Investigator Speaks As She Heads to Jail for Exposing Factory Farm Cruelty
By Will Potter / greenisthenewred.com
Jul 11, 2015

A few days ago, animal rights activist Amber Canavan began a jail sentence for photographing and rescuing several ducks from Hudson Valley Foie Gras, where ducks are force-fed until their livers are engorged.

She was originally charged with felony burglary and petty larceny, which could have meant up to 7 years in prison. After 3 years of legal proceedings, the charges were reduced and she plead guilty to misdemeanor trespass.

As part of her sentence, she will not be compelled to identify any other investigators, or pay any restitution to the farm.

I spoke with Amber Canavan just days before she began her jail sentence:

Why are you going to jail?

Amber Canavan: “I was recently convicted of criminal trespass for my part in an undercover investigation and open rescue of two ducks from a massive foie gras duck force feeding facility in New York. Foie gras is the liver of a duck who has been force-fed an unnatural amount of corn gruel, resulting in a diseased, fattened liver. This engorged liver is served as a delicacy in a relatively small number of restaurants across the country. This intensive force-feeding process, combined with standard factory farm conditions, cause the ducks extreme discomfort, illness, and death.

I have been a volunteer for the Animal Protection and Rescue League for a number of years, and I became more involved when APRL launched a number of investigations into the foie gras industry. I was on the east-coast team, charged with checking in to Hudson Valley Foie Gras, which is located a few hours from my hometown, and whose proximity had weighed on my mind for years.

The investigation itself went off without a hitch. While there, our team collected many hours of footage, and rescued two traumatized ducks. We discovered that almost all of the birds suffered from untreated sores, respiratory disease, and many had broken limbs. One duck was found with a wound on his throat, which was oozing pus, apparently from improper insertion of the metal force-feeding tube. Others were found dead, often with gruel pouring from their beaks.

The footage was shared and used by many organizations in their campaigns. Unfortunately, it was shared a little too freely, and the District Attorney came into possession of the raw footage, as well as my name. I was arrested in May 2013, two years after the investigation and rescue took place.”

 

This has been a very lengthy ordeal. Could you tell us about how it was finally resolved in this way?

Amber Canavan: “First of all, at the time of my arrest, I was a full-time student (I have since graduated), so the delays between arrest and indictment, while quite arduous, probably prevented me from being expelled. As is, I was placed on disciplinary probation by my college for apparently violating their student code of conduct by being arrested.

I was initially charged with felony burglary and petit larceny, and the prosecution was adamant that I serve serious jail time, even though I was a first time offender. It took a lot of time and some solid legal work to get to this resolution. Finally, at a court hearing on June 3rd, 2015, with the farm’s manager decked out in filthy muck boots, and practically breathing down my neck, I testified in open court that I visited the farm, documented egregious conditions, and delivered two ducks into lifesaving medical care. The judge imposed an Order of Protection against me in addition to the 30 day jail term on the conditions that the other people on the investigation team and the two rescued ducks would remain safe and free.”

What do you think have been the most important lessons learned from this experience (both personally and politically)? 

Amber Canavan: “Both personally and politically, I had to confront that sometimes what needs to be done has consequences, but you do it anyway. Sometimes there is so great of an opportunity that warrants taking the risk of going to jail. If you think it’s bad for the animals (or the environment or any oppressed group) just from what you’ve seen from video or pictures, I assure you it is far worse. Our urgency to free them should be as acute as their urgency to be free.

There are a million ways to engage in making change that doesn’t include going to jail, but pushing legal boundaries is integral for any social justice struggle. Often the only thing keeping us from making a huge impact is our own hesitations.”

We have talked a bit about your case in relation to others, such as what’s going on in Australia, or ag-gag laws here in the U.S. What do you think that connection is? 

Amber Canavan: “Ag-gag laws are a symptom of the effectiveness of the movement’s use of whistle blowers. As we saw with my case, and many others, such as Patty Mark’s arrest in Australia, prosecutors already have the tools they need to silence and persecute whistle blowers. The prosecution in my case made a big deal about the missing ducks, whose value was a mere $100. Many people believe the real reason I have been prosecuted was the extent of my involvement and openness in advocating for all of the ducks we had to leave behind that night. It was not my actions, but my voice that invited this prosecution. That is what the industry is really worried about, not the loss of a few individual animals.

If a tactic (such as undercover investigations) is too effective at making change, and if that change threatens powerful interests, they will probably find a way to criminalize that tactic. If activists become too bold, they will find a way to scare them into submission, such as with the AETA. That is why tactics need to be ever-evolving, and activists need to cultivate a reserve of courage. As long as activists keep it up, the industry will find other ways to buffer themselves from public scrutiny, but a truth this big can’t stay hidden for long. No matter how much money and power they have, we will always be there to nonviolently intervene.”

