'We Were Arrested And Held On $1 Million Bond' - A Vegan Activist Speaks Out

Activists from global animal rights network Direct Action Everywhere have been documenting animal suffering on factory farms - and some have run into legal troubles
Vegan activist Priya Sawhney
Vegan activist Priya Sawhney

At the 2018 Animal Liberation Conference, I joined 500 activists in converging on a Petaluma, California egg farm which supplies to Whole Foods. Brutal conditions were exposed to a global audience via social and mainstream media. 40 activists were arrested during an act of civil disobedience, and 37 precious hens were removed from a life of torment and granted the lives they deserve at a sanctuary.

The ALC is just one way Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) follows in the footsteps of successful social movements of the past to build communities of trained activists to take action and drive change for animals.

We followed up on the ALC mass action at another Petaluma farm in September 2018. 150 of us arrived to document the living conditions of the birds, and to provide sick and injured hens with water. We also attempted to rescue several hens in need of emergency care.

Arrested

However, when the police arrived, they took away all-but-one of the hens from the activists and turned them over to Sonoma Animal Services, who later killed the birds. The sheriff's deputies permitted us to save one hen, who we named Rose. The police then arrested me and 57 other activists - including many who never entered a barn - on multiple felony charges, and held them on an outrageous bond of over $1 million in total. Again, that's 58 activists charged with multiple felonies, and held on over a million dollar bond, for trying to help dying animals.

The Sonoma District Attorney Jill Ravitch reviewed the Animal Services report, the police report, and the evidence that the farm owners threatened to kill protesters. She somehow concluded that the activists, and not the farm, should be hit with serious charges.

Ravitch has called her approach to the situation 'even-handed'.

'Discrediting activists'

These cases are merely the latest in a systematic effort by various organizations to flex their political influence and abuse the legal system to disparage and discredit peaceful activists as criminals.

These draconian prosecutions are backfiring, triggering unprecedented media attention and societal dialogue around animals, while inspiring unprecedented numbers of grassroots activists to proudly and openly walk into farms to rescue animals.

DxE activists are now facing felony or equivalent charges in six separate cases in North Carolina, Utah, California, and Ontario, Canada. A win in even one would be a key early domino in establishing that animals are legal persons, and pave the way for truly transformative change.

Event

But winning for animals in the court of law, and in the court of public opinion, requires support on the ground - support from ordinary compassionate people like you.

The 2019 Animal Liberation Conference is happening May 29 - June 4 in Berkeley, California. We're expecting over 2000 in attendance at the annual conference for grassroots, nonviolent animal activists. The ALC is a full week of talks, trainings, and socials all aimed at making you the best animal activist you can possibly be. And of course, we will be taking mass actions as have become our M.O. With the continual upswell of inspired activism, our historic actions at ALC 2019 will be bigger and bolder than ever before.

Register today to secure your spot on the front lines of animal rights history.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are prepared in the author's capacity and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Plant Based News itself. 

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Priya is an investigator and organizer with the global grassroots animal rights network Direct Action Everywhere, living in Berkeley, CA.

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