On 25th April 2023, Curtis Vollmar, a vegan activist from the animal rights organization Direct Action Everywhere (DxE), was found guilty of criminal trespass and disorderly conduct by Beaver County Judge Shadrach Bradshaw. Vollmar was fined $850 after being confronted by police while leafleting about Smithfield Foods at a park in Utah, and he has said he will appeal the verdict.
Vollmar is a community organizer with DxE, and on 24th July 2022, he joined several other activists at a public park in Beaver City, Utah, to peacefully leaflet, gather petition signatures and engage in conversation with residents about Smithfield Foods. Vollmar says he was met with hostility from Beaver County law enforcement officials who cited him for disorderly conduct. Vollmar recorded the incident and submitted the video to the YouTube channel “Audit the Audit” where it went viral with 2.7 million views. Several individuals and members of animal rights groups initiated a civil lawsuit against Beaver County’s officials over the incident.
On the day of the trial, the prosecution presented a lease agreement between a church organization and the city of Beaver for the park property where the leafleting occurred. They argued that during the Pioneer Day Festival when the outreach occurred, the Church was using the property for a private event. Vollmar’s attorney argued that there was no evidence presented by the prosecution of any disorderly conduct.
Wayne Hsiung, an attorney and co-founder of DxE, said to Unchainedtv, “This was quite possibly the most absurd verdict I’ve ever seen in my life… Let’s just be clear. Curtis was convicted of disorderly conduct despite the fact that, today in evidence, the only things we heard in testimony were words like, he was friendly, he was polite.”
“UPDATE August 2023: The lawsuit that Vollmar and other activists filed against Beaver County’s officials over the incident ended in the plaintiffs favour, with the activists receiving $52,000 plus legal costs from the County in an out of court settlement.”