Slaughterhouse Blockade
from No Compromise Issue 6
 

By Hope Purplehorse - Sonoma People for Animal Rights, Animal Rights Direct Action Coalition

For 34 years Fulton Poultry Processing Plant has been profiting from death, currently killing an average of 30,000 chickens a day. When the front gate is open, you can see the birds being roughly pulled from the tiny cages on the trucks. They are then hung upside down, some struggling madly, on their way to an assembly-line beheading.

There have been numerous lawsuits filed against Fulton Poultry for unlawfully allowing the waste and byproducts of the slaughter to run into the sensitive Russian River. This place is a machine of destruction on so many levels, something should be done.

It was 7:00 a.m. the morning of December 8, 1996--- one week before Christmas and a blockade of Fulton Poultry chicken slaughterhouse was underway. A group of about 17 activists from Sonoma County, California and some lending a hand from San Francisco and Santa Cruz, blocked the gates in an act of peaceful, civil disobedience. At the side gate, where the birds are trucked in alive, we positioned three concrete filled barrels with two activists sitting in between them. Through plastic tubes they handcuffed themselves deep in the belly of the barrels.

On the front gate, where the empty trucks roll out, we tried a new tactic; a tripod. This tactic has been recently used by Earth First! on logging roads. A tripod is three 20 foot poles tied near the top like a tee-pee. Three activists kryptonite lock their necks to the bottom poles and a fourth activist climbs to the top, perched like a bird, waiting.

Our message to the press and commuters passing by was simple - factory farming and senseless killing is wrong. At Christmas time we talk of peace, but we could truly make it a part of our lives at each meal. We should extend our circle of compassion to include the non-human animals and live far healthier on a vegan diet.

The police tried to coax the perched activist, Otter, down. After several hours, the cops did what seemed too dangerous. They brought in a truck with an extending arm and a bucket big enough for a couple of people at the end. The truck was backed in close to the tripod. Two big, burly boys in blue were chosen to be lifted to the top. To passively resist for as long as possible, Otter went limp and the two plucked him off and lowered him down. The tripod was soon dismantled and all activists were arrested. With the tripod down, the trucks, full of the sickly birds, began to pull in the front gate. The two activists at the side gate decided to unlock from the barrels.

Meanwhile, a number of other protesters were lawfully supporting the action in the designated free-speech area, holding signs to traffic. Two protesters were suddenly arrested for no reason whatsoever. Everyone arrested was charged with absurd felony conspiracy charges. With the ridiculous felony charges we were held on $1,000 bail. A previous agreement was made in solidarity to not pay any fines. We don't want to reward the system for arresting us.

We were held in jail and remained on a hunger strike for three days until our arraignment. It was a difficult three days, but the thought of how much worse it is for the animals made it bearable. At least we would be granted freedom eventually. Factory farmed animals endure the horror of confinement their entire short life and the end result is always death.

Holding us also backfired on the police as we received much more media attention for the outrageous felony charge. T.V. and radio reporters came to the jail to get the story from the Sheriff's Department, as well as the supporters holding vigil outside.

At our arraignment the felony charge was dropped to misdemeanor trespassing and we were released on our own recognizance. That night we celebrated our freedom over vegan pizza at our local vegetarian restaurant. We felt satisfied that our action sent a message to the community--- a message for the birds.