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6 animal activists from California, face criminal charges in Utah for breaking into turkey farm

May 3, 2018, 9:46 PM

SANPETE COUNTY, Utah – Six animal activists from California, face felony charges, related to a video they released just before Thanksgiving that showed what they claimed to be sick and mistreated turkeys at a farm near Moroni. In the video, the Direct Action Everywhere activists can be seen taking a turkey with them.

“Most Americans, when they see animals suffering, they want the animals to be treated with compassion, so at Norbest, we have done the same as we have at factory farms across the nation, and at the end of the day, I am proud of the work we did, even if we have to suffer some jail time,” said Wayne Hsiung, one of the activists facing charges and a co-founder of Direct Action Everywhere.

This isn’t the first time the activists have run afoul of the law. Members of the organization have faced arrest in other states protesting fur and farming operations, but now in Sanpete County, where the turkey industry is the heart of the economy, six of them face felony charges of burglary and theft of livestock.

“The farm is not concerned about a baby bird who is rotting the death, what they are concerned about is the video footage and the photographs that we exposed to the public,” Hsiung added.

The activists say the charges will only raise more awareness about their video, but the prosecutor calls it a serious case.

“It is our contention that they came to Sanpete County and entered into turkey sheds belonging to turkey farmers in this area and essentially ‘turkey-napped’ turkeys, took turkeys that did not belong to them,” Sanpete County Attorney Kevin Daniels said.

Daniels alleges the activists tried taking the law into their own hands and says from a legal perspective, it’s an open and shut case.

“The burglary comes from entering the buildings and then taking something that didn’t belong to them, in this case a turkey,” he said.

Daniels says he has no evidence of animal cruelty on the part of the turkey farmer.

After the video was released, Norbest acknowledged there were problems at the farm in the video, but said it was isolated to just one of its 32 turkey farm operations, despite the activists’ claim it was widespread.

“If you believe animals are being abused, there are proper ways in following the law to report those abuses,” Daniels added.

The activists have been summoned to answers to the charges in court on June 13. If convicted, they could face a sentence up to 5 years in prison.

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6 animal activists from California, face criminal charges in Utah for breaking into turkey farm