Two animal rights activists were indicted on federal charges this week after they allegedly freed 2,000 animals from a fur farm in Illinois last August. Many of the animals they freed actually ended up dying once out of captivity.
Tyler Lang and Kevin Johnson, who also goes by Kevin Olliff, both from California, were served two counts of conspiracy and interstate travel to interfere with an animal enterprise, according to the Los Angeles Times, after they trespassed and released mink from the Morris, Illinois, farm. They also are accused of defacing a barn with the words “Liberation is love” and vandalizing vehicles on the property as well.
The pair will be arraigned in court on July 29, facing a maximum punishment of five years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines. According to Green Is the New Red, the charges are for violations of the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act. This act, signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2006, makes it punishable to do “economic damage to animal enterprises” and to make “threats of death and serious bodily injury to associated persons.”
For these charges, Lang was arrested and later released on bail in California, while Johnson was already in custody in Illinois, serving a 30-month sentence for having burglary tools that he was accused of planning to use to break into a fox farm.
Darren Caley, who lives near the mink farm, told the Chicago Sun-Times many of the animals ended up dying after their “liberation.”
“A lot of them got hit by cars, and a lot we found in a corn field dead. They were hand-reared and didn’t know how to hunt so many of them starved to death,” he said.
The Los Angles Times reported that Lang and Johnson planned to release other animals at facilities in the Midwest as well as part of “Freedom Summer,” which resulted in thousands of animals being freed from farms that supply them to fur manufacturers.
“It’s easy to get caught up in the drama law enforcement tries to create for us. And it’s easy to lose yourself in some the issues surrounding this movement … but it’s not about us or them at all. It’s about injustice — and about what we can do to stop it,” Lang said, according to the group Support Kevin and Tyler.
The group believes the timing of the federal charges was meant to coicide with the National Animal Rights Conference and another event.
“It was the FBI’s blatant and clumsy attempt to scare activists, create divisiveness and deter Tyler and others from the above-ground activism they practice,” Support Kevin and Tyler’s website stated. “But word of the incident spread quickly — not only among attendees at the LA conference, but throughout the country’s network of animal advocates — and one thing is resoundingly clear: We’re angry, but we’re not shaken.”