On 30th November, Wayne Hsiung, the animal rights attorney and co-founder of the organization Direct Action Everywhere (DxE), was sentenced to 90 days in jail and two years probation for three trespass-related convictions in Sonoma County, California, US. However, this may look like he got away with a lenient sentence (he could have got three years) some of the conditions of his parole were seen as very harsh. Without the prosecution asking for this, the judge ordered Hsiung to have no contact with the other named “co-conspirators” in this case — who happen to be most of his closest friends — possibly to try to stop the open rescue movement from proliferating.
The Sonoma Open Rescue case involved the rescue of 70 chickens and ducks from two different factory farms in Sonoma County between 2018 and 2019 after investigations showed serious animal welfare problems. Hsiung was the only person remaining on trial in this case after charges were dropped or plea deals were accepted regarding all the other co-defendants. During the trial, Judge Laura Passaglia made a series of controversial decisions, including only allowing the jury to see a couple of very short videos of the conditions of the animals in the factories where the open rescue events took place.
On 2nd November, Hsiung, who represented himself in the case, was found guilty of felony conspiracy and misdemeanour trespass at Sunrise Farms and misdemeanour trespass at Reichardt Duck Farm, but the jury could not reach a unanimous verdict on the felony conspiracy charge from the Reichardt action, resulting in a “hung jury” mistrial on that charge.
With time served since his conviction and California’s half-time credits, Hsiung will reportedly walk out of jail in just a couple of weeks.
After the verdict was given, and after some speeches in a rally outside the courts had taken place, three other DxE activists, Zoe Rosenberg, Conrad de Jesus, and Rocky Chau, were arrested on warrants for other open rescue actions.