Hollywood, California, November 3rd, 2023 – If you’re one of the many people who report feeling distressed and disgusted in the wake of the conviction and jailing of Wayne Hsiung in California, you can join #ProsecuteThis. It’s the new social media campaign launched in the wake of this miscarriage of justice. Print out a photo of one of the suffering animals trapped in a factory farm (like the one near the headline) and take your own photo with it. Add the hashtag #ProsecuteThis and post it all over social media: Instagram, Facebook, X, YouTube… everywhere!
Meanwhile, the following editorial is my take on what went down.
Is This America?
I’m a journalist, author and documentary filmmaker who founded UnchainedTV, a multi-media organization with a viewpoint, namely that switching to a plant-based culture can solve most of the world’s problems. It’s okay to have a viewpoint. The big networks, from MSNBC to Fox News, certainly do.
But, in this missive, I am speaking as a United States citizen, a California homeowner, a California voter and a taxpayer.
I am distressed and disgusted that my tax dollars are being used to try and take out the leaders of the animal rights movement. That’s exactly what I believe just happened in Sonoma County, where Wayne Hsiung – who co-founded the incredibly impactful group Direct Action Everywhere – has been convicted and SENT TO JAIL WITHOUT BAIL for his part in organizing the rescue of a few dozen factory farmed chickens and ducks about five years ago.
This Movement Is Making The Powers that Be Very Nervous
Hsiung, an attorney and former constitutional law professor, is being treated like an organized crime kingpin or a terrorist. This movement must really be posing a massive threat to the extremely powerful industries that have co-opted the pillars of our democracy: government and media. While the government persecutes, the media pretends…nothing to see here. Hsiung’s conviction was reported by some mainstream news outlets, but there were many days when UnchainedTV was the only news organization reporting on this pivotal trial, which parallels the ongoing culture war over how we treat the more than 80 billion cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys, ducks and lambs slaughtered and eaten yearly.
Like many of my neighbors, I feel the need to contribute to a private security patrol. I have alarm systems and lighting with cameras installed… all to stay safe. Having been a crime reporter for decades, I take no chances. But, I wish more neighborhood law enforcement patrols would make those extreme precautions unnecessary.
Instead, armies of cops are sent out in full riot gear to arrest people holding flowers and singing songs as some of them try to rescue suffering chickens and ducks from animal factories. On the body-cam footage, some of the cops are even heard talking about all the overtime they’re making. Then, prosecutors spend a fortune to lock up the leader of the open rescue movement. While I can’t say I personally heard this, activists say they overheard one of the prosecutors saying they were on a mission to “cut the head off the snake” of the open rescue movement.
Propping up the animal agriculture industry is not a proper mission for prosecutors. Justice is. Justice for all… including animals and the people who rescue them.
This is California?
Wayne Hsiung was previously arrested and prosecuted in Utah in a case involving the open rescue of some sick and suffering piglets from a monstrously huge pig factory. The jury in Utah found him not guilty. After the trial, one of the jurors asked… why didn’t you take more pigs out?
But, here in supposedly progressive California, Judge Laura Passaglia – a former prosecutor herself – nixed almost all of the footage showing sick and dead chickens and ducks and refused to let the witnesses even refer to what happens inside these giant animal facilities as cruelty, despite testimony of cannibalism at one of the facilities.
The judge also went out of her way to make media coverage as difficult as possible. No still cameras in the courtroom. No video cameras in the courtroom. No sketches of the judge, the prosecutors, the witnesses, the bailiffs or anyone… but the defendant. And, she gagged Wayne Hsiung, meaning he could not talk to the media during the trial. After the verdict, slam…off to jail immediately with NO BAIL. This is the kind of thing I would expect in one of the nations we look down on as banana republics or tyrannical dictatorships. But, it’s all happening here in sunny California.
Climate Change anyone?
California is supposed to be one of America’s most environmentally conscious states, leading the charge to come up with solutions to the climate crisis. But, California’s government refuses to take a hard look at animal agriculture’s impact on the climate.
The New York Times recently reported on a University of Oxford study that showed heavy meat eaters could reduce their greenhouse gas emissions footprint by 75% just by switching to a plant-based diet. 75%…. That’s a real solution to the climate crisis. Our government, on the local, state and federal levels, should be doing everything it can to transition industries, institutions and individuals to a plant-based lifestyle, which is also better for human health.
Instead, they are literally locking up people who point out the serious ethical and environmental problems with this industry. Years ago, California voters passed Prop 2, which is supposed to make things better for animals trapped in the industrialized factory farming system. But, police and prosecutors in California refuse to admit or prosecute a single instance of violation of that proposition that was passed overwhelmingly by California voters. Governor Newsom, are you paying attention?
Ignoring The Will of the People
California voters are upset because government is ignoring the mandate of the people. Government is ignoring what is best for our state. Government is acting like it works for the animal agriculture industry. It does not. It works for us. Government’s toxic mindset on this issue is coming back to haunt us with a health care crisis, drought, water pollution, habitat destruction, wildlife extinction… the list goes on and on. Wake up government… before it’s too late.
Not Gonna Work
Finally, sorry prosecutors, it’s not going to work. What you have done is actually to galvanize the animal rights movement and push it up to the next level. You cannot arrest an entire movement. You cannot keep everyone in the dark forever. It’s time to #ProsecuteThis.
We invite the prosecutors, the judge, the owners of the facilities at the heart of this trial or anyone from the animal agriculture industry on at any time. We would love to hear your thoughts.
What's Your Reaction?
Jane Velez-Mitchell is an award-winning TV journalist and New York Times best-selling author. She is the founder of UnchainedTV and the host of several shows on the network.