Florida's "Ag Gag" Bill Won't Stop Local Activist From Recording Animal Abuse

Categories: News, WTF Florida

couto.jpg
Richard "Kudo" Couto
A bill that would criminalize undercover footage of animal farms and slaughter facilities is on the floor of the State Senate, and has a good chance of being passed into law. Which means it would be up to only licensed law enforcement officials to discover abuses on local farms. Which means, frankly, that Miami-Dade farm animals-- and the people who want to know what they're eating-- are shit out of luck.

Nowhere like this county has the undercover footage of one activist made such an impact. Richard "Kudo" Couto's videos of illegal slaughter forced the mass-shuttering of the entire C-9 District after county officials and cops had ignored the area for years. And in November, butchers at a Hialeah farm were charged with felony animal abuse as a result of Couto filming hogs being bludgeoned with hammers and cows having their heads slowly sawed off.

The bill would make such civilian-recorded footage inadmissible to police investigations-- not to mention get Couto arrested. "It's a real back-track for the welfare of these animals," he says of the potential law. "People don't really know what's going on behind farm gates in this state unless they see video."

Republican Tampa Senator Jim Norman openly admits that he drafted the bill at the behest of an agriculture industry honcho: Wilton Simpson, a Pasco County egg farmer who produces 21 million eggs annually. Separately, Norman is currently the target of an ethics hearing concerning a $500,000 gift from a political benefactor his family used to buy an Arkansas vacation home.

This is Norman's second attempt at passing the bill, which was rejected last year for language that would have made photographing a farm a felony. The crime would now be a misdemeanor.

But even if the law passes, don't expect Couto to put away the hidden camera. "There's no way that I'm going to stop going into slaughterhouses and making footage," says the animal activist, "regardless of what the law states."

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18 comments
Explorer19552001
Explorer19552001

If these places didn't have something to hide these laws wouldn't be enacted. Its just a way for big business to break the law. No? , the activists or watchdogs have a solid place and shooting footage of violations should NOT be against the law. The government and big business is wrong in this...totally wrong.

Kayleesmeme1
Kayleesmeme1

Totally disgusting how cruelly animals are treated. Im so sick of our lawmakers not researching what goes on and lines their pockets. Hey, how about you slaughter your own meat? So glad In vegetarian and don't drink milk. And Fl should be ashamed. I live her, but miving back to Maine.

Suzanne Bryant
Suzanne Bryant

I will NEVER go on vacation to Florida again!  Being from New Hampshire, my family regularly spends a week in Florida ever winter dropping a few thousand along the way.  Forget about it!!  Never ever ever ever again will Florida get a dollar of my hard earned money!  Ever.  Florida, I hope you hear me!!!  Get this corrupt politician out of office and kill this bill and I might be willing to forgive you.

Trottx
Trottx

Couto needs to be deputized!

Dorothy Stone
Dorothy Stone

Is it possible for someone good at computers to create a macro kind of form that will blast emails to their reps asking that they say no to this bill? Those auto-form things where you just fill in your basic info and the program figures out who to send it to from your address? And cc Norman, of course! If we had that and posted a link on our collective facebooks it might get a lot of responses going...

Beverly Levitt
Beverly Levitt

I spent over an hour on the phone with his office this past Wednesday. His assistant staunchly protects this bill and has NO clue about horse slaughter. Continued to tell me it does not protect criminal activity. Sadly Norman managed to soak up my area into his district this December. I am now district 12 instead of 10. He just found a person in his take over that will fight his re-election with gusto. This bill is just a further squelch on our Whistle blowers act and a corrupt act to protect criminals. I am beyond furious.

paloma
paloma

Why would the public allow a law that would encourage illegal behavior.  the public wouldn't. this is all backdoor dealing and smells of payoffs.  This bill needs to get shut down NOW.  Florida should not find itself in the position to be the poster child for animal abuse and downright sadistic behavior.  Not very tourist friendly.

Easterli
Easterli

The bill didn't pass last session. Call your legislators and tell them you oppose it - ask them to vote against it.

Brandy
Brandy

This is not acceptable   :(  They are trying to protect the ones doing the wrong !!!  If you have nothing to hide in the cover of darkness...Why...would any problem exist...when it comes to being accountable....for how these innocent animals are treated ?  Hello ?? Sounds to me like they are  getting  some sort of totally sick thrill out of harming the innocent !! Kudo...Crazy Days are here...and Right is considered Wrong....I am continuing to hold you in my prayers & Heartfelt Thank You...for all that you have done & continue to do...for the sake & love of our " Innocent Animals ".  You are  " Awesome "   :)

Lizogrodnik74
Lizogrodnik74

this is the most ridiculous news I am ashamed of our government!

tania
tania

I can't believe that Florida will allow this. These paid off politicians should take off their rose colored glasses, and realize their prosecuting THE WRONG PEOPLE! Theres an "open space" law, in my state that allows people to film you if you are within their view, including private property! Funny, Florida once was known for Disney World, and oddly enough Jim Norman is the Mad Hatter. Good will triumph over evil...It has to, this is horrific.

nanook5
nanook5

the question is, is he still too much of a quasi-celebrity to get treated like a terrorist like many other south florida animal rights activists?

Lee Sackett
Lee Sackett

Hay Richard...looks like we'll be sharing a cell together. 80)

Stephen Anderson
Stephen Anderson

Again I say it's all about money not animal welfare.I'm 100% vegan and wont have anything to do with animal made products.My good friend Bob Barker has taken a stand on this with his new commercial.I understand that there are some non cruel farms for vegetarians.I believe this is a violation of my civil rights to know where the food is coming from and no cruelty is going on.If they have nothing to hide why are they making such a stink about it.And giving so much money to politics.

Julian
Julian

this is very shameful

Ana Campos
Ana Campos

We'll see about that Senator Jim Norman. You're bought and paid for by an egg farmer. Shame on you. This bill has no merit. The animal rights community votes and knows how to use their voice. He lost last time. He'll lose this time. Crooked, illegal and corrupt factory farms in Florida  won't win. 

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