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How to take on the government (and win)
The Iowa government prosecuted Kecia and Matt for exposing abuse at factory farms. This podcast shows how they fought back – and won.
What happens when the full power of the state comes after you, for exposing abuse at one of the most powerful factory farms in the nation?
If you’re Kecia Doolittle or Matt Johnson, you fight back – and you win.
Kecia is a founder of Project Counterglow, a grassroots initiative to create a nationwide map of factory farms. Matt Johnson is a core organizer for the animal rights network Direct Action Everywhere, and lead investigator in an effort to expose the brutal extermination methods used by pig farms at the height of COVID-19. This includes a method called ventilation shutdown, which has been described as “roast[ing] animals to death.”
Both Kecia and Matt’s work was discussed in the Iowa legislature when it passed a so-called “ag gag” law that targeted animal rights activists for posting videos about abuses in factory farms. And both Kecia and Matt were later charged with serious crimes for that work.
But they fought back, and, on January 19, they won.
This conversation will give you the story behind the story.
That includes the bizarre excuses given by Iowa law enforcement for their failure to investigate credible reports of extreme animal cruelty, including thousands of animals being roasted alive.
It includes the strange motions filed by the government – including their attempt to paint the image of a smiling single mother as a terrorist threat – in the days before trial.
And it includes the exhilarating moment when, after being persecuted by his own government for nearly 2 years, Matt realized that all charges would be dropped one day before trial.
There are lessons here for anyone who’s facing unfair persecution, whether by the government or otherwise. Maybe the most important one is this: understand that your sacrifice has a purpose.
But this conversation is also interesting because of the personal side of things. You see, Matt and Kecia were not just an activist team when they investigated Iowa pig farming. They were dating, too. And what you see in this conversation is the complexity of working together with people who are not just part of a movement but part of a real, human community. That includes all the complexity and messiness and beauty that human relationships will inevitably have.
The fact that their friendship remains so strong, years later and in the face of criminal prosecution, has lessons for us all.
Give this conversation a listen. I think you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.