In another display of disregard for private property and anarchy, a group of three dozen animal rights activists raided a turkey barn at the Jumbo Valley Hutterite Colony in the southwest corner of Alberta, Canada. The protesters had been dropped off by busses and arrived early in the morning before workers from the colony were on the site.
“They just showed up and walked right in,” said Frankie Hofer, manager of the colony’s poultry operations and feed mill. They were inside the barn when we arrived.”
The protest, referred to as a “liberation lockdown” by the activists, took place on Labor Day. As the workers showed up in the morning, they were surprised to find the turkey barn filled with about three dozen animal rights activists, according to an Alberta Farm Express article.
The activists inside the barn were wearing disposable coveralls, booties, gloves, and filter masks along with matching T-shirts. They sat lined up against the walls, filming, taking pictures, and live-streaming video footage to Instagram and Facebook.
The occupied turkey barn, containing about 4,000 birds, is one of eight free-range barns on the site — which means the birds are free to go outside into an enclosed area when the weather is warm enough and can access water and food when they want to.
Hofer and the other members of the colony were concerned about both the illegal break and entry and biosecurity.
“We don’t know where these people were before they showed up. They just walked into one of our barns,” said Hofer.
“This is private property. We have big signs that say, ‘Do Not Enter — Private Property.’ Even if they would have come through the main road, they would have seen the sign.”
“But that doesn’t mean anything. They jumped through the fence on the highway.”
The animal rights group didn’t have an official name or leader, according to activist Kennadi Herbert.
“The idea behind the action was to bring awareness to factory farming and animal agriculture,” said Herbert. “We’re vegan. We just want transparency into everything. A lot of people don’t want to see their food as the individuals they are. We were just wanting to show that.”
Activist Sarah Barnes said, “We wanted to make sure it got as much attention as possible. We were banking on more highway traffic.”
Social media was key to their publicity strategy, but the activists also wanted mainstream media attention and their protest drew TV crews from Calgary, said the Alberta Farm Express article.
Herbert said when she called 911 and asked for police to come down and mediate the “negotiations” with colony officials, the 911 operator laughed.
“The dispatcher said, ‘If you’re in there illegally, the RCMP won’t be defending you guys,’” according to the Alberta Farm Express article.
Barnes, Herbert, and another activist named Max Mah, who is affiliated with an anarchist animal rights group called “Direct Action” joined the media on their tour.
Sarah Barnes admitted the true nature of the protest:
“We’re not advocating for better conditions or a better way of doing the wrong thing,” she said.
“We’re about animal rights. Animals deserve the right to be free. Even if a farm treats animals well, at the end of the day, they get sent to slaughter.
“We’re not for animal welfare, we’re definitely animal rights, and will try to make sure these animals don’t need to be slaughtered.”
Herbert said that the “Liberation Lockdown” was deemed a success by the activists, and more protests like this one are being planned all over the world, which could include Alberta.
“Whether there are more actions that I am involved in, or more actions around the world, there will definitely be more civil disobedience in the animal rights movement,” she said.