Davis legislator sued
Animal rights group upset at terrorist label
Tuesday, February 5, 2002
The Standard-Examiner (Ogden, UT)
By Nesreen Khashan
SALT LAKE CITY – An Illinois-based animal-rights group has filed a defamation suit against a Davis County lawmaker who the activists claim has labeled them as terrorists.
Showing Animals Respect and Kindness, the animal-rights group that has been trailing the Olympic Torch as it has made its way across the continent, filed the suit Monday in 3rd District Court.
The group's founder, Steve Hindi, accuses Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield, of distributing to the news media a letter the lawmaker wrote Jan. 3 to Salt Lake Organizing Committee president Mitt Romney. In the letter, Ray refers to SHARK and another animal-rights group, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, as being radicals and terrorists.
"We cannot allow terrorist groups such as SHARK and PETA (to) frighten us with their threats of violence," the letter said.
Salt Lake City attorney Brian Barnard, who is suing Ray on behalf of SHARK, said the suit was filed in part because of the more serious connotation the word "terrorist" has ha after the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
"To accuse someone of being a terrorist today is accusing someone of being involved in illegal conduct that kills people," Barnard said. "SHARK abhors violence in any form, be it against humans or animals."
Ray said he has not seen the lawsuit, but he is not surprised by the action.
Ray said the comments he directed at representatives of SHARK and others were referring to those animal-rights activists that funnel funds to such groups as the Animal Liberation Front. He said ALF has been identified as a terrorist group by the FBI.