What can people do to support you?

Amber Canavan: “I went through all of this to bring some relief for the animals. I would much rather folks do something for the animals in my honor than anything else. I’m only going to be confined for a few weeks, but the animals won’t have that relief unless we stand up for them.

That being said, there are a number of ways to support me while I’m in jail, such as writing, visiting, or sending me reading material. Details for jail support will be posted on my support page at www.facebook.com/supportforamber. Donating to my legal fund by choosing “Animal Cruelty Investigator Legal Defense” at www.aprl.org/contribute.html would also be a huge help.”

Please write Amber while she is in jail:

Delaware County Jail
Suite 6
Attn: Amber Canavan 

280 Phoebe Lane 
Delhi, NY 13753

0.0 ·
0
Trending Today
Obama's Hidden Role in Worsening Climate Change
Stansfield Smith · 10,614 views today · It should be a scandal that leftists-liberals paint Trump as a special threat, a war mongerer – not Obama who is the first president to be at war everyday of his eight years...
Make The Serengeti Great Again | Resource Scarcity, Demagogues and How Creativity Can Trump Hate (2017)
5 min · 3,203 views today · A Familiar Tale of Resource Scarcity, Demagogues, and How Creativity Can Trump Hate A quick, original, illustrated allegory that pokes at the demagogues we’ve got with an...
The Top 100 Documentaries We Can Use to Change the World
Films For Action · 2,507 views today · A more beautiful, just and sustainable world is possible. Take this library and use it to inspire global change!
Baraka (1992)
97 min · 2,355 views today · Featuring no conventional narrative, this film presents footage of people, places and things from around the world. From chaotic cities to barren wilderness, the movie takes...
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 2,016 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
Deconstructing Hierarchies: On Contrived Leadership and Arbitrary Positions of Power
Colin Jenkins · 1,502 views today · Bosses don't grow on trees. They don't magically appear at your job. They aren't born into their roles. They are created. They are manufactured to fulfill arbitrary positions...
What Is a Gift Economy? - Alex Gendler
4 min · 1,387 views today · What if, this holiday season, instead of saying "thank you" to your aunt for her gift of a knitted sweater, the polite response expected from you was to show up at her house in...
Why I Think This World Should End
4 min · 1,126 views today · Sorry if this offends you. - Prince Ea
Union Co-Operatives: What They Are and Why We Need Them
Simon Taylor · 1,080 views today · Neoliberal policies contribute to alienation, disempowerment and non-unionised jobs, but a new model for unions could break the vicious circle, argues Simon Taylor.
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 947 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
How Mindfulness Empowers Us
2 min · 663 views today · Many traditions speak of the opposing forces within us, vying for our attention. Native American stories speak of two wolves, the angry wolf and the loving wolf, who both live...
Prophecy Delivered! Martin Luther King Jr. and the Death of Democracy
Reverend Osagyefo Sekou · 658 views today · “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.” Democracy is dead. It...
The Myth of Romantic Love May Be Ruining Your Health
Susanne Vosmer · 569 views today · Romantic love in Western societies is often portrayed in a stereotypical way: two yearning halves, who search for each other to find their complete, original state. Few find...
Trump: The Illusion of Change
Helena Norberg-Hodge · 536 views today · “Only by restoring the broken connections can we be healed.” — Wendell Berry
Dinosaur explains Trump policies better than Trump!
8 min · 339 views today · Donald Trump is actually the corporate triceratops, Mr. Richfield, from the 90's TV show sitcom, "Dinosaurs". 
Bertrand Russell & Buckminster Fuller on Why We Should Work Less, and Live & Learn More
Josh Jones · 331 views today · Why must we all work long hours to earn the right to live? Why must only the wealthy have a access to leisure, aesthetic pleasure, self-actualization…? Everyone seems to have...
Why It's Crucial for Women to Heal the Mother Wound
Bethany Webster · 315 views today · The issue at the core of women’s empowerment is the mother wound
Forget Shorter Showers: Why Personal Change Does Not Equal Political Change (2015)
11 min · 297 views today · Would any sane person think dumpster diving would have stopped Hitler, or that composting would have ended slavery or brought about the eight-hour workday; or that chopping...
Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss: Bracing for Trump's Anti-Worker, Corporate Agenda
Colin Jenkins · 293 views today · Rich people don’t have to have a life-and-death relationship with the truth and its questions; they can ignore the truth and still thrive materially. I am not surprised many...
Trump Is a Symptom of a Sickness That Is Raging All Across The World
1 min · 278 views today · This is why we are here. And this is what we need to remember. 
Load More
What's Next
Like us on Facebook?
Investigator Speaks As She Heads to Jail for Exposing Factory Farm Cruelty