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ARA Protestor Pleads Guilty in Mink Release


By Stefano Esposito
June 27, 2015
Chicago Sun Times

One of two animal-rights protesters accused of freeing 2,000 minks from an Illinois fur farm two years ago pleaded guilty Friday in connection with the case. Kevin Johnson, who also goes by Kevin Olliff, pleaded guilty to "conspiring to travel in interstate commerce with the purpose of damaging an animal enterprise," according to the plea agreement filed in federal court.
Johnson faces up to three years in prison when he's sentenced Nov. 5.

Johnson and Tyler Lang -- a pair of animal-rights protesters from California -- allegedly released the animals from a mink farm in Morris, 65 miles southwest of Chicago in August 2013, then daubed the walls of a barn with the words "Liberation is Love." The pair are suspected of traveling across the U.S. to free caged animals, including those on mink farms and a fox farm in Roanoke, Illinois. Both men are veteran animal-rights protesters and are soliciting financial support, according to a website called SupportKevinandTyler.com.

The feds say that in addition to freeing the caged minks in Morris they also tore holes in a farm fence to aid the animals' escape. They also allegedly vandalized two farm vehicles. The raid was touted on websites associated with the Animal Liberation Front, an organization the FBI has said poses a terrorist threat.

Though some of the farm's animals were recovered, many died, according to neighbor Darren Caley. "A lot of them got hit by cars, and a lot we found in a cornfield dead,"' Caley said. "They were hand-reared and didn't know how to hunt, so many of them starved to death."

According to Friday's plea agreement: "Of the 2,000 released minks, approximately 600 died or were never recovered. The remaining minks lost their resale value because the breeding cards were removed and destroyed." But in a statement from Vandalia prison, published by supporters on his website in February, Kevin Johnson reiterated his support for animal rights protests.

"I have seen more animals languishing in cages than I can remember," he wrote.

[Press Office note: Imprisoned in cages for life, or mercilessly trapped with painful leghold traps in the wild, fur-bearing animals killed to make unnecessary fashion statements are forced to endure intensive confinement, compared to the miles of territory these still-wild animals would enjoy in their natural state. The natural instincts of these captive animals are completely frustrated; self-mutilation, sickness, infection, poor sanitation and the sheer stress of confinement lead animals in captivity to premature death. When they do survive, animals of sufficient size are killed by anal electrocution or gassing, then skinned. In addition to liberating the wild animals destined for a certain, painful and agonizing death, another goal of liberationists is to cause economic damage to fur retailers and farms; dozens of stores and fur farming operations have seen economic ruin since "Operation Bite Back" began by the Animal Liberation Front in the 1990s.

Those concerned with the truth should not be misled by claims of those with economic interests, for instance ridiculous stories that the animals released are domesticated and unable to survive in the wild, or that the animals voluntarily returned to their cages, or that they froze to death or starved within hours, or were immediately run over by automobiles or eaten by household pets. Scientific studies have validated that these animals remain genetically wild and are able to survive in a wide range of habitats.

The Animal Liberation Front and other anonymous activists utilize economic sabotage in addition to the direct liberation of animals from conditions of abuse and imprisonment to halt needless animal suffering. By making it more expensive to trade in the lives of innocent, sentient beings, they maintain the atrocities against our brothers and sisters are likely to occur in smaller numbers; their goal is to abolish the exploitation, imprisonment, torture and killing of innocent, non-human animals. A copy of the Final Nail, a listing of known fur farms in North America, is available from the Press Office website at www.animalliberationpressoffice.org]

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