You’ve probably heard it before, and we’ll say it again: animal rights extremists are willing to do anything to make their voices heard and get the attention they so desperately want.
This includes voluntarily choosing to be arrested for involvement in illegal activity, which was exemplified at the recent Animal Liberation Conference held in Oakland, Calif., by extremist group Direct Action Everywhere (DXE). Sessions from the conference covered pressure campaigns, animal liberation, trainings on civil disobedience, and “open rescue,” along with several large-scale protests.
In the final three days of the conference, activists engaged in “direct actions” including an Animal Liberation March in San Francisco to “demand Rose’s Law – Animal Bill of Rights” be implemented in the state; a protest at Governor Gavin Newsom’s home in an attempt to pressure him into taking immediate action against “factory farms and slaughterhouses” in California; a protest at the state government building encouraging legislators to “stop factory farms” by enacting a moratorium; and conducting a several-hour-long protest at a chicken processing facility in Livingston.
A press release from DXE stated the group hoped to maintain the blockade at the processing facility “for 12 hours, potentially disrupting a supply chain which notably includes [prominent restaurant and retail brands] as buyers.” Activists took “direct action” by chaining themselves together on top of and on the ground in front of a truck blocking an entrance into the facility. “Sleeping dragon” devices were used to make it difficult for police to remove the activists and prolonging the length of the protest. The “sleeping dragon” technique has been increasingly used by activist groups the last several months and involves handcuffing themselves together within PVC pipes and tubs filled with concrete.
A total of 11 activists were arrested during the protest and charged with trespassing and resisting arrest. The group also claimed that they “rescued” 14 birds from the facility and a nearby farm. Ultimately, the action was unsuccessful in disrupting the supply chain due to additional entrances into the facility.
Farms and facilities in California and beyond are strongly encouraged to review security recommendations to ensure they’re prepared for potential activist activity. Recommendations include:
- Establish check-in procedures for visitors at your farm and ensure all employees and family members know the steps to follow if a visitor shows up. Visitors should be escorted at all times.
- Maintain basic security: lock offices and cabinets, have proper lighting, alarms and cameras, and post signs for restricted areas and no trespassing.
- Thoroughly screen all job applicants by verifying past employment, conducting background checks, and confirming they are not a known animal rights activist.
- Have conversations with law enforcement so that they are aware of the potential threat and tactics of animal rights extremists. Find out what your rights are and what needs to happen if activists do show up.
- Develop a crisis communication action plan. Don’t wait for a crisis to happen before taking steps to make sure you can handle it effectively.
- Do not engage with protesters if there is a protest at your farm, facility, or an event you are attending. Be sure to remain calm.
The Animal Ag Alliance has a wealth of in-depth security resources for farms, plants and events available to our members. Contact us for more information or if we can help in any way.
Emily Solis is the communications specialist at the Animal Agriculture Alliance. In her role, she works to execute the Alliance’s issues management and communications strategy.