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
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
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