New terrorism amendment aimed at ALF

Erin Ghere

In response to the destruction of 12 University labs last month, a state legislative conference committee passed an amendment requiring those who claim responsibility for terrorist acts pay three times the amount of damage caused.
Sen. Dave Kleis (R-St. Cloud) added the amendment to the Senate’s crime bill after the April 5 destruction of the labs, which caused nearly $2 million in damages. The Animal Liberation Front has taken responsibility for the damage.
The full Legislature will vote on the bill later this week.
Kleis’ bill recommends prosecution of “any person who promotes, advocates or assumes responsibility for a criminal act with the intent to instigate the unlawful conduct.”
Kevin Kjonaas, spokesman for the Animal Liberation Front and a political science senior, said he and his lawyers think the legislation is ridiculous.
Originally, the amendment had two parts: criminal and civil liability.
But in conference committee with House of Representatives and Senate representatives, legislators dismissed the criminal portion, which would have charged violators with a gross misdemeanor carrying a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a $3,000 fine.
“The main thing was to get at the cost of the damages,” Kleis said.
The party declaring responsibility is only liable for acts relating to the interruption of experiments or the destruction of facilities, according to a source from the offices of Rep. Sherry Broecker (R-Vadnais Heights).
Also included in the provision is a statement making a third party liable for damages, Kleis said.
This would make additional individuals or groups who aid in planning to release animals liable as well.
Kleis noted that the third party liability has been upheld by the courts. He said he hopes the civil consequences would be a deterrent for future terrorist actions.
While the bill was on the Senate floor, one senator suggested making the law retroactive so the ALF representatives would face prosecution.
Legislators later threw that amendment out because of concerns that it was unconstitutional.