Animal Rights Protester in Ref Jersey Storms Court at Minnesota Timberwolves Playoff Game


Jackson Juzang, Sports Editor

An animal rights protester wearing an NBA referee jersey stormed the court during the Minnesota Timberwolves and Memphis Grizzlies playoff game at Minnesota’s Target Center Saturday night. The woman was sitting in the second row courtside behind Minnesota Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor when she forced her way onto the court as players fought for a rebound with 10:44 left in the third quarter. 

In a statement from the animal rights group Direct Action Everywhere, the protester was identified as Sasha Zemmel, a St. Louis, Missouri resident.  Sasha Zemmel wore a makeshift referee jersey with the number 5.3 displayed on the back to honor the 5.3 million chickens killed after a bird flu outbreak at Rembdrant Enterprises, an egg factory farm owned by Glen Taylor. She appeared to be wearing a maroon jacket over the gray jersey when she was tackled by security. Several security guards quickly attacked her while players raced for a loose ball until the refs blew the whistle, and she was dragged off the court. 

In her identical NBA referee uniform, she attempted to whistle to stop play as she approached Minnesota Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor at his courtside seat, to issue a ‘technical foul and ejection,’ along with a ‘fine’ against Forbes’ richest billionaire in Minnesota. This is the third protest at a Timberwolves game orchestrated by the organization.

On April 16, during Game 1 of the playoff series, an animal rights activist chained herself to the basket stanchion. She tried to lock herself to the hoop during a stoppage of play in the second quarter after throwing flyers on the floor. The woman, wearing a T-shirt, read “Glen Taylor Roasts Animals Alive.” 

Three days earlier, another woman from the organization glued her wrist to the court during the second quarter of the Timberwolves’ home game against the Clippers.