The National Lawyers Guild’s Animal Rights Activism Committee expresses its solidarity with and grave concern for Marineland Animal Defense and the legal repression they are facing at the hands of Marineland Canada. Marineland, a captive animal facility in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada, was recently the subject of investigative reporting by the Toronto Star, based on the testimony of fifteen ex-employees which included allegations of animal abuse and mistreatment. Though anti-SLAPP legislation is pending (legislation that curbs lawsuits aimed against protected political speech), Marineland has filed several lawsuits against activists and ex employees, using the courts to prevent protesters from saying certain words like “abuse” on their signs or using megaphones. Marineland has further used its lawyers to threaten legal action against any person demonstrating in violation of the Court order, despite the fact that the order facially only applies to one person, effectively threatening to punish one individual if any other person on their own chooses to violate the order.
It is clear Marineland’s tactics are to silence public debate and criticism over their use, captivity and abuse of marine mammals through the use of repressive and intimidating lawsuits, injunctions aimed at completely silencing any criticism of the park and chilling any speech and debate around the subject in general. This campaign to criminalize Marineland Animal Defense’s political speech is part of a larger crackdown on political speech generally, both in the U.S. and in Canada. From the silencing of war dissenters, anti-government surveillance and spying activists, to the repression of the animal rights movement that threatens large business profits, it is clear Marineland has sought refuge from and is using the courts as a weapon in its conservative political agenda aiming to maximize profits no matter what the cost, even at the cost of the enslavement and torture of such intelligent animals as marine mammals.
The Animal Rights Activism Committee works to end oppression and exploitation of non-human animals. The committee engages Guild members to advocate for changes in the law to recognize the rights of non-human animals, and to provide legal support and resources to animal rights activists. It works in coalition with other groups to fight–in the courts and in the streets–to liberate non-human animals. The National Lawyers Guild, founded in 1937, is the oldest and largest public interest/human rights bar organization in the United States. Its headquarters are in New York and it has chapters in every state.