Four animal rights activists were arrested and detained last week when the group, representing the Farm Animal Rights Movement, was caught taking photos of the Circle Four Farms in southwestern Utah, reported environmental website Green Is the New Red.
On September 24, the activists drove to Circle Four Farms to wait for slaughterhouse-bound trucks to leave the farm. While waiting for the trucks, activist Sarah Jane Hardt photographed rows of sheds and the landscape, but didn’t capture much of the 90-square-mile farm. The activists were not trespassing on private property, and the road where they were is publicly accessible.
The activists began moving farther down the public road when Circle Four Farms trucks blockaded the group, forcing them to stop. The workers pressed the activists to turn over their cameras and began asking them which group they were affiliated with.
After the altercation, the group left, and before reaching the highway, a Beaver County Sheriff’s deputy stopped the group. The officer began reciting provisions of the state’s ag-gag laws and the theatrically-worded Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act.
“He was really adamant about getting hold of our photographs,” said activist Bryan Monell. “He said, ‘There’s a thing called ag-gag out here. I’m not going to say whether I support or not, but it’s serious. They don’t take kindly to that stuff out here.’”
They were then all arrested, held for five hours, and given two citations after refusing to allow a vehicle search and refusing to turn over the photos; one for criminal trespassing and another for violating Utah’s ag-gag law.
Circle Four Farms is a huge farm in the vast landscape of Utah. It houses 600,000 hogs, all jampacked with the small confines of warehouse sheds. Any clear view of the farms is obscured by distance. The farm has been under a its fair share of negative attention.
In early September, the farm was scrutinized by the USDA because of a pig virus, and public health studies have concluded those living close to the farm have an increased chance of being hospitalized. The Justice Department once looked into the farm relating to the largest human trafficking investigation ever.
Ag-gag laws, no matter what state they’re in, are vehemently enforced by local police and the farms and slaughterhouses they protect. They have been written in such a way that pegs activists as terrorists. The fact that they are presented and enforced so aggressively only causes one to think that more sinister things lie within the farms.
Josh is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire. Follow him on Twitter @dnJdeli.