Local Berkeley establishments targeted by animal rights activists

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Catherine Wallin/Staff

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After weeks of protests by animal rights activist group Direct Action Everywhere, or DXE, since April, The Local Butcher Shop on Shattuck Avenue ceded to demands of DXE protesters, namely by posting a sign on the business’s window reading, “Attention: Animals’ lives are their right. Killing them is violent and unjust, no matter how it’s done.”

In exchange, DXE agreed to limit its protests of the shop to twice a year.

“We did end up negotiating with them primarily out of respect to our neighbors, who were pretty fed up with the bull horns and yelling and shouting every night,” said Monica Rocchino, one of the owners of The Local Butcher Shop.

DXE advocates for total animal liberation — which holds that there is “never a humane way to kill someone who does not want to die,” according to DXE activist Cassie King.

The protests occurred on the public sidewalk in front of The Local Butcher Shop every Sunday for 12 weeks — a time when the shop hosted butchery classes for the community.

DXE gave the owners of The Local Butcher Shop options ranging from ending the store’s butchery classes to turning the entire butchery vegan.

“They aren’t comfortable with that (option) yet,” King said. “But that is the ultimate goal that we have with every institution that is exploiting animals in Berkeley.”

The owners were told their store was targeted for multiple reasons, including its close proximity to DXE headquarters and because the nearby public sidewalk made for “a great training ground” as opposed to a private property of a restaurant or a grocery store, Rocchino said.

Private property laws, however, have not stopped DXE protests in the past.

The DXE protesters have also previously targeted Chez Panisse, an acclaimed restaurant in the North Berkeley neighborhood. Protesters have entered and “dramatically” disrupted customers’ evenings, according to Jennifer Sherman, Chez Panisse’s general manager.

“People wait a really long time to come here — for their 50th anniversary, or when they’re proposing to someone. … It’s incredibly upsetting,” Sherman said.

Chez Panisse does not intend to negotiate with DXE, according to Sherman.

“We are a restaurant that serves meat and we serve the most carefully vetted and sourced meats  — and we believe in that,” Sherman said.

Sherman added, however, that they respect DXE’s right to protest and will do their best to find a space for the group to express their opinion, hoping the “community can express tolerance.” In addition, Sherman suggested DXE can shift its focus to “establishments that are part of the industrial meat process that are egregious abusers of human and animal rights.”

While DXE organizer Matt Johnson said the group protests against any place “where that violence is happening or anywhere where that violence is normalized,” DXE continues to protest smaller businesses.

“If you go to a big chain — I mean, who is going to respond to them? A CEO of a company is not going to come out and talk to them. With a small business, they have a larger voice,” Monica Rocchino said.  

DXE protested Comal, a modern Mexican restaurant located on Shattuck Avenue, on Wednesday evening, escalating into a citizen’s arrest for battery and trespassing, as reported by East Bay Times. Berkeley Police Department could not be reached as of press time to verify the arrest. The protesters returned Thursday, marching from the BPD station on Martin Luther King Jr. Way to Comal.

“I just thought it was interesting because there are other places that serve meat and they chose this one, and, I don’t know, it seems fine,” said Comal customer Kendall Fulton after Thursday’s protest.

Johnson said the “pressure campaign” approach to protest local shops, as opposed to national businesses such as Costco, allows the activist group to achieve a “localized victory.”

King added that the strategy will be implemented at other local institutions until “every business in Berkeley owns up to this reality.”

They also hope to make change on a national scale — King cited the organization’s goal to pass “a constitutional amendment that would give them protection under the law.”

Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín issued an emailed statement Friday regarding the recent protests outside of The Local Butcher Shop:

“I respect people’s passion for social causes as well as their right to express their opinions but the recent action undertaken by animal rights protesters against The Local Butcher Shop is harassment — plain and simple,” the statement read. “Demanding that the store hang a sign stating the group’s views in exchange for an end to protests is coercive, improper and not the way to treat a much-loved local business. Our independent stores are the lifeline of our community and should not be harassed for simply doing their jobs.”

Contact Alicia Kim at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @aliciackim.

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  • Savvy

    And what if the war already exists, but their freedom from the daily grind allows them the opportunity to fight it?

