From civil disobedience at a California factory farm to disrupting a $,2000-per-ticket Las Vegas tech conference, a movement is rising against the world’s most powerful players to elevate animals.
In September of 2018, I held back tears as I joined a group attempting to rescue sick and injured chickens at a factory farm in Petaluma, California, which supplies to Amazon.
We’d come to the farm to demand protection of animals subjected to criminal cruelty, which we’d previously documented and submitted to authorities, chickens were found unable to stand – and therefore unable to get to food and water – slowly dying, crammed into filthy industry sheds with thousands of others.
We knew it was unlikely that the police who rushed to the scene were there to put a halt to what was happening. Still, we hoped to press the issue into the courts, where the rich and powerful wouldn’t have the luxury of not having to defend how, exactly, criminal animal cruelty was somehow legally irrelevant.
We also had hopes of removing a few chickens from the farm, some of the ones who were clearly in the most pain, including several with severely broken and contorted legs. Activists had carried nine outside and were pleading with the police to allow them to be taken to a vet, to at least be relieved of the misery they were clearly in.
I would be arrested in the hour following, along with 57 others, though I’d never so much as entered a barn. The most emotional moment of the day was when I realized that the thousands of chickens confined in the industrial sheds behind us, the individuals curled in the arms of my friends, receiving comfort and tenderness for the first time in their lives, were also not going to be able to leave.
Police told us the animals were property and must be returned to their owner. My friends sobbed as they had injured birds ripped out of their arms, begging police not to follow their orders, to no avail.
These sick and injured birds had no economic value; we knew they were going to be killed. It seemed so unfair, as they were so close to knowing what it felt like to roll around in the dust in the sun, peck in the grass.
They were denied all that because of the way society regards nonhuman animals – especially animals commonly killed for their bodies – that their lives don’t matter.
When talking about a war or a natural disaster, as the saying goes, one death is a tragedy but a million deaths is a statistic. We know the animals we share our lives with- cats and dogs- are individuals who feel joy, pain, and yes, love- individuals whose one lives matter to them.
?Those nine chickens were not objects, units reproduced in a factory line. But because we treat them that way, they become worse than anonymous – they are erased.
A cruel system
The fundamental cruelty is built into the system, enabled by modern agriculture’s carefully-crafted facade of seemingly inanimate objects, concealing the mass suffering of the sensitive individuals within. DxE is working to end this with a strategy of uncovering the truth about animal ag, because it motivates people to take action to change the system.
In response to all this – criminal animal cruelty, injured chickens literally ripped from the arms of crying activists, felony prosecutions -Amazon’s silence has been deafening. Bezos himself doubled-down when confronted personally, with a smirk and dismissive comment for the crowd, 48 hours in jail and two more felonies for me, and most significantly, continued negligence and inevitable brutality for animals.
In spite of his platitudes about saving the world, I don’t expect Bezos and Amazon to make any dramatic, immediate shifts because of our encounter on stage.
But with society at-large taking note, Amazon and the rest of society will evolve with the demands of not just the consumer, but the rising movement of compassionate people everywhere to elevate the most vulnerable.