Utah Jury Decision Gives Green Light to Animal Extremist Activities

Jury Decision Gives Green Light to Dangerous Animal Extremist Activities

In October 2022, the war against animal extremist activism took a particularly threatening turn when two Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) members were acquitted of felony burglary charges. In 2017, five DxE members, including founder Wayne Hsiung, trespassed and broke into Smithfield’s Circle Four Farms in Utah, then stole two piglets in the name of “open rescue.” Three of the DxE perpetrators made plea bargains, but Hsiung and Paul Picklesimer pursued their cases.

Victory for “The Right to Rescue”

Their acquittal was widely celebrated by the animal extremist community since it set an extremely dangerous precedent by legally establishing that blatant trespassing and theft are not necessarily crimes. Some believe that the acquittal came partially because the piglets’ dollar value of $42.20 each was inconsequential to Smithfield, which is a subsidiary of the multibillion-dollar Hong Kong-based company: WH Group. Regardless, animal extremists have been greatly emboldened by the acquittal. They have called it a “victory for the right to rescue” across the spectrum of animal enterprises from multibillion-dollar companies to small hobby farms.

Be Vigilant – It Can Happen Anywhere

Following the trial, Hsiung brazenly stated, “They just let a guy who walked into a factory farm and took two piglets out without the consent of Smithfield walk out of the courtroom free. If it can happen in southern Utah, it can happen anywhere.”
Hsiung and his ilk are doing everything they can to make their criminal activities a widespread reality for animal owners across the country. Everyone involved in animal industries needs to be extremely concerned and vigilant.

Project Counterglow – Doxxing Website

A DxE offshoot called Project Counterglow publicly provides a detailed map of tens of thousands of animal agriculture and research facilities. Further, the Project Counterglow website states that they will “provide assistance with every stage of the process, from deciding on a focus and destination, route planning, recruitment, preparation, conducting the trip, and follow up steps to make sure it achieves the maximum value for the animals.”

Protect The Harvest has been warning producers and animal owners about the Project Counterglow doxing website for several years.

Right to Rescue Workshops

Additionally, DxE is now hosting workshops to instruct aspiring extremists on how to trespass, steal, and get away the crimes in a court of law. The combination of the Utah ruling, Project Counterglow, and these so-called “rescue” workshops offer a dire glimpse of what’s to come.

One of the workshops is being promoted as teaching “the entire process of planning and executing an open rescue – from scouting targets to defending activists at trial.” According to DxE, participants will join a mock “rescue team” in a simulated “effort to expose cruelty and give aid to sick and dying animals.” The training reportedly will draw the simulations from “real events,” including the Utah trial and acquittal.

DxE asserted that at the conclusion of the workshop, participants will have “a comprehensive understanding of what it takes to pull off an open rescue; practiced the storytelling skills necessary to effectively share the stories of rescue with the world; and learned how to organize a rescue to maximize its legal and political impact, including setting yourself up for trial.” The workshop is limited to only 20 participants and activists are required to pre-register for a spot. The location of the event is not disclosed until participants have registered. Additionally, DxE encouraged participants to give monetary donations toward the event.

Open Rescue Legal Workshops

Another workshop they offer focuses on the Utah trial and its implications for the animal extremist movement. As Hsiung stated in his blog, “The Smithfield trial establishes what is the most promising strategy for revolutionary social change for animals…” The description of this event serves as a stark reminder of just how deranged and dangerous animal extremist ideology is, and how tightly it is interwoven with environmental extremism. The description states:
“Recent acquittals of activists engaged in open rescues raise new issues regarding the nature of animal personhood. Rather than civil litigation, could the deappropriation of nonhumans lie in the nexus between permissible property, and permissible rescue? What is the nature of open rescue law and practice, and how does it extend nonhuman personhood, perhaps in ways that might apply in other contexts of citizen action, such as efforts to inappropriate nonhumanity and rewild the Earth as the best defense against the climate crisis?”

Being Proactive and Prepared is Crucial for Animal Owners

It is daunting to realize that the extremist mentality is something that animal owners, especially livestock producers, may very likely have to face, regardless of the quality of care they provide. However, even in the face of such crazed ideology, you are not helpless. Being prepared and proactive is crucial. It is vital that you know your legal rights as an animal owner. You must also ensure that you have cultivated good relationships with your local law enforcement. A variety of security measures can be implemented, depending on what is appropriate for your location and individual operation.

At Protect The Harvest, we do our best to keep the public informed and aware of the threats to our food security and cherished American way of life. However, simply being informed is not enough; involvement is needed.

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