  • Savvy

    Makes sense. Sounds like something Yourofsky would say :)

  • Leila Blanc

    Easy way to make money is through Emini S&P Trading Secret and it goes beyond expectation.

  • Anony Mouse

    Classic vegetarianism makes a great deal of sense. Veganism is just another fundamentalism, trying to force their sometimes bizarre interpretation of the world on everyone else.

    • lspanker

      I have no problem with people who make vegetarianism (or even veganism) a PERSONAL CHOICE. I do have a problem with these people who think they have some special dispensation to force their change on others.

    • Savvy

      Veganism is just a type of vegetarianism. Vegans are strict vegetarians. There isn’t a lot of difference in their worldviews. Why would one be vastly worse?

    • Jenna MIles

      But if one becomes vegetarian for ethical reasons, why would they continue to support the meat and dairy industries, which are even worse? And veganism is not just about diet, it is also about what you will or will not do or wear or support. So a vegetarian will technically wear fur or go to seaworld, a vegan will not.

  • flashsteve

    I’m not sure what the definition of ‘extortion’ is. I believe it has to do with money. This would have been extortion if the shop paid money to the protesters in order for them to stop, but since it just required posting a notice that will have no effect on their business, or the killing and eating of animals, it ends up being just short of a crime. Chez Panisse will be a more interesting case, if they stick to their guns and do not negotiate (capitulate).

  • rychastings

    sounds like extortion to me

    • lspanker

      ’tis what it is…

  • Jenna MIles

    See what ‘humane’ looks like. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yU4PJCuslD0

  • Jenna MIles

    Animals are individuals. All those who are complaining about ‘bullying’ should remember who the real victims are. And it is not the shop owners. It is the dead animals whose bodies are lying in pieces in their store. What these activists are doing is standing up for those who cannot stand up for themselves.

    • DarkStarCrashes

      What about plants? Give me an argument that they do not have agency, feeling, and a will-to-live (which are all the same anyway).

      • Danielle Tran

        Plants have no nervous system, therefore they are not sentient.

        • flashsteve

          You might want to do a little research. Sentient means ‘capable of feeling’, and nobody really knows if plants feel. They do exhibit behavior that indicates feeling, but it is not conclusive. Your definition is made up and self-serving.

        • Palidd

          Fish don’t have nervous systems so they aren’t sentient?

          • Savvy

            Slept through biology?

          • lspanker

            Given that you missed the part where humans are omnivores by nature, you’re in no position to lecture others.

          • Savvy

            So you also think that fish have no nervous system? And what’s your definition of omnivore?

        • DarkStarCrashes

          Plants strive, clinging to existence just like all other living beings. In many cases they quite clearly recoil from that which harms them, and they are able to send signals to one another.

          What are the reasons to cut off “sentience” at the boundary between beings with and without nervous systems?

    • lspanker

      Animals get killed and eaten by other animals all the time. What do you plan to do about that?

    • SecludedCompoundTTYS

      They were bred you dumbstruck dumbshit and this restaurant said it sources responsibly.

  • Jenna MIles

    I am quite frankly surprised they were able to do it. I did not think I would see the day.

    • Palidd

      Yup you managed to piss of thousands of people in the bay area.. I am going to this shop just in spite of what has happened.. going to eat some piglets tonight and dedicate it to your group =)

      • lspanker

        Do these people even have real jobs?

  • DarkStarCrashes

    Whoa, I’m astounded that Jesse took a stand on this issue.

  • Merry Runaround

    Typical shakedown artists: “Hey, this is a nice restaurant you’ve got here. It would be a pity if mob of vegans decided to come by and squawk at your customers during the dinner hour… “

  • Jack Spencer

    These people DO NOT give a damn about animals. They are only interested in getting in others business. Making a spectacle of themselves, and telling others how to live.
    (An Ex Animal Rights Activist who finally saw the truth)

    • Savvy

      Even if they do care, their disrespect towards humans undermines the cause.

      • Jenna MIles

        What makes you think we have disrespect for people?

