Special Feature: Activist Peter Young
Peter Young is a Straight Edge vegan who graduated from high school in upscale Mercer Island, Washington in 1995. In 1996, he was arrested in Oregon on a criminal trespassing charge and ordered to pay a $174 fine.
In April 1997, he was arrested while celebrating the ten-year anniversary of an Animal Liberation Front arson at the UC Davis veterinary school
In 1997, Young and two others (Justin Clayton Samuel and Allison Porter) were arrested in Mercer Island. In their possession were bolt cutters, Animal Liberation Front propaganda, a vial of animal tranquilizer, and the book Free the Animals: The Story of the Animal Liberation Front, by Ingrid Newkirk, founder of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Young was found guilty of third-degree theft and ordered to pay a $5,000 fine and sentenced to a year in jail. A second charge of malicious mischief brought a fine of $1,000 and a 90-day jail sentence.
It is unclear how Young avoided serving the sentence, but in October of that very same year, 1997, he and Samuel headed out for a multi-state crime spree, releasing and abandoning farm-raised mink, and causing hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages. (Young’s recollections on )
In 1998, he and Samuel were indicted by a federal grand jury in Madison, Wisconsin on four extortion charges and two animal enterprise terrorism counts. The charges related to attacks on mink farms in Wisconsin, South Dakota and Iowa in 1997.
Both fled soon after the indictment, but Samuel was captured in 1999 in Belgium, extradited to the US and sentenced to two years in prison. Young, however, escaped capture for the next seven years.
In March 2005 he was caught shoplifting CDs at Starbucks in San Jose, California. In September, he pleaded guilty to two counts of animal enterprise terrorism in a deal with prosecutors. Prosecutors had earlier decided to drop the four extortion counts against Young believing them to have been rendered invalid by a 2003 Supreme Court ruling.
On Nov. 8, 2005, he was sentenced to two years in prison, one year of supervised release, and 360 hours of community service, and ordered to pay $254,000 in restitution to the farmers he victimized. (As of March 2010, he had still not paid anything in restitution even though he was actively raising money for a tax-free “charitable” organization which he claimed was providing money for those arrested for breaking the law. It is unclear if this organization is actually incorporated.)
By October 2007, Young was available for “motivational” speeches promoting the domestic terrorist Animal Liberation Front, offering thousands of dollars to anyone caught vandalizing farms. He also began traveling the vegan Straight Edge music circuit, selling T-shirts and CDs on tours of the band Earth Crisis, and engaging in vegan food-eating contests with the next generation of kids getting arrested for breaking the law.
He also set up Voice of the Voiceless to disseminate hit lists for use by violent vegan extremists and help raise money for those caught breaking the law. It is a matter of opinion whether his rhetoric should be viewed as “educational” or incitement. (Further reading: FCUSA special feature: Regulating the conflict industry.)
An essay by Young on revolution was included in the 2009 publication “This country must change: Essays of the necessity of revolution in the USA,” edited by Craig Rosebraugh, former spokesman for ELF.
Breaking news: On Mar. 15, 2010, Young’s home in Salt Lake City, UT, was raided by law enforcement officers authorized to seize materials tied to animal enterprise terrorism. (See: FBI searches Salt Lake City Home of animal rights supporter. Salt Lake Tribune, Mar. 16, 2010.) The raid was reportedly in connection with an attack on the psychology department at Iowa University on Nov. 17, 2004, in which more than 400 animals, including rats, mice and pigeons were released, more than 30 computers and three offices were damaged, and hazardous chemicals were deliberately spilled. Damage and losses were put at $450,000. ALF claimed guilt.