A vegan activist has been arrested and charged with two felonies and a misdemeanor after removing three sick piglets from a factory farm in North Carolina.
Sierra Liliann Post, 20, a resident of Concord, NC, was arrested charged with breaking and entering, and larceny - both felonies, and first-degree trespass - a misdemeanor, on Friday, after entering the Smithfield Foods-owned farm in Laurinburg last year. She was later released on $3000 bail.
Post, who was investigating the facility with animal rights network Direct Action Everywhere (DxE), appeared in District Court at the Scotland County Courthouse on August 22.
According to a spokesperson for DxE, Post's arrest follows the group's May release of its video footage of its eight-month investigation into several Smithfield facilities in North Carolina. Post can be seen on the video removing a piglet.
It also follows the arrest of five DxE activists - including the group's Co-founder Wayne Hsiung - earlier this year. The five were charged with felonies after removing a piglet they described as 'starving' from a Smithfield-owned farm in Utah.
DxE Co-founder Wayne Hsiung said of the charges: "This is an attempt at intimidation of nonviolent activism. When an animal is being mistreated, whether a dog, a cat or a pig, they deserve compassion. Those who help a suffering animal should be praised and not punished."
According to the group: "DxE investigators believe the charges against them are meant to intimidate animal rights activists and cause them to stop investigating farms and exposing the animal abuse they find at those farms.
"Recent reports show that hundreds of thousands of dollars have exchanged hands, from Smithfield to prosecutors across the nation, and that prosecutors in some cases have been retained by the agriculture industry. "
Writing in The Intercept, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald, said: "These charges raise serious questions about whether prosecutors are attempting to unconstitutionally punish the activists for filming, documenting, and exposing abuses by the agricultural industry that dominates the state, and particularly whether the prosecutors have acted with improper motives because of their own extensive ties to that industry."
Speaking to Plant Based News about DxE and the charges against multiple activists earlier this year, a spokesperson for Smithfield said: "At Smithfield Foods, the care and safety of our animals is a top priority. In an abundance of concern for our animals’ wellbeing, we immediately launched an investigation and completed a third-party audit after learning of an illegally obtained undercover video alleging mistreatment and mishandling of animals on a company-owned hog farm in Milford, Utah.
"The audit results show no findings of animal mistreatment. Based on the review of our animal care experts, the video appears to be highly edited and even staged in an attempt to manufacture an animal care issue where one does not exist.
"The video features blatant inaccuracies and assertions, which could not be farther from the truth. The video’s creators, who claim to be animal care advocates, risked the life of the animal they stole and the lives of the animals living on our farms by trespassing and violating our strict biosecurity policy that prevents the spread of disease.
"This policy is particularly critical to the wellbeing of our piglets – the animals they claim to be rescuing."