        • Savvy

          When I went vegan, it was after 6 or 7 years of slow transition from a vegetarian lifestyle. If I’d been forced to change by someone who was threatening to annoy me until I changed, it would’ve soured the whole transition. I wouldn’t be truly committed. It would’ve felt disrespectful to me to have someone force-feed vegan ideology to me. As an alternative, I prefer a more diplomatic style of activism that meets people where they are and moves them in the proper direction in alignment with their personal will.

          • Nunya Beeswax

            But Savvy, diplomatic activism isn’t nearly as satisfying for the activist.

          • Savvy

            I am definitely a more introverted individual so that could have a lot to do with my preferences. An outgoing activist would probably prefer to “take it to the streets.”

          • Jenna MIles

            The kind you are talking about will not work on a societal level. The goal of direct action is to create tension, to force society to pay attention, not so much to make individuals change. But to create conversations. As we are now doing.

            Martin Luther King, Jr. Quotes. We who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive.

            Non-violent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and establish such creative tension that a community that has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored… I am not afraid of the word tension. I have earnestly worked and preached against violent tension, and there is a type of constructive tension that is necessary for growth.
            –Martin Luther King, Jr. 1963

          • lspanker

            Your’e a bit confused. MLK had a legitimate beef about human beings who were denied rights based on the color of their skin. You merely want to force your dietary preferences on others.

          • Savvy

            Animal activists are promoting a lifestyle, not a dietary preference. They are also opposed to animal testing, zoos, fur farming, pet mills, etc.

    • Jenna MIles

      Oh yes, everyone wants to get assaulted.

      Clearly you were never an animal rights activists if you do not understand why this is not a personal choice.

      • DarkStarCrashes

        People have complex minds with lots of unconscious processes going on. I believe some animal rights activists actually care, but most are ultimately egoists who have tricked themselves into thinking they authentically care.

        • Savvy

          Is that a belief based on some sort of logical foundation? Why would you assume most are uncaring egoists instead of a small minority?

          • lspanker

            I call it “empirical evidence” – plenty of grandstanding and virtue-signaling by pathetic attention wh*res who think that civilization itself hangs on the success of their pet (no pun intended) cause…

          • Savvy

            This may come as a shock to you…but you’ve once again confused fact and opinion. You’re free to be irrationally hateful if you like without having to pretend like you have some sort of valid reason. Just embrace what you are.

          • lspanker

            Being critical of kooky people who seek to shove their dietary preferences down my throat isn’t “hateful”.

          • Savvy

            Yeah. I always call people that I don’t hate “pathetic attention whores” as well. Inconsistency just makes life more fun!

          • lspanker

            I always call people that I don’t hate “pathetic attention wh*res” as well.

            What above did I say that was factually incorrect? These people live to protest in public and make a scene. It helps them pretend they are making a difference in the world.

          • Savvy

            Expressing opinions as facts doesn’t make them facts. For example, saying “I call it ’empirical evidence'” doesn’t actually mean that your personal opinions are actually what the scientific community would consider “empirical evidence.”

            And everyone makes a difference in the world whether they intend to or not (simply by existing and interacting with the world around them). They happen to know the change they want to see and work single-mindedly towards that goal.

          • Jenna MIles

            Personal choices have no victims. So diet is not one of them. Even if you take the murdered animals out of it.

          • DarkStarCrashes

            Sorry, I shouldn’t have used a word as strong as “believe.” “Suspect” would probably have been better. It’s more of an intuition that comes from growing up in/living in Berkeley and being around/interacting with extremists of this sort. There’s a kind of self-righteous fire there that does not seem like it is really coming from a fountain of compassion.

        • Jenna MIles

          You are incorrect. it is more like the pain of doing something is not as bad as the pain of doing nothing. Of course, activism is the only way we can live with ourselves. In our view, we don’t just get to live our lives we are obligated to at least try to make the world better.

  • mercurywoodrose

    they have a point, of course, about killing animals for food. if you cannot accept rapid death after a life of free range w/o threat of predators as a fair exchange for domesticated subspecies (which i do), you have to end all slaughter of domesticated animals for ANY reason, and decide which level of animal life cannot be harvested: shrimp, sardines, krill and insects/worms perhaps. then, as the carrying capacity of earth for humans is limited, you must shrink the human population to reduce animal protein intake. id say, maybe to 500 million. stop women from having more than 2 kids. also, you would have to change the food habits of a species that is by nature omnivorous and that requires animal protein (we are top chain predators in addition to being plant foragers). so, good luck with all that. this will take at least a couple of centuries. this is nowhere near as easy to change as slavery, and we still have that for god sakes.

