In October 2022, the war against animal extremist activism took a particularly threatening turn when two Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) members were acquitted of felony burglary charges. In 2017, five DxE members, including founder Wayne Hsiung, trespassed and broke into Smithfield’s Circle Four Farms in Utah, then stole two piglets in the name of “open rescue.” Three of the DxE perpetrators made plea bargains, but Hsiung and Paul Picklesimer pursued their cases.
Victory for “The Right to Rescue”
Their acquittal was widely celebrated by the animal extremist community since it set an extremely dangerous precedent by legally establishing that blatant trespassing and theft are not necessarily crimes. Some believe that the acquittal came partially because the piglets’ dollar value of $42.20 each was inconsequential to Smithfield, which is a subsidiary of the multibillion-dollar Hong Kong-based company: WH Group. Regardless, animal extremists have been greatly emboldened by the acquittal. They have called it a “victory for the right to rescue” across the spectrum of animal enterprises from multibillion-dollar companies to small hobby farms.
Be Vigilant – It Can Happen Anywhere
Following the trial, Hsiung brazenly stated, “They just let a guy who walked into a factory farm and took two piglets out without the consent of Smithfield walk out of the courtroom free.