Four Animal Rights Activists Arrested for Protests, Assault in California

By Matthew Harwood

Federal authorities last week arrested and charged four animal rights activists under a never before used federal law which protects industries and individuals that use animals in their work.

According to San Jose Mercury News, the defendants are:

One-time Cabrillo College student Nathan Pope, 26, of Oceanside and former UCSC student Adriana Stumpo, 23, of Long Beach were arrested by the FBI at the airport in Charlotte, N.C., upon their return Thursday to the U.S. from Costa Rica, the Charlotte Joint Terrorism Task Force reported. They appeared in federal court in Charlotte on Friday and face extradition to California.

The other two suspects - Joseph Buddenberg, 25, of Berkeley, and former UCSC student Maryam Khajavi, 20, of Pinole - were arrested by the FBI and UC Berkeley police Friday. Khajavi was arrested in Oakland and Buddenberg, the only one of the four not tied to the Riverside Avenue house in Santa Cruz, was arrested at the Alameda County Courthouse.

All four have been charged, in part, under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act. The law passed in 2006 prohibits anyone from destroying property or harassing or violently intimidating anyone associated with an animal enterprise. Critics say it tramples on the activists' First Amendment rights and criminalizes dissent. No specifics have been released regarding how many counts each defendant faces under the AETA but the Mercury reports they could face up to five years in prison for each violation if convicted.

The defendants were arrested for their alleged involvement in four incidents: an October 2007 protest outside a UC-Berkeley professor's home where the activists trespassed onto the property; demonstrating and "chalking" slogans outside several UC researchers' homes in January 2008; the February 2008 home invasion of a UCSC researcher, which ended in the assault of the researcher's husband; and the July 2008 dissemination of fliers that contained UCSC researchers' names, addresses, and telephone numbers along with intimidating language.

There is also no word whether any of the defendants will be charged for alleged involvement in two August 2008 firebombings that shook the UC system's biomedical research community. On August 2, the home of David Feldheim, an assistant biology professor at UCSC, was firebombed before dawn. The professor, his wife, and his two small children escaped the blaze by evacuating their home from the second story. That night, another firebomb burned another UCSC researcher's car outside the researcher's home.

Since 2006, there has been an upsurge in both legal and illegal activity among animal rights activists to end the system- wide use of animals at University of California campuses.


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