Animal activists arrested at farm protest

Nearly 100 people were arrested Monday afternoon at a protest by an animal rights group at a duck farm near Petaluma, authorities said.

The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office said deputies responded about 10 a.m. Monday to Reichert Duck Farm on the 3700 block of Middle Two Rock Rd. in unincorporated southwest Sonoma County.

Early in the incident a group of ten protesters with the group Direct Action Everywhere stormed inside, took some ducks off the property and held them in their arms as they sat in a row on the fence line.

The group says one of its members was hurt when he put his head on a conveyor belt.

“They chained themselves to that line where the ducks get their feet hanged. The workers actually hit the lever to start it up while the activists were attached,” said Paul Picklesimer of Direct Action Everywhere, who said one activist was hospitalized.

They were detained and ultimately arrested; a subsequent daylong protest ensued with protesters chaining themselves by the neck using metal chains, padlocks and bike locks.

Direct Action Everywhere said in a news release that about 600 activists were at the duck slaughterhouse and dozens planned to lock their necks to the slaughterhouse shackles and machinery.

The sheriff’s office issued a Nixle alert around 1:20 p.m. advising people to stay away from the facility. Roads were blocked, pedestrians were in the street and traffic was congested, according to the sheriff’s office.

Around 4 p.m., protesters remained and demanded to be arrested, with many unlocking themselves in order to be arrested. The Wilmar Fire Department was called to cut the remaining protesters’ locks leaving them free to be arrested.

A total of 98 protesters were arrested and were being booked into the Sonoma County jail, mostly for trespassing charges, the sheriff’s office said.

Direct Action Everywhere said the Reichardt Duck Farm slaughters a million ducks annually and is the subject of numerous reports of animal cruelty.

While many people regard ducks as food, the group insists they should not be killed.

“Our culture does involve eating a lot of animals and that’s the way it’s been for a long time. But so many things that we couldn’t imagine that weren’t possible 20 years ago, they happened and they happened faster than we could have imagined,” Picklesimer said. “So that’s what we’re trying to do today, we’re trying to take dramatic action to create change.”

Dozens of animal rights activists were arrested in September at a farm that supplies starving animals to Petaluma Poultry, the activist group said.

This weekend, a member of the group walked on stage and grabbed a microphone out of the hand of Kamala Harris, a democratic candidate for president who was speaking at a forum in San Francisco.

Picklesimer admitted that not everybody even within his organization thought it helped their cause.

“Yeah, we have a lot of enthusiastic activists who do things to get the message out. And when that happens, we want to look at our message, and we always want to deliver our message in the best way possible,” said Picklesimer. “Sometimes we’ll do excellent work with that and sometimes we could have improvement.”

And so we’ll always be trying to do our best job to advocate for this important cause.”

Dozens of animal rights activists were arrested in September at a farm that supplies starving animals to Petaluma Poultry, the activist group said. A preliminary hearing for six protesters is scheduled for August in Sonoma County Superior Court.

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