Activist who freed thousands of minks in Morris gets 3 years in prison

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An animal activist who freed thousands of minks has been ordered locked up for three years. (WLS)

An animal activist who freed thousands of minks has been ordered locked up for three years.

Illinois farms were targeted by free-the-minks radicals in 2013 as part of a nationwide campaign against caged animals.

Kevin Johnson was successful on a raid get thousands of minks freed from a farm in Morris. But he was also arrested, and the liberator of minks is will himself be looking out from the inside of a cage, at least for a while longer.

Johnson was handed three years by a federal judge, but with credit for time already served, he could get out in three months.

Animal activists called it "freedom summer" in 2013, targeting Midwestern mink farms and cutting loose thousands of minks and foxes from their cages.

Johnson and his co-liberator Tyler Lang, both from California, were charged and convicted in the campaign to save animals from the coat racks, specifically a farm in Morris - 2,000 minks had been freed, and a spray-painted message left behind said: "liberation is love."

Nearly 20 years ago, the animal liberation front began its fur farm campaign with activists breaking into barns and releasing animals to save them from being made into luxury coats.

In 2013, investigators said Johnson and Lang traveled through Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin, invading mink and fox farms.

Their case became a rallying point for animal rights activists. Judge Amy St. Eve sentenced Johnson, it was the low end of what the government wanted.

In this sentencing memo, prosecutors said they were concerned because Johnson has mental health issues and a tendency to "stop taking his medication," which they said didn't bode well for the chances he do it all again.

The government says that even when Johnson is released, authorities say it will be "necessary to effectively supervise him and monitor his whereabouts."

It is unclear exactly how the government plans to monitor Johnson when he is freed, and a spokesman for the U.S. attorney would not comment, saying that is part of a court-sealed report. District judge St. Eve did observe this: hundreds of the minks that Johnson wanted to save ended up suffering because he let them go.

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