  • lspanker

    Take a look at those scrawny, haggard people in that photo. Do you think those people are ever happy about anything?

    • Jenna MIles

      I know we are.

      • lspanker

        The only time you people seem happy is when you are trying to shove your wacko ideas down everyone else’s throats…

      • SecludedCompoundTTYS

        You do know that we breed animals and they would never have lived? And you do know there is 100’s of millions of people in India alone trying to climb out of 3rd world poverty and are never going to be able to be vegan or stop using fossil fuels. But seriously, do you want animals to be extinct because pigs would be if they weren’t so delicious.

        • Savvy

          Veganism isn’t a luxury. Beans and grains are cheap. It’s meat and dairy that are expensive.

          • lspanker

            And if I pay for that meat and dairy myself, who are you to get in my way?

          • Savvy

            Try reading before posting. My response had nothing to do with what you are saying.

          • lspanker

            Try answering my question. If I pay for my own food, and it’s not illegal, what the f–k does it matter to you what I eat?

          • Savvy

            I’ll happily answer your question once it’s relevant. Here’s a recap of what is relevant:

            SecludedCompoundTTYS said “…you do know there is 100’s of millions of people in India alone trying to climb out of 3rd world poverty and are never going to be able to be vegan…

            I said “Veganism isn’t a luxury. Beans and grains are cheap. It’s meat and dairy that are expensive.”
            At no point did I say anything about what should or should not be bought or getting in the way of anyone trying to do so. My response had everything to do with the fact that a vegan diet is amazingly inexpensive. No one would need to “climb out of poverty” to be vegan. They would, however, need to “climb out of poverty” to eat plenty of animals and their secretions.

          • DarkStarCrashes

            You are correct on these points.

    • Savvy

      Having a healthy BMI and low body fat percentage doesn’t mean you’re “scrawny.” It means you’re healthy. Would you prefer for them to be obese and sick from diet-related illness?

      • lspanker

        I’m not referring to having a healthy BMI or being in good physical shape. Those 2 women who are most prominent in that photo look pale and sickly – I would find it hard to believe that they are ever happy people or pleasant to be around…

        • Savvy

          Ah. So your really just talking about your personal prejudices. I made the mistake of assuming that you were being objective and logical.

          • lspanker

            I AM logical. Animals eat other animals, that’s how we evolved. It’s fruit-cakes like vegans and the gender-confused who make a lifeline cause of fighting Nature…

          • Savvy

            Ah. So you believe they are scrawny and haggard, but actually meant that you perceive two people as pale and sickly…and now that pale sickliness means they are also unnatural fruitcakes who are also confused about their gender. You’re watertight logic somehow initially escaped me. My bad.

          • lspanker

            I’m willing to bet they are both miserable creatures – their expressions speak volumes.

  • ClayShentrup

    As a vegan living in Berkeley, I commend these courageous individuals for their efforts to denormalize the barbaric abuse of the meat industry.

    • Bacvarovski Toni

      so why they/ you don’t attack the meat industry, but a small local business? Or you show courage only to helpless family shop? OMG so brave?

      • Jenna MIles

        Because it is all the meat industry. It all hurts animals, no matter how small or local it is. Plus even small local businesses help perpetuate the myth of humane murder and help prop up the larger stores.

        • lspanker

          BTW, lemme answer the question on your avatar. I have eaten dog twice before and I don’t care for it, as it has a particularly rancid and greasy taste about it, typical of eating other carnivores.

          • SecludedCompoundTTYS

            Because one is smelly, stinky and rolls in its own shit…many less affluent countries do eat dog, and they breed a certain dog for eating. I ate it in Saigon, Vietnam at a restaurant district that specifically only sold dog. I’m not saying it’s right, I love dogs but in america we don’t breed dogs to eat and in 3rd world countries they do.

          • Savvy

            Watch an undercover video of a pig farm sometime. They’re usually covered in feces (which would also make them smelly and stinky). Chickens are covered in plenty of nastiness as well (due to extreme confinement), and workers often have to wear respirators when they are in the chicken housing to protect their lungs.

