Animal activist who released thousands of minks gets 3 years in prison

Chicago Tribune

kevinjohnson-20140729On a summer morning nearly three years ago, residents of downstate Morris awoke to a peculiar sight. Minks were everywhere. Running through yards, darting under parked cars, scurrying across farm roads on the way into town. Dozens of the animals lay dead in the road, killed by traffic. Others splashed in lawn sprinklers to escape the heat.

In the middle of the night, two California animal rights activists had broken into a local mink farm wearing balaclavas and armed with bolt cutters and released more than 2,000 of the furry creatures, federal prosecutors say. The owners found cages emptied and their business ruined. Spray-painted on the side of their barn were the words “LIBERATION IS LOVE.”

In federal court Monday, one of the activists, Kevin Johnson, was sentenced to three years in prison and ordered to pay $200,000 in restitution to the victims of the sabotage.

In handing down the sentence, U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve said she was troubled by the “escalation” of Johnson’s activism over the years and that previous stints behind bars have not seemed to deter him. She also noted that his actions on the mink farm that night caused suffering for many of the animals he professed to want to save. In all, more than 550 of the minks died, many painfully, the judge said.

[Press Office note: Those concerned with the truth should not be misled by claims of those with economic interests, for instance ridiculous stories that the animals released are domesticated and unable to survive in the wild, or that the animals voluntarily returned to their cages, or that they froze to death or starved within hours, or were immediately run over by automobiles or eaten by household pets.

Imprisoned in cages for life, or mercilessly trapped with painful leghold traps in the wild,  fur-bearing animals killed to make unnecessary fashion statements are forced to endure intensive confinement, compared to the miles of territory these still-wild animals would enjoy in their natural state. The natural instincts of these captive animals are completely frustrated; self-mutilation, sickness, infection, poor sanitation and the sheer stress of confinement lead animals in captivity to premature death. When they do survive, animals of sufficient size are killed by anal electrocution or gassing, then skinned. In addition to liberating the wild animals destined for a certain, painful and agonizing death, another goal of liberationists is to cause economic damage to fur retailers and farms; dozens of stores and fur farming operations have seen economic ruin since “Operation Bite Back” began by the Animal Liberation Front in the 1990s.

The Animal Liberation Front and other anonymous activists utilize economic sabotage in addition to the direct liberation of animals from conditions of abuse and imprisonment to halt needless animal suffering. By making it more expensive to trade in the lives of innocent, sentient beings, they maintain the atrocities against our brothers and sisters are likely to occur in smaller numbers; their goal is to abolish the exploitation, imprisonment, torture and killing of innocent, non-human animals. A copy of the Final Nail, a listing of known fur farms in North America, is available from the Press Office website at]