Hip hop is not a crime: Lyrics used as evidence in mink release case
Satirical hip hop lyrics, more used as evidence in mink release case.
Since Animal Enterprise Terrorism charges were filed against Kevin Olliff & Tyler Lang in July, the FBI has released new information outlining the evidence against them.
In August 2013, the pair were pulled over eight miles from a fox farm in rural Illinois. The night before, 2,000 mink were released from a fur farm several hours away, in Morris, Illinois. Both were charged with and plead guilty to “Possession of Burglary Tools” for various items found in their vehicle, the most “serious” of which was a pair of wire cutters.
A year later, in July 2014, the two were charged on the federal level on charges of “Animal Enterprise Terrorism” for the Illinois mink release.
New evidence unveiled last week
The lawyer for Kevin Olliff filed a motion for release on bail last week, prompting the government to file an 11-page response that gives the first glimpse into specific evidence being used against them. Among the most absurd: satirical hip hop lyrics and baseball hats.
- “Animal extremist” publications.” Quote:
“A flash drive which contained two known and widely circulated publications amongst animal rights extremists. Agents reviewed the publications, which revealed that the authors of the publications advocated the release of minks and foxes from fur farms and also advocated vandalism of the farms. The publications set forth instructions on how to accomplish the release of the animals, including by suggesting the use of new bolt cutters for each act of vandalism, to turn off cellular telephones leading up to and during the act of vandalism, and to obtain police radio scanners to detect law enforcement presence in the area.”
- Lists of fur farms.
- “Cutting tools, bolt cutters, and smaller snips”
- Cell phones that records show were “turned off in the days leading up to the mink farm vandalism.”
- A radio frequency scanner. Quote:
“A search of the radio frequency scanner recovered from the vehicle determined that the radio had been set to detect radio frequencies used by law enforcement in both Morris, Illinois, and Woodford County, Illinois.”
- “Items consistent with committing a vandalism” (sic) including rubber gloves, ski masks, ball caps, bolt cutters, and miscellaneous cutters.
- Aircraft paint remover.
- Various books.
- “Mink fur” traces recovered from clothing.
The most outlandish of the claims
The most erroneous of the government’s claims is that acid, bleach and peroxide allegedly found in the car are “necessary components to build an incendiary device.” The specific quote:
Five bottles of muriatic acid; two bottles of Clorox bleach; one container of hydrogen peroxide. These substances taken together are necessary components to build an incendiary device.
A cursory Google search (which I don’t recommend on your home compuster) shows this claim to be completely false. These are simply not ingredients in incendiary devices.
The government doesn’t hesitate to use conspiracy charges against suspects, and if they could in any way substantiate their claim there was an arson plot, or even that the items found could be used in one, they would have done so.
Hip hop is not a crime: Satirical rap lyrics used as evidence
In an odd lack of concern for looking stupid, the FBI is attempting to use a handwritten note allegedly retrieved from Kevin’s pants pocket, containing satirical hip hop lyrics.
An (edited) sample:
“According to the courts, I’m doing something deeply illegal.
So many warrants I’m bored of ducking police vehicles.
The devil told me that I’m fundamentally evil.
I get my protein when I hunt and eat people.
Sicker than a vivisector stuck with a diseased needle..
My only vegan recipes start with gasoline and diesel.”
While the FBI has never been accused of having a sense of humor, or being versed in hip hop, they should either:
- Get clued in to traditional lyrical stylings of rap music, which these lampooning rhymes are consistent with, or-
- Be consistent and criminally indict every hip hop artist using criminal-themed fantasy lyrics since the beginning of recorded rap music in 1979.
The issue of rap lyrics being used in criminal cases has been put before the courts many times, as an NPR story from August covers well: “Court Says Rap Lyrics Can’t Be Used As Evidence In A Criminal Trial.”
To quote a lawyer interviewed in the above article:
“One would not presume that Bob Marley, who wrote the well-known song ‘I Shot the Sheriff,’ actually shot a sheriff, or that Edgar Allan Poe buried a man beneath his floorboards, as depicted in his short story ‘The Tell-Tale Heart,’ simply because of their respective artistic endeavors on those subjects.”
Later this year, the Supreme Court is set to take up this issue when it hears arguments in a case in which rap lyrics were used in a man’s conviction.
Other details revealed
The government is claiming 400 of the 2,000 mink released in Morris, Illinois were not recovered. These figures are always to be considered extremely suspect, as they originate from the fur farmers themselves.
The government motion also gives a look at the impact of even a “small” mink release, particularly the expense of lost breeding data, and that the financial impact of a mink release extends far beyond the animals not recovered:
Even for the recovered mink, however, the farmers were harmed in that they were unable to determine the original breed for re-sale. The damage to the mink, which was the sole livelihood of the farm, together with the physical damage to the vehicles, the barn, and the fence, devastated the farmers, resulting in a loss in excess of $125,000.
Kevin’s release uncertain
The judge has yet to rule on the dueling motions, which determine whether he will be released on bail at the conclusion of his state sentence on October 15th.
Stay up to date on developments in the case on the Support Kevin & Tyler website.