          • SecludedCompoundTTYS

            interesting…I will try to find one on youtube to see what you are talking about!

    • lspanker

      Yeah right, whatever. It’s SO “courageous” to protest in a town so overcome with political correctness that nobody will openly challenge your loony assertions.

      • ClayShentrup

        Yes, it is courageous. Berkeley isn’t the vegan-friendly leftie place it’s often stereotyped as being. You have a lot of wealthy people buying fancy artisinal bacon and what not—it’s a very “foodie” culture in the Bay Area.

        Even our “progressive” mayor is criticizing them.

        • lspanker

          Let’s see how courageous you would be at a BBQ place in Oakland or Richmond preaching your vegan nonsense to others…

          • Jenna MIles

            Have you not seen the BBQ disruptions from all over the world with activists being assualted, arrested, and dragged?

          • lspanker

            Well, that’s what happens when you act like total @ssholes. The rest of the world isn’t like Berkeley, which seems to feel compelled to put up with this type of [email protected] in the name of political correctness.

          • SecludedCompoundTTYS

            no I haven’t, can you send me the link?

          • Jenna MIles

          • SecludedCompoundTTYS

            That is horrible, any videos of protesters in the US and not in Paris. I’m surprised they even have a smoker in Paris as they do not have much BBQ in Paris or not in the US in general. Now I want beef ribs…mmm….have you tried those ever?!? I’m serious

          • Jenna MIles
    • Savvy

      It just doesn’t feel like a victory to get them to hang a sign that they don’t agree with. I’d rather the activists succeed in changing minds and hearts.

      • Jenna MIles

        The point is people are going to see it. We cannot focus on changing minds on an individual level, or we will never succeed. We need to think on a societal level.

        • Palidd

          The only thing people will see here is a group who is pushing their ideology onto others who don’t feel the same way. This is as much a win as a 5-year-old getting a toy after causing too much racket, eventual people will start ignoring this group and the message will be mute. No change happens by forcing it down peoples throat.

        • Savvy

          But will the people who see the sign make a change? Maybe it’s just meant to be a conversation starter?

        • lspanker

          We cannot focus on changing minds on an individual level, or we will never succeed.

          Is that your way of admitting that you can’t win others over to your way of thinking on the merits of your argument, and need to use intimidation and coercion instead?

          • Savvy

            The percentage of the population that identifies as vegetarian / vegan is is increasing every year. This either means that the activists are actually effective or that people are going to make the change anyway. Whichever is true, we all win. Even the stubborn omnivores will benefit from lower insurance costs, cleaner water, etc.

          • lspanker

            The percentage of the population that identifies as vegetarian / vegan is is increasing every year.

            That’s wonderful – how many decades do you estimate it will take to get to 1% of the population again?

          • Savvy

            Your data is a bit old.

          • lspanker

            So what credible data do YOU think you have?

          • Savvy

            The burden of proof doesn’t lie with me. You made the claim that less than 1% of the population identifies as vegan / vegetarian. I call BS until you can back it up.

          • lspanker

            I asked you a questions: what credible date do YOU have that suggests that vegans are anywhere near 1% of the population?

          • Savvy

            Oh. Well when you put it that way: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vegetarianism_by_country
            Took 2 minutes to google/read/post this. Put a little effort into life. And I’d still be highly interested to see a justification for your estimate.

          • SecludedCompoundTTYS

            so 1.5% are vegan in the most affluent young society in history, your point? I agree veganism is great for those who can do it, but it’s just not gonna help your cause to alienate people who will never change. These events have nothing to do with converting more vegans IMO.

          • Savvy

            I originally said “The percentage of the population that identifies as vegetarian / vegan is increasing every year.” And the wiki page shows a 6-7% range for vegans in the US and a similar number for vegetarians in the US (with a total of about 13%). That’s a big increase compared to the older numbers. India has more than a quarter of its population that identifies as either vegetarian or vegan.

            And I agree that animal rights activists would do better to use tactics that are inclusive and supportive. This particular event seems divisive to me. Maybe a little good came from it, but I suspect that it’s outweighed by the bad.

          • Jenna MIles

