Wayne Hsiung, the co-founder of Direct Action Everywhere (DxE), a Berkeley, California based animal activist group, was found guilty of two counts of misdemeanor trespass and one count of felony conspiracy to trespass on November 2, following a two month jury trial. The jury could not reach a unanimous verdict on a second felony conspiracy charge, resulting in a mistrial on that charge. Hsiung’s conviction followed six days of deliberations by a jury in Santa Rosa, California. Hsiung was taken into custody immediately following the verdict.
The conviction represents a major victory for farms across the country that have been subjected to Hsiung and his followers’ “open rescue” style of activism in which animal activists illegally enter farms, slaughterhouses and other animal businesses and remove animals from those properties without consent and without regard to biosecurity risks. This particular case, which was significantly delayed during the COVID pandemic, stemmed from two mass protest actions in 2018 and 2019 in which activists removed chickens and ducks from two Sonoma County farms. The unlawful activity wasn’t the first for DxE members, who have faced similar prosecutions for these tactics at farms in Utah, North Carolina and California. (Read our prior blogs on DxE and Hsiung here and here).
Hsiung, who is a trained attorney and a former Berkeley, California mayoral candidate,