The troubling history of the group behind fan incidents at T-Wolves games

Members of the controversial Bay Area animal rights group Direct Action Everywhere have interrupted three separate Minnesota Timberwolves games in the past two weeks, protesting the methods used to ‘take down’ million chickens during an outbreak of bird flu at the owner of the Timberwolves Glen Taylor Egg Farm.

In response to the latest incident, Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green tweeted“They need to start chasing these people.”

Such brazen protests may be unusual at NBA games, but they are standard practice for Direct Action Everywhere (also known as DxE), whose members pledge to protest against all forms of agriculture and consumption of meat “until every animal is free”. Many protests include what the group calls “open rescues”: the theft of animals directly from farms. This practice has had several members of the group – including a co-founder – arrested and charged with crimes.

DxE also encourages its members to lobby their friends and family to embrace veganism. A document released by the group, “Making the Promise of Release Work for Yousuggests asking family members, “Would you like to sit at a table where someone is eating the body of an abused human baby?” »

The group’s objectives go well beyond the end of factory farming. A document from the group has a planned timeline that begins with widespread “open bailouts” nationwide by 2025 “as vegan culture spreads,” and ends with the passage of an “amendment on equality of species” “in one or more countries or states”. by 2055. To work toward this goal of species equality, the group says it seeks to establish “animal rights seed cities” where meat is restricted.

One of DxE’s co-founders, former corporate lawyer Wayne Hsiung, ran for mayor of Berkeley in 2020 with the goal of establishing the first “seed city.” He actually ran in the general election against incumbent President Jesse Arreguín. He lost, but managed to win 14,000 votes. Hsiung, the longtime public face of DxE, told SFGATE in an email that he left the leadership of DxE in 2019 and that “the recent NBA protests have surprised me as much as many people on Twitter”.

Many activists who have interacted with Hsiung over the years have openly criticized Hsiung’s tactics and interpersonal style. During his mayoral campaign, a former associate, James Davis, wrote an opposition piece for Berkeleyside who accused Hsiung of being a “self-aggrandizing” bully.

An activist chains to the goal during the first half of the first round game of the Western Conference first round between the Memphis Grizzlies and the Minnesota Timberwolves at FedExForum on April 16, 2022 in Memphis, Tennessee.

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“Over the years, Wayne has shed light on and attacked the character of those who disagree with him, while promoting ‘yes’ who see him as the second coming,” Davis wrote. “If Wayne wins the mayoral race, I have no doubt he will pursue a similar divisive agenda that ignores rather than unifies the community in a common goal.

Hsiung faced significant legal implications for stealing farm animals, including suspension of his attorney’s license in California. Prior to the election, he was charged with “two crimes in connection with a ‘rescue’ of two goats in Transylvania County, North Carolina,” according to Berkeleyside.

He is also charged with five felonies and one misdemeanor in connection with “Operation Deathstarwhere DxE members allegedly entered Circle Four Farms in Utah in 2017 and left with two piglets; eight felonies and seven misdemeanors in connection with two operations in Petaluma in 2018; and “third degree felony counts of burglary and theft in connection with the removal of a turkey from Norbest Farm in Sanpete County, Utah. (The case in Sanpete County was filed in November 2021). The California State Bar cited the felony charges, to which Hsiung pleaded not guilty, to North Carolina and Petaluma in their decision to suspend his license as a lawyer.

A jury trial on “Operation Deathstar” for Hsiung and Paul Darwin Picklesimer – another DxE member who faces charges and ran unsuccessfully for Berkeley City Council in 2020 — is slated for September 2022. Neither has pleaded yet.

The activist group has often targeted Whole Foods, alleging the chain supports animal abuse. In 2016, members covered by fake blood interrupted a ribbon cutting at a new Silicon Valley store; in 2018, their protests outside a Berkeley site were so disruptive that a judge awarded Whole Foods a restraining order against the group.

DxE also spent four months in 2017 protesting outside a Berkeley butcher every Sunday, often covering themselves in fake blood and wrap in plastic wrap, according to Eater. The store eventually agreed to display a sign that read, “Warning: Animals’ lives are their right. Killing them is violent and unjust no matter how it’s done,” in exchange for ending the protests.

“We definitely don’t like to make people feel uncomfortable,” DxE organizer Matt Johnson told Eater after the panel was posted. “But if you want to talk about bullying, or the word bullying, which is sometimes used, well, we’re talking about a world in which animals languish in captivity and suffer horrible fates.”

Despite — or perhaps because of — their aggressive tactics, DxE has a sizable following nationwide, with 423,000 followers on Facebook and another 64,000 on Instagram.

“Glue Girl” and the woman in the referee’s uniform protested at Target Center in Minneapolis, while “Chain Girl” hit out at FedExForum in Memphis. The series returns to Memphis for Game 5 on Tuesday night.

About Jessica J. Bass

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