I recently reported the capture of Peter Daniel Young, who'd taken it on the lam for several years after his alleged participation in breaking into mink farms in the Midwest, and releasing the animals. Here's a lengthy follow-up report:
After seven years of running from federal authorities, an animal rights activist wanted for attacking fur farms has finally been caught in San Jose -- for shoplifting CDs at a Starbucks.
Hey! A man's gotta have his tunes, right? And what's day without coffee at Starbucks?
How very . . . decadent . . . to indulge one's passions for the material things so symbolic of corporate middle class American life!
How very much a non-sequitor such indulgences seem for a person of Mr. Young's heroic ideological proclivities . . .
And how blindingly stupid to be busted for boosting a few CDs . . .
A grand jury indicted Peter Daniel Young, 27, and an accomplice in 1998 for a series of break-ins at Midwestern mink farms, during which thousands of animals were released to the wild. The accomplice was ultimately caught in Belgium, but Young seemed to have disappeared, until March 21.
Now he is in isolation in Santa Clara County Jail, where he is complaining about the lack of suitable food to meet his vegan diet.
A man of principle to the end . . .
Young's years on the lam ended in the Starbucks on The Alameda and West Julian Street in San Jose. It was after 9 p.m. and officer Ian Cooley of the San Jose Police Department was on duty and in uniform at the coffee shop. According to the police report, Cooley saw Young swipe some Starbucks music CDs from a display case and hide them under his coat. When he asked Young to open his coat, eight identical CDs fell to the floor.
In front of a copper! Is there no end to the stupidity?
Asked for identification, Young gave Cooley a Virginia ID. Suspicious, Cooley handcuffed him and searched him, finding a handcuff key taped to the rear inside of his belt -- right where his cuffed hands would be.
This is a joke, right? The guy is seriously concerned about being busted, so he tapes a handcuff key to his belt.
Then he lifts some CDs in plain sight of a cop!
What are they putting in Starbucks coffee these days?
An extensive fingerprint check found an outstanding federal warrant for ``animal enterprise terrorism'' in connection with the farm break-ins in Wisconsin, South Dakota and Iowa.
``He was on the run for seven and a half years,'' said Mike Johnson of the Milwaukee bureau of the FBI, who added that Young will be extradited to Wisconsin after facing local charges for shoplifting and presenting false identification. ``All of the others were convicted, and he was the only one who was still missing.''
A spokesman for the Santa Clara County corrections department said Monday that Young is being held in isolation because he refused to take a tuberculosis test. Young is a strict vegan who studiously avoids using or consuming animal products, and some TB tests contain animal products.
``He has very conscientious beliefs concerning diet and the treatment of animals,'' said Redwood City attorney Lupe Martinez, who was recently retained to represent him.
I sincerely applaud Mr. Young!
He's taking the courageous and honorable way into the unknown, and his decision is fully consistent with his principles (however loopy and self-destructive some might find them to be).
Mr. Young need answer no questions about the depth of his commitment to the Animal Rights/Animal Liberationist cause, and he should have a clear ideological conscience about at least this one decision (though I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that he seems on the path to winning a Darwin Award).
In taking his stand, Mr. Young clearly separates himself from the likes of Josh Harper, who willingly accepted treatment for his testicular cancer, and Janet Tomlinson, who equally willingly is accepting treatment for her breast cancer.
Both are fully aware that the purchase of the supplies and pharmaceuticals used to treat them created profits for the companies that produced them, regardless of who paid the bill. And both are fully aware that some portion of those profits will be used to support further animal experiments. Each violated their own principles, and animals will be bought and experimented on because they lacked the gumption to do what Mr. Young did.
Young does not appear to own a car and has no known address. His arrest in San Jose has raised questions about what he is doing in the Bay Area.
``Kids don't wake up and roll out of bed and say `Let's attack a fur farm,' '' said Teresa Platt, executive director of Fur Commission USA, a trade association representing over 400 mink-farming families across the country. ``I'd like to know who introduced him to this, and who indoctrinated him. And who's been hiding him? You can't tell me that nobody knew where he was for seven years.''
So — will Mr. Young flip and name names for a lighter sentence?
Or, in a careless moment, or in a fit of ideological fervor, or out of pure defiance, will Mr. Young let slip unintentionally a piece of information that will lead to the arrest of a supporter or two?
The animal rights community in the United States is tightly knit, with many activists sharing their passion at regional and national conferences, protests and even jail cells. Since Young's arrest, there has been a flurry of activity to support him, from pressuring the jail to provide vegan meals to legal support.
Jail officials have said they can provide Young a vegetarian diet but not a vegan one, because that would mean shopping and cooking just for him.
I guess that's just one of the hardships of being caught . . . no vegan diet . . . how much more painful can things get for this poor guy?
It is not clear why Young was in San Jose. Some experts believe that the animal rights movement has a loosely-knit underground network in place, allowing activists wanted by the law to elude authorities for years. If fellow activists provide food, money and safe places to stay, some can get by on cash and odd jobs for years.
A Web site, www.supportpeter.com, has already been set up.
``It is a sad day when one can be charged with terrorism for releasing once wild animals back into the wild,'' said a statement released Monday by the support group. ``In 1997, individuals released thousands of mink from five fur farms in the Midwestern United States. Peter Young stands accused as one of those individuals. He now faces federal charges of Animal Enterprise Terrorism and unlawful interference with state commerce.''
You know what? I'd sure like to see the Environmental Impact statement the ALF filed before releasing those animals . . . Precipitously releasing thousands of mink into the wild has to have had some major impact . . .
Originally from Mercer Island, Wash., Young was one of about 20 people arrested at an April 1997 demonstration at the University of California-Davis. The demonstration marked the 10th anniversary of a $4 million fire at the university's Vet Medicine Diagnostic lab.
Well, there you have it. This story will need to be followed.