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The group behind protests during multiple Minnesota Timberwolves games this month have officially issued a list of demands.
The group Direct Action Everywhere is behind three separate protests during Timberwolves playoff games this month, where a woman tried to glue herself to the court, another chained herself to the basket and a third ran onto the court during the game.
The group called out Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor on Tuesday, officially demanding that he step down as the team’s governor and speed up the pending sale of the team. They also want him to donate $11.3 million to public health and animal welfare organizations.
"To have Taylor and other extremely powerful factory farming businessmen getting these taxpayer bailouts flies in the face of the values of ordinary Americans," Direct Action Everywhere media contact and activist Matt Johnson told ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz. "Taylor should set a powerful example by stepping away from NBA ownership and refusing to take any subsidies related to the HPAI outbreak, and donate funds previously received to help repair some of the harm of the most destructive industry on the planet."
What is ‘Direct Action Everywhere?’
The protests started as a response to Taylor’s massive chicken farm in Iowa, Rembrandt Farms. The farm had a bird influenza outbreak in March, and killed more than 5 million chickens via ventilation shutdown — a controversial practice that cuts off air flow into the building where the birds live.
Direct Action Everywhere, or DxE, is a Bay Area group whose members protest farming and meat-eating “until every animal is free,” according to SFGate. They frequently conduct “open rescues,” where they steal animals from farms and also encourage members to pressure others around them to become vegan.
One of the goals of the group, per the report, is to push for more “open rescues” and then get an “Equal Species Amendment” passed in at least one state by 2055.
DxE co-founder Wayne Hsiung, a former lawyer and former Berkley mayoral candidate, has faced immense criticism in recent years. James Davis, a former associate of Hsiung, called him a “self-aggrandizing” bully.
"Over the years, Wayne has gaslit and assailed the character of those who disagree with him, while promoting ‘yes men’ who see him as the Second Coming,” Davis wrote while Hsiung was running for mayor in 2020, via SFGate. “If Wayne wins the race for mayor, I have no doubt that he will pursue a similarly divisive agenda that ignores rather than unifies the community in common purpose.”
Among other protests, the group has covered members in fake blood to interrupt ribbon-cutting ceremonies or protest outside of Whole Foods stores. Hsiung, per SFGate, was charged with multiple felonies after members reportedly stole piglets, turkeys and other animals from farms across the country.
What about the Timberwolves protests?
So far, the group has caused significant disruption to the Timberwolves’ postseason run.
One protester, Alicia Saturio, tried to glue her hands to the court during Minnesota’s play-in game against the Los Angeles Clippers. She was quickly removed from the court and ejected from the game.
"I was nervous," Saturio told ESPN. "I had never super-glued myself to anything. I wasn't sure how the fans were going to respond. I most certainly didn't want any of the players to be hurt, so I made sure to do it when they were down at the other end of the court."
A protester then chained herself to the basket in Game 1 of the Timberwolves' series against the Grizzlies in Memphis. Her chain was cut and she was removed from the arena.
Johnson tried to disrupt Game 3 of the series by running onto the court, but security arrested him before he could do so. He’s been banned from the arena for a year. A fourth protester then ran onto the court right in front of Taylor in Game 4, but was stopped right away. The goal, per ESPN, was for the protector to call a “technical foul” on Taylor.
She was removed and then arrested, too.
“I didn’t even know what that was,” Timberwolves star Anthony Edwards said after Game 4, via ESPN. “Y’all got to stop running on the floor in Minnesota. Do that in Memphis. We don’t need it.”
It’s unclear if the protests will continue in the series, starting with Game 5 on Tuesday night in Memphis. The series is tied at 2-2.