation (full disclosure: I acted in it), has been following the progress of the AETA for more than a decade. "The spark for Bold Native came out of reading that the FBI called the Animal Liberation Front the number-one domestic terrorism threat in the US and we had never even heard of them. As we researched it, we discovered they'd never hurt anyone—human or non-human—and we were perplexed as to how a group that had never caused any violence to a human being could be considered the number-one domestic terrorism threat in our own country. We knew about abortion clinic murders, militia injuries, skinhead violence and white supremacist group tactics—none of them are targeted as terrorists. Why animal activists? The most obvious answer is animal liberators cost corporations money and these other groups cost American lives. When the legal system is more concerned about corporate monies than the lives of Americans, we have a screwed-up situation. That research fueled our fire to communicate what we were learning through a fictional film."

"It is totally absurd," says Todd Steiner, director of TIRN, about being it being labeled a terrorist organization, "because we use a legal process to accomplish our goals. In terms of terrorists, the real terrorists are the people out there fishing illegally, causing species to go extinct—in my humble opinion."

Animal activists and conservationists have been targeted as terrorists by the government for more than two decades and so also will soon be peace activists, women's-rights advocates and social-justice supporters—if we don't call out this absurdity now. We all should have the freedom to use our voices. And, if we harm no one, we should be unafraid to take action on our ideals no matter what corporations might disagree with us.

What YOU Can Do
To make a difference for victims of the AETA, spread the knowledge—and this article (here’s a shortened link to copy and paste: http://bit.ly/qJb4oU)—around. Donate to the Center for Constitutional Rights, an organization dedicated to protecting the rights granted by the US Constitution and the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Read about the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act and support those who have gone to jail for First Amendment activity falsely labeled as terrorism by writing them letters or donating to their legal funds.

To make sure your activist time, energy and money goes directly to your cause, make small donations to small organizations like Turtle Island Restoration Network, assuring your cash will not be used for administrative or marketing campaigns, but actual field work. If you can’t make a donation, volunteer your time, organize a protest, call your representatives and sign petitions.

To protect animal welfare and marine habitats most effectively and immediately, go vegan. Especially avoid swordfish, shark and tuna, products of the most destructive industrial fishing practices threatening the oceanic environment. Remember: Ranchers and fishermen are filing a niche. If we do not purchase their products, they won't make a business out of it. And please reconsider your use of plastics in the world today—instead of recycling it, precycle it. That is, if you don't buy it, then it won't have to be recycled.

[Sign up to be notified each time Tonya publishes a new Clean and Green Everyday blog entry on EcoHearth. See a complete list of writing by Tonya Kay on EcoHearth.com or visit her Clean and Green Everyday blog. – Ed.]

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Comments (3)add
Written by Tonya Kay , January 24, 2013
Thank you, Sarah. You are fighting the good fight, too, and the simplest way to fight this is on a personal level: go vegan. It's easy and good for you, too! Political activism through diet. But we need people on all sides with all sorts of actions pulling their weight. I know you know and practice.
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Written by Sarah , January 23, 2013
Fight the good fight!!! I will stand up for what's right even if I stand alone and in cuffs! Thank you for the article as this is an issue rarely spoken about, but is seriously unjust and needs to be on the forefront of the animal rights movement. How are we able to continue to speak up for those who cannot speak, if we will be jailed! We the people, has become, We the corporations and this is not right! Thank you for fighting the good fight and all the work you do to help our fellow animals friends, the environment and your commitment to make positive change!
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Written by terry , August 02, 2011
I had no idea that government was classifying activist groups as terrorist organizations as a way to increase their ability to infiltrate, prosecute and punish them. Seems very un-American.

Thanks for making me aware. I'll spread the word among my friends and contact my Congressman!
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