Charges dropped against animal activist accused of breaking into Iowa Select hog site in Dows

Clarion, IA – Charges have been dropped against an animal activist who was set to stand trial on Thursday in Wright County District Court in Clarion. 35-year-old Matthew A. Johnson of Cresco was accused of breaking into the Iowa Select hog site in rural Dows in May 2020 with an accomplice, and placing hidden cameras and stealing a live piglet. He faced 3rd degree burglary charges electronic or mechanical eavesdropping and agricultural production facility trespass.

Wright County Assistant Attorney Joseph Corrow filed a motion to dismiss the charges on Tuesday.

Johnson was being prosecuted under the Iowa Ag Gag Law that was put into effect before the break in at Iowa Select, Johnson filed a motion to dismiss on the grounds that the law is unconstitutional under the first amendment was denied.

Derek Johnson, Wright County district court judge dismissed the charges on Wednesday against the defendant with prejudice, which means Johnson cannot be charged with the crimes for the offense again.

Matthew A. Johnson is a part of the animal activist group Direct Action Everywhere, who released a statement on social media on Wednesday saying that Johnson was going to expose ventilation shutdown killings, and declared the court ruling a victory for animal rights.