Online threat to Conklin dairy causes a commotion

“Conklin Dairy — The Time for a Monumental Action is NOW!!!” was the headline posted on the Web site by animal activist Gary Yourofsky. In his May 28 diatribe, after viewing the video Mercy for Animals had released of a farm employee harming animals at Conklin Dairy near Plain City, Yourofsky called for fellow animal activists to literally attack the farm at noon on Memorial Day.

“… we cannot let that slave-owner Gary Conklin operate his dairy imprisonment camp with impunity any longer,” he wrote, referring to the farm as the Conklin Concentration Camp, or CCC.

“… TOGETHER WE WILL DISASSEMBLE THE FARM PIECE BY PIECE AND SHUT DOWN THIS PLACE OF TORTURE!!!” Yourofsky continued. “I am asking everyone who cares about justice and injustice to bring bolt cutters, bats, crowbars, pitchforks, hammers and wrenches to help destroy every piece of equipment the farm has, and tear down the sheds.”

The message also promoted violence against farm workers and law officers.

“I am not asking you to harm anyone if it is NOT in you to harm someone … although those who wish to will have my FULL SUPPORT. Also, you might want to bring a weapon or be prepared to use the device you bring to protect yourself (SELF-DEFENSE) from Conklin, his violent cohorts and the police department. Whatever you are comfortable with,” the message said. “Why should violent meat and dairy industries be allowed to continuously operate with PURE violence and impunity. To end violence with violence IS noble and is necessary sometimes.”

Comments on the Web site responding to the diatribe included activists discussing travel plans to the farm, locations to put the displaced cows once they were “liberated,” and voicing support and calling for “blood to flow.”

“Gary (Yourofsky) is quite brave and bold and it is time we all become bolder,” one commenter wrote.

But Yourofsky’s message reached more than animal activists, and at noon on Memorial Day, about 150 law-enforcement officers, backed up by a helicopter and at least one armored vehicle, were at Conklin Dairy ready to stop any potential violence.

Yourofsky reportedly called off the attack the previous day after learning that police were planning to show up in force. Although some did show up to peacefully protest, but were mostly turned away with nowhere to park, no permit to protest and no public property on which to stand.

Union County prosecutors are reviewing state and federal law to see whether Yourofsky can be prosecuted for making threats to destroy the farm. There also is the possibility Yourofsky may have to pay for the police response.

Mercy For Animals, the animal-rights group based in Chicago that produced the video, had tried to stop the protest. It released a statement urging “concerned citizens to remain patient while law enforcement investigates the matter.”

Several days later, activists on the Web site where Yourofsky made his initial call to action posted their reflections on the episode, including:

“For us this is a turning point. We are prepared to make mistakes and along the way we will have successes and failures — but stagnation and tolerance are no longer options. The state is not going to help the imprisoned nonhuman animals. And, perhaps, the most valuable thing that some of us are taking away from Memorial Day 2010 is knowledge. We are beginning to understand how to mitigate the inherent chaos in spontaneous action, and our tactics and strategies will continue to evolve as the war advances.”

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