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Repealing the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act: Event at Suffolk University

6pm-9pm Tuesday, March 27th 2012
Suffolk University Law School
120 Tremont Street, Boston, MA 02108-4977

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Suffolk Law School, Harvard Law School, and New England School of Law present a panel discussion of how the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act is undermining our rights.

Featuring:  Odette Wilkens, Esq. (Executive Director of the Equal Justice Alliance), Ryan Shapiro (Animal rights activist & doctoral candidate at MIT), Andy Stepanian (Ex-SHAC 7 political prisoner  & cofounder of  The Sparrow Project), David Nathanson, Esq. (Partner in the Boston law firm of Wood & Nathanson, LLP), Will Potter (Award-winning independent journalist & author of Green Is the New Red)

Odette Wilkens is Executive Director of the Equal Justice Alliance, whose mission is to repeal the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act.  She is a member of the Committee of Legal Issues Pertaining to Animals of the New York City Bar Association.  That Committee issued a Comment opposing the Act before its passage, and after its passage, issued a letter, along with the Civil Rights Committee, to President Obama’s Administration and Congress calling for the repeal of the Act.  Project Censored honored her with an award in 2007 for co-authoring an editorial published in the Vermont Journal of Environmental Law: “The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act is Invidiously Detrimental to the Animal Rights Movement (and Unconstitutional as Well).” Under her guidance, the Equal Justice Alliance succeeded in persuading the National Center for Animal Law at Lewis & Clark Law School to focus their moot court competition on the AETA.  That competition took place at Harvard Law School in February 2008, where Odette was a moot court judge. She has spoken at numerous law schools, bar associations, and legal conferences on the Act’s implications for civil liberties.  Odette is also a corporate and transactional attorney focusing on information technology, and has spoken on corporate records retention policies.  She was Assistant General Counsel for a major international recruiting firm after working as associate counsel at a leading technology law firm, Brown Raysman Millstein Felder & Steiner.  Before becoming an attorney, Odette negotiated film license agreements, and was Assistant Corporate Secretary, for HBO.  She also has an MBA in Finance from the Stern Graduate School of Business at New York University, and is a graduate of Barnard College, affiliated with Columbia University.

David Nathanson is a partner in the Boston law firm of Wood & Nathanson, LLP. Previously, he was a staff attorney in the private counsel division of the Criminal Appeals Unit at the Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS). From 1997 to 2001, David was a sole practitioner focusing on criminal appeals and pro bono trial representation of protestors. He joined CPCS in 2001. He returned to private practice in January 2008 as a partner with Attorney Chauncey Wood.  David’s most widely known case is [Smith v. Massachusetts, 543 U.S. 462 (2005)], holding that a granted motion for a required finding of not guilty at the close of the Commonwealth’s case may not be later reconsidered.  He was also among a group of seven lawyers who successfully defended animal rights activists in Massachusetts state court against extortion charges stemming from their campaign to shame investors into divesting from a notorious animal experimentation laboratory.  He has frequently presented trainings on criminal appellate matters for CPCS and for the Massachusetts Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. David is a graduate of Rutgers University School of Law at Newark, and was a member of the Rutgers Animal Law Clinic while in law school.

Andy Stepanian is an ex-SHAC7 political prisoner and currently the co-founder of The Sparrow Project, a grassroots PR outfit that aims to braid popular culture, the arts, and revolutionary activism.  In 2002, the Financial Times characterized SHAC as “succeeding where Karl Marx, the Baader-Meinhof gang, and the Red Brigades failed.” Their actions drew the attention of Wall Street and the FBI, resulting in a politically charged landmark free speech case called the SHAC 7 trial, where Andy and 5 others were charged and convicted as terrorists for their activism. Sentenced to 3 years in prison, Andy spent his last 6.5 months in a secretive federal prison program that NPR would later name ‘Guantanamo North’.

Ryan Shapiro is a longtime animal rights activist and now a doctoral candidate in the Department of Science, Technology, & Society at MIT. His research explores the use of the rhetoric and apparatus of national security to marginalize animal protectionists as threats to the United States from the late nineteenth century to the present. As part of this work, Ryan has nearly five hundred Freedom of Information Act requests in motion with the FBI. He is also currently a plaintiff in the federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act.

Will Potter is an award-winning independent journalist based in Washington, D.C., who focuses on “eco-terrorism,” the animal rights and environmental movements, and civil liberties post-9/11.  His work has appeared in publications including the Chicago Tribune, the Huffington Post, and the Vermont Law Review, and he has testified before the U.S. Congress about his reporting.  Will frequently lectures about efforts to roll back civil liberties in the name of fighting terrorism. Speaking engagements have included the New York City Bar Association, Yale Law School, and the House of Democracy and Human Rights in Berlin. Media appearances have included the Los Angeles Times, Mother Jones, and Democracy Now.  His book, Green Is The New Red: An Insider’s Account of a Social Movement Under Siege was recently published by City Lights Books. It has been featured by NPR, The Rumpus, and Publisher’s Weekly. Kirkus Book Reviews awarded it a Kirkus Star for “remarkable merit” and named it one of the best books of 2011.