Animal Rights Extremist and DxE Co-founder Wayne Hsiung Found Guilty of Multiple Crimes by Jury in Sonoma County, California

By Jaclyn De Candio for Protect The Harvest

Wayne Hsiung, co-founder of the animal rights extremist group Direct Action Everywhere (DxE), was found guilty of a felony conspiracy charge and two criminal misdemeanors in Sonoma County, California, court on November 2, 2023. DxE is known for employing tactics that include trespassing, stealing livestock, poultry, and lab animals, and breaking and entering into private properties in the name of animal “open rescue.” DxE was founded in Berkeley, California, in 2013, with its goal of ending animal agriculture, animal ownership, and most human-animal interaction.

The Sonoma County, California, jurors reached their verdict on an “open rescue” incident at two poultry operations, Sunrise Farms and Reichardt Duck Farm, which occurred in 2018 and 2019, respectively. The misdemeanors were both for trespassing, one of which includes “the intent to disrupt a lawful business,” in addition to one felony charge of conspiracy to commit trespass. DxE’s website is currently treating Hsiung as a martyr, as he’s in jail until his November 30, 2023, sentencing, instead of the common criminal he was found to be.

Hsiung’s criminal history

This isn’t Hsiung’s first time in court, as he has previously been charged with crimes in Utah, Colorado, and North Carolina, all related to animal rights extremist activities. In 2017, Hsiung and DxE extremists stole pigs from a Smithfield hog farm and released them to sanctuaries. As a result, those responsible for the theft were indicted on multiple felony and misdemeanor charges.

Also in 2017, Hsiung founded the Berkeley Animal Rights Center, the first U.S. community center dedicated to animal extremist activities. He was also a featured speaker at the Animal Liberation Conference. A year later, Hsiung was charged by a Colorado court for threatening bodily injury to someone at a Whole Foods during an in-store protest.

Hsiung was found guilty of two additional felonies in 2021 in the state of North Carolina when he stole a goat from a small farm, escaping punishment with a suspended sentence, 24 months of probation, and a payout to the farmer for the goat’s value.

In a live-stream of this particular crime, Hsiung stated:

“One of the reasons we’re doing this today is because we want to show the world – whether it’s factory farmed or it’s from a small-scale farm – [that] these animals don’t deserve to die, and we believe killing an animal intentionally is criminal animal cruelty.”

Law degree in hand, Hsiung always tries to frame his actions as being necessary to “save” animals, failing to acknowledge theft and trespassing are requisites to achieve his goals. Clearly, Hsiung believes the rule of law does not apply while trying to save chickens, pigs, goats, and other food animals from being used for that purpose.

“Hsiung described his actions, and those of the hundreds of other activists that took part, as akin to breaking a car window to rescue a child or pet trapped in a car on a hot day. He cited a section of California law, code 597e, as a legal justification to take birds he says were sick and dying for veterinary care,” reads a Northern California Public Media article.

Under this philosophy, the only person who needs to determine whether an animal is in need of “rescuing” is the person who is committing the act without any veterinary oversight. Hsiung is not an animal science or welfare expert. He studied political science, behavioral law, and economics. His personal beliefs about animal extremism stem from his personal life, Buddhist religion, and influence by other extremist leaders such as Patty Mark of Animal Liberation Victoria.

“Open rescue” needs to be prosecuted as a crime

In his Substack newsletter, Hsiung wrote of this particular matter:

“I do not regret or apologize for my actions because that little bird needed help, as do so many others.”

A co-owner of Sunrise Farms said in court that there were no sick and injured animals in the buildings at the time of the break-in.

DxE is framing the case as a matter whether “people have the right to rescue animals in distress” from these farms, even when they have no knowledge or experience in animal agriculture, animal science, or animal welfare. It should be noted two other extremists were also on trial in Sonoma County, one of whose case was dismissed and the other who accepted a plea deal, both of which are all too common results in these cases.

Hsiung, however, will be staying in custody until his November 30th sentencing. According to a DxE statement, he does have plans to appeal the decision.

For a decade, Hsiung and DxE have been blazing a trail of extreme, illegal, and dangerous activities against farms and other animal-focused businesses. Repeatedly, DxE extremists have negotiated light sentences or avoided justice altogether. Hopefully, this ruling and sentencing will set a standard for other courts to use as a template for mitigating additional criminal acts against law-abiding businesses across America.

Protect The Harvest will continue to keep you informed about animal rights extremist developments such as the Sonoma County Court verdict as we promote and defend A Free and Fed America™.


More about DxE HERE

Utah stands against DxE HERE

More about the threat DxE poses HERE

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