For our St. Louis stop of the Fight or Flight Tour, we planned a protest against Delta Air Lines and a workshop. We were excited to work with the local community and members of the St. Louis Animal Rights Team and the Alliance for Medical Progress, and had an engaging discussion about local activism during our workshop at PuraVegan restaurant.
But this tour stop was made particularly special because we were able to drive up to Danville, IL, to visit our friend Kevin Olliff, aka Kevin Johnson.
Kevin, along with Tyler Lang, was recently indicted under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act for being accused of releasing 2,000 mink and foxes from fur farms. Kevin is currently serving time for related state charges at the Danville Correctional Center, far from his home in California, and we were excited for the chance to devote time to seeing our friend after many months of separation.
In some ways, visiting with Kevin was like hanging out with him in someone’s living room like we used to. We told him about how tour has been going, shared old protest stories, made jokes and laughed. But in many other ways, we were visiting our friend in prison. The room was cold, colorful paintings on the wall seemed out of place, and we watched the clock that counted down the moments until we’d have to say goodbye. Among the happiest things Kevin shared about being in the prison was that he liked to watch the birds from his window, and how the prison ground is full of bunnies. He smiled talking about watching baby bunnies take their early steps.
Kevin also told us that when he dreams, he dreams as though he is out of prison; he said that in those moments he is free. But when he told us of inmates who have spent many years inside those walls, he said that in their dreams they are still in prison. In those moments they cannot invoke a world beyond captivity; their dreams are no longer liberating. So many human and non-human animals live in cages, many of them having forgotten—or never learned—how to even dream about being free. We must not forget any of them, and we must work to bring them a freedom that can be experienced while awake and carried gently into sleep.
Please take a moment to write to Kevin, as well as other prisoners, as we actively fight for an end to all cages.
Kevin Johnson, M42382
Danville Correctional Center
3820 E Main St.
Danville, IL 61834