Animal rights protester charged after storming court in referee jersey during Grizzlies-Timberwolves play-off game

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An animal rights activist wearing a makeshift referee shirt was tackled Saturday after storming the field during a playoff game between the Memphis Grizzlies and Minnesota Timberwolves.

Video of the incident shows the activist sitting behind the Timberwolves bench before abruptly rushing onto the field with just under 11 minutes left in the third quarter. The woman was quickly arrested by security in the middle of a play. After the whistle sounded, she was dragged off the field at the Target Center in Minnesota.

The protester was identified as Sasha Zemmel of St. Louis, Missouri, according to animal rights group Direct Action Everywhere, which claimed responsibility for two previous fan protests at Timberwolves games in recent weeks.

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An animal cruelty activist is taken away in handcuffs after attempting to protest during Game 4 of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Memphis Grizzlies first-round playoff series Saturday, April 23, 2022 in Minneapolis.
(AP Photo/Craig Lassig)

The organization claims the protests were an attempt to get Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor to “step back and return the factory farm rescue money”.

Zemmel’s jersey featured the number 5.3 on the back “in honor of the 5.3 million chickens killed” at Rembrandt Enterprises, an Ohio egg farm owned by Taylor, the organization claimed in a press release on Saturday.

“She tried to whistle to stop the game when she approached Taylor in place at the track to issue a ‘technical foul and removal’ along with a ‘fine’ against Forbes’ richest billionaire in Minnesota,” added the release.

Minnesota Timberwolves guard Jordan McLaughlin, center, moves up for a shot between Memphis Grizzlies attacker Jaren Jackson Jr., left, and Grizzlies attacker Brandon Clarke, right, during the second half in Game 4 of a first-round playoff series Saturday April 23, 2022, in Minneapolis.

Minnesota Timberwolves guard Jordan McLaughlin, center, moves up for a shot between Memphis Grizzlies attacker Jaren Jackson Jr., left, and Grizzlies attacker Brandon Clarke, right, during the second half in Game 4 of a first-round playoff series Saturday April 23, 2022, in Minneapolis.
(AP Photo/Craig Lassig)

The incident was the third protest from fans at a Timberwolves game in recent weeks.

ANIMAL RIGHTS ACTIVIST GLUES HIMSELF TO THE FLOOR DURING NBA PLAY-IN WITH MESSAGE TO T-WOLVES OWNER

On April 12, an animal rights activist stuck her hands to the court during Timberwolves’ play-in game against the Los Angeles Clippers. The woman, identified as activist Alicia Santurio, was taken away by security after the incident.

Just days later, a protester wearing a “Glen Taylor Roasts Animals Alive” T-shirt tied himself to the basket during the series opener between the Grizzlies and Timberwolves at FedExForum in Memphis April 16. That protester was identified by Direct Action Everywhere as Zoë Rosenberg.

She also threw flyers on the floor.

As for Zemmel, she was released from police custody on Sunday morning, the organization said.

An animal cruelty activist is taken away in handcuffs after attempting to protest during Game 4 of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Memphis Grizzlies first-round playoff series Saturday, April 23, 2022 in Minneapolis.

An animal cruelty activist is taken away in handcuffs after attempting to protest during Game 4 of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Memphis Grizzlies first-round playoff series Saturday, April 23, 2022 in Minneapolis.
(AP Photo/Craig Lassig)

Another protester who sat alongside Zemmel was also removed from Saturday’s playoff game, which the Timberwolves won 119-118.

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The series is tied at 2-2 with the next game scheduled for Tuesday night.

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