After over four years of our court case dragging on, my co-defendants and I are scheduled to go on trial Sept. 8 in Sonoma County, California. We are facing dozens of criminal charges, including eight felonies, for nonviolent animal rescues. Growing up, I prided myself on following the rules. I was a straight-A student and faithful Catholic. My teachers trusted me so much they let me teach the class. Today, I’ve been arrested multiple times as part of a group that’s being surveilled by the FBI. It might surprise you to know I still love following rules and doing what is right, but my understanding of what’s right has changed.
The not-guilty verdict—a landmark decision establishing the legal "right to rescue" distressed animals in need of care—is "the culmination of a more than five-year pursuit that multiple agencies, including the FBI and the Utah attorney general's office," The Intercept's Marina Bolotnikova reported. As Bolotnikova noted, the case "began after the activists published undercover footage revealing gruesome conditions at Smithfield, the nation's largest pork producer," in violation of Utah's 2012 ag-gag law criminalizing the collection of evidence of animal abuse and other illegal activities on factory farms. Wayne Hsiung and Paul Picklesimer, members of the animal rights group Direct Action Everywhere (DxE), rescued two dangerously underweight piglets, whom they named Lily and Lizzie, from Circle Four Farms in Beaver County in March 2017.
More than 70 animal rights activists stood outside a courtroom in St. George, Utah on Tuesday holding up a giant image of Utah Attorney Gen. Sean Reyes. A word bubble hovered above his head saying “I cover up animal cruelty.” The group had gathered in support of whistleblowers Wayne Hsiung and Paul Darwin Picklesimer of Direct Action Everywhere, or DxE, a global network of activists working to achieve revolutionary social and political change for animals in one generation. Both currently face felony burglary and theft charges that could amount to over 10 years in prison. In March 2017 Hsiung, Picklesimer and three other DxE investigators infiltrated Smithfield-owned Circle Four Farms in Utah to document the conditions of its pregnant pigs.
Abbotsford, B.C., Canada – It’s been three years since two hundred animal rights advocates descended on the Excelsior Hog Farm on April 28, 2019 “to expose the reality of what is happening to the victims of the ‘meat’ industry and to challenge the current mindset within our society,” according to the activist group Meat The Victims. Over a year later, a total of four activists were facing multiple charges, however today, three of them stand trial at the end of June 2022. During the farm action, approximately 50 of the activists got inside the building where they witnessed deceased pigs in a dumpster, pigs laying on the ground unable to get up because of injuries, and “row upon row of pregnant pigs crammed inside metal crates the size of their own bodies, unable to even turn around or move for months on end.”
An Iowa judge upheld one of the state’s “ag-gag” laws in a case brought against an animal rights activist, hours before dismissing all charges. In Iowa, a person may be criminalized for “food operation trespass” if they enter or remain on the property of a factory farm “without the consent of a person who has real or apparent authority to allow the person to enter or remain on the property.” Matt Johnson, an investigator with the grassroots animal rights network Direct Action Everywhere (DxE), was charged with violating the ag-gag law after he exposed the extermination of pigs by Iowa Select Farms. He argued the law is “actually intended to punish individuals for expressing viewpoints disfavored by the Iowa legislature” and reminded the court that a similar Iowa ag-gag law was previously ruled unconstitutional by a federal court.
Environmental activits are blockading four McDonald's distribution centres in a bid to stop deliveries to the fast food giant’s restaurants across the country this weekend. Animal Rebellion say that some 50 demonstrators have used trucks and bamboo towers to stop lorries leaving depots in Hemel Hempstead, Basingstoke, Coventry and Heywood in Greater Manchester. They have poured fake animal blood over signage with some protesters dressed as the chain’s mascot, Ronald McDonald. Demonstrators say they are targeting the chain because of its “role in the climate emergency" and are demanding McDonald’s – which has 1,300 restaurants across the UK – commits to being fully plant-based by 2025.
The two Lummi Nation tribal members working for the release and return of the captive orca Sk'aliCh'elh-tenaut (also known as Tokitae or her stage name, Lolita) announced today that they will be legally represented by Earth Law Center. The virtual press conference will be live streamed, and available at http://facebook.com/pg/OurSacredSea. "Our Lummi term for orca is qwe'lhol'mechen, which means our relations under the water," explained Squil-le-he-le (Raynell Morris), one of the Lummi women involved. "Sk'aliCh'elh-tenaut is part of our community, our family. It's our Xa xalh Xechnging (sacred obligation) to bring our relation out of captivity at Miami Seaquarium, to bring her safely home to Xw'ullemy (the Salish Sea)." Last July, Squil-le-he-le and Tah-Mahs (Ellie Kinley) announced their intent to sue Miami Seaquarium. Sk'aliCh'elh-tenaut is a member of Sk'aliCh'elh, which is the Lummi family name for the Southern Resident Killer Whale population. The Lummi people are bound by culture and kinship ties to Sk'aliCh'elh, and have been in a reciprocal relationship with them since time immemorial. "She was taken from her family and her culture when she was just a child, like so many of our children were taken from us and placed in Indian boarding schools. Reuniting her with her family, reuniting her with us, helps make us all whole," explained Tah-Mahs. “We are humbled with the trust that's been placed in us.” said Michelle Bender, Ocean Rights Manager at the Earth Law Center. “At the foundation of Earth law and the Rights of Nature movement is the Indigenous worldview that we are a part of, not separate from, Nature and all of its species and elements. By legally representing our sisters and brothers, we hope to shed light on this truth that has been lost from Western society." Dr. Kurt Russo, who has spent decades working to Indigenize policy frameworks, said, "This is a game changer. We're meeting Miami Seaquarium where they are, in the Western legal sphere. Earth Law Center is perfectly positioned to represent Tah-Mahs and Squil-le-he-le in their efforts to repatriate their relation." "We're at a time when we all need healing," Tah-Mas added. "We're all family, qwe'lhol'mechen and Lummi people. What happens to them, happens to us." # # # Earth Law Center (www.earthlawcenter.org) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit environmental law organization working around the world to transform the law to recognize, honor and protect nature's inherent rights to exist, thrive and evolve. ELC partners with frontline indigenous people and communities to challenge the overarching legal and economic systems that reward environmental harm, and advance governance systems that maximize social and ecological well-being. For more information on Sk'aliCh'elh-tenaut, go to www.sacredsea.org
Animal Rights Activists Face Multiple Felony Charges, Brought By Prosecutors With Ties to Smithfield Foods
The first criminal case, reported by The Intercept last month, was brought by Sanpete County Attorney Kevin Daniels. It charges six activists with two felony charges that, at least as provided by the cited statutes, carry possible prison terms of five years each. That case arises out of the filming of horrific conditions at an industrial farm that supplies turkeys to Norbest, a large company that aggressively markets itself to the public as selling “mountain grown” turkeys who are treated with particularly humane care. Norbest is now owned by a supplier of Whole Foods. Last year, the activists entered the facility and filmed the horrifying conditions in which the turkeys were encaged. The activists also rescued three severely sick and injured turkeys who were on the brink of death, brought them to a veterinarian for medical care, and then to a sanctuary to live.
Yellowstone National Park, Gardiner Basin, MT - Early this morning, Buffalo Field Campaign patrols in Gardiner discovered “some interesting events” taking place at the access road to Yellowstone’s highly controversial Stephens Creek buffalo trap. BFC reported seeing a lot of law enforcement and some yellow barrels blocking the road. A short time later, a press release from the Wild Buffalo Defense collective appeared on Facebook, announcing that two of their members had locked down to three concrete-filled barrels in an attempt to block slaughter trucks from accessing the trap and transporting wild buffalo to slaughter facilities.
Yellowstone National Park, Gardiner, MT - This morning, a press release issued on Facebook by an emerging group, Wild Buffalo Defense, revealed that two members of Wild Buffalo Defense locked down inside Yellowstone National Park’s highly controversial Stephens Creek buffalo trap. The individuals secured themselves to “The Silencer,” the squeeze chute that holds wild buffalo for testing and other invasive procedures, before they are shipped off to slaughter facilities.
By Natasha Frost for Atlas Obscura. During his life and after his death, many people, Rediker says, thought of Benjamin Lay as deranged. “[Historians] thought he was not sane, and this was a very effective way of putting him at the margins.” Ableism, too, seems to have factored in this general unwillingness to take him seriously. But some of those in the abolitionist movement did feel the need to celebrate this “Quaker comet,” as he came to be known. Benjamin Rush, one of his earliest biographers, said Lay was known to virtually everyone in Pennsylvania; his curious portrait was said to hang in many Philadelphia homes. This early abolitionist burned bright, and, despite his exclusion from many abolitionist narratives, refuses to be extinguished from history.
By EarthJustice. WASHINGTON - The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has released a draft environmental impact statement that concludes seismic surveys for oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of Mexico would cause significant harm to marine mammals. The long-awaited review comes in response to a court-ordered settlement of a lawsuit brought by environmental groups. The analysis finds that as many as 31.9 million marine mammals in the Gulf of Mexico will be injured and harassed by oil and gas seismic surveys. This includes 80 percent of the Gulf’s endangered sperm whale population, estimated at 763 animals. Sperm whales will experience as many as 760,000 harassing exposures to airgun blasting over the next decade. The draft estimates that seismic blasting would cause as many as 588 injuries to the Gulf’s Bryde’s whales—of which only 33 individuals remain—or about 17 times for each member of this imperiled population.
By Charlotte Klein for The Huffington Post - A Hillary Clinton rally in Las Vegas was briefly halted Thursday afternoon by a group of animal rights activists who accused the candidate of not sticking to her own platform. The Democratic presidential nominee appeared momentarily shaken by the interruption before at least four Secret Service agents joined her onstage. After a few seconds, Clinton addressed the crowd with a laugh. “Apparently these people are here to protest Trump because Trump and his kids have killed a lot of animals,” she said. “So thank you for making that point.”
By Tom Levitt for The Guardian - The fast food chain Subway is latest to join the backlash against antibiotic use in the farm sector. It has launched a new chicken sandwich in the US made with meat from animals raised without antibiotics. The move is a sign of the growing consumer and business interest in the welfare and environmental impact of animals reared for meat, dairy and eggs, with most of the blame directed at intensive, factory-style farms. Hoping to echo the success of the fossil fuel divestment movement (which has seen more than 400 institutions commit to pulling money from coal, oil and gas companies to tackle climate change)...