Violent Extremism: Right to Rescue

Samantha Suppiah
4 min readNov 3, 2023

One of hundreds of ways Regeneration, Inc. remains paralysed in white comfort is the lack of interest and involvement in animal rights issues. Folk would much rather go forest bathing and mushroom picking than stand trial for trespassing onto factory farms and rescuing and rehabilitating downed birds.

“Diseased, decaying ducks and hens were found on the premises at Reichardt and Sunrise Farms, here at Sonoma Country. […] This has been going on since 2014. Virtually every duck in this facility is infected with rimerella, and nothing is being done about it.”
- Expert veterinary testimony at Sonoma Rescue Trial

As a result of the actions taken by Direct Action Everywhere, 70 animals were rescued and over 100 activists were arrested.

Wayne Hsiung was convicted today in Sonoma County, Northern California, for not complying with institutional power in advocating for the #righttorescue. After a trial at which the majority of defense evidence was denied to be considered, the jury found Hsiung guilty of three out of four charges, including felony conspiracy and misdemeanor trespass at Sunrise Farms and at Reichardt Duck Farm, where vets and activists had found countless cases of animal abuse and unsafe farm practices.

Dayna Ghiradelli, executive director of the Sonoma County Farm Bureau (“voice of Sonoma County agriculture”), said she was “relieved and grateful that the outcome is what it is… and that justice prevailed.”

Cassie King, a co-defendant at the start of trial who had her charges dismissed by prosecutors said, “it feels enraging that this system has so much power that they get to pick and choose prosecuting non-violent people… who are just trying to help animals.”

Instead of legislating improved industry standards, the Sonoma County District Attorney decided to target the animal rescuers.

This is because in the United States, the UK (and in many countries), animal rescue is classed as a terrorist activity.

Hsiung is an American attorney and activist, co-founding The Simple Heart Initiative and Direct Action Everywhere.

Direct Action Everywhere is listed as a terrorist organisation in many counter-terrorism agencies all over the world.

The organisation rejects “the speciesism that enables the mass torture and killing of nonhuman animals and the blatant disregard for their home — our planet — as well as the unjust and oppressive institutions and ideologies that harm all animals including humans.”

Read more on LASIT here.

“A new generation of animal welfare activists argue that U.S. state bystander laws give them the right to save animals in distress — including those in factory farms,” opens a recent National Geographic feature on the right to rescue.

In March 2017, five activists entered Circle Four Farms, an industrial pig farm in Utah owned by Smithfield Foods, one of the largest pork producers in the world. They took with them two piglets, Lily and Lizzie, who were sick and underweight. Prosecutors argued it was stealing. The FBI raided two farm animal shelters in Utah and Colorado looking for the missing pigs. Prosecutors charged all five activists with felony burglary and theft charges, but by the time of the trial in 2022, two men faced up to 10 years in prison. At one point, because of an enhancement for crimes committed against animal enterprises, the two faced a sentence of up to 60 years.
The jury in Washington County, Utah, sided with the activists.

“Open rescuers argue they have a right to rescue animals in distress. [… W]hile activists call it rescue, farms call it stealing. Both Smithfield, which is owned by the Hong Kong-based WH group that reported $24 billion in 2019 revenue, and Foster Farms declined to comment. Circle Four Farms did not respond to a request for comment. In a statement after the trial, Smithfield’s vice president of corporate affairs Jim Monroe called the verdict “disappointing” and said the activists are “part of an anti-meat movement determined to undermine livestock agriculture.” He also denied animals were mistreated.”

The #SmithfieldTrial ended with a full acquittal for Paul and Wayne. More on Lily and Lizzie’s rescue at DxE.



Samantha Suppiah

Southeast Asian trickster. Design strategist for decolonial sustainability & regeneration.