Breaking! Trial Against DxE Investigator Matt Johnson For Rescuing A Sick Piglet From A Slaughterhouse In Iowa Is Dismissed

Defendant Matt Johnson with Gilly, a sick piglet he rescued from an Iowa Select Farms facility in Dows, Iowa

Today, a Wright County, Iowa, judge dismissed all charges against animal rights activist Matt Johnson, who was slated to begin a criminal trial tomorrow for an investigation that exposed the mass extermination of thousands of pigs at Iowa’s largest “pork” producer, Iowa Select Farms (ISF).

Johnson, an Iowa native and investigator with Direct Action Everywhere (DxE), faced eight years behind bars for capturing video and audio of the mass killing, including a method known as “ventilation shutdown.” This essentially means cooking the animals to death.

Johnson was charged with eavesdropping, for placing undercover cameras at the slaughterhouse, and burglary, for rescuing a single baby pig, who was wounded and suffering from a deadly septic infection, and rushing her to emergency care. Less than an hour before a court hearing on expanding media coverage for the trial, the prosecutor filed a motion to dismiss the charges, which the judge granted.

“Iowa Select Farms knows how disastrous it would be to publicly answer for their actions, and they are desperate to avoid doing so,” Johnson told WAN. “But, the public is wising up to confront the widespread abuse of animals, as well as the abuse of our legal system which should be protecting those animals.”

Johnson also noted that he and other animal rights activists will continue to expose the abuse because, “As long as sentient beings are used as food, they will live short, miserable lives, and meet grisly deaths, be it through ventilation shutdown or having their throats slit.”

This Must Stop!

Johnson had filed a motion with the court to present at trial evidence of the ventilation shutdown killings at ISF. The investigation captured video and audio recordings of pigs screaming in agony for several hours as they died. Thousands of pigs were killed at Iowa Select Farms using ventilation shutdown, after COVID-19 outbreaks caused the closure of many slaughterhouses, rendering many of the animals being raised on factory farms commercially “worthless.” According to DxE activists, the sickly piglet they rescued, whom they named Gilly, was one of countless animals destined for a landfill.

The USDA subsequently handed out millions of dollars to factory farms to compensate them for profits lost due to the companies’ inability to slaughter and sell the animals for food. DxE was tipped off to conditions at the farm by an employee whistleblower.

Iowa is one of a number of states that have enacted so-called ag-gag laws at the behest of Big Ag interests. Courts in several states, including Iowa, have struck down the laws, which prohibit undercover investigations inside animal agriculture facilities, holding them unconstitutional. When it dismissed all of the charges against Johnson, the court had yet to rule on his First Amendment challenge to the ag-gag law. Three of Iowa’s four ag-gag laws remain under challenge in separate civil cases.

“These are living creatures to be protected and cared for, not pieces of garbage to be thrown away,” Johnson said. “The government should be rescuing animals like Gilly and not covering up their abuse.”

Other charges against Johnson were also dropped last year but were related to the same four-week investigation.

“Those charges were from the specific location where the VSD was taking place,” explained Johnson. “This case was a different ISF facility, where mass killings of piglets was occurring.”

Please Call Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds and urge her to #EndAgGag laws at (515) 281-5211.

Sign DXE’s letter demanding that immediate action is taken to rectify the abuses of the factory farming industry around the world, and protect whistleblowers who expose this misconduct and help end the suffering of animals, HERE!

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