Animal rights activist who released 400 mink to their death gets 3 years

A Los Angeles man who spray painted “Liberation is Love” after turning loose a small Illinois fur farm’s stock of mink picked up 3 years in federal prison Monday.

Kevin Johnson, 28, also known as “Kevin Oliff” pleaded guilty last year to one count of conspiring to travel in interstate commerce with the purpose of damaging an animal enterprise, leading to U.S. District Judge Amy J. St. Eve handing down his sentence in federal court in Chicago this week. Johnson was already in custody for possession of burglary tools that he stated he planned to use to break into fox farm.

Johnson and an accomplice, both vegans and seasoned animal rights protesters with at least a passing knowledge of the Animal Liberation Front extremist group, traveled from California to the small, family-run mink farm in Morris outside of Chicago, stopping at other farms in Iowa and Wisconsin on the way. There, on the night of August 13, 2013 the men vandalized the Illinois farm, setting loose some 2,000 mink of which just 1,600 were recovered alive.

“When I came home from work, (the owners) were out, trying to get the mink back,” a neighbor to the farm, Darren Caley, said in an interview with local media in 2014.

“A lot of them got hit by cars, and a lot we found in a corn field dead. They were hand-reared and didn’t know how to hunt so many of them starved to death.

“I guess the guys who did this believed in what they were doing or they wouldn’t have done it, but if you ask me, it was counter-productive.”

The men also damaged two farm vehicles, cut fences, and destroyed animal identification cards making it impossible to positively identify those mink which were recovered. This, argued the government, led to the closure of the farm.

Johnson “vandalized a small, family-owned business, forcing it to close its doors,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Bethany K. Biesenthal argued in the government’s sentencing memo to Judge St. Eve. “While his intentions are noble, his tactics are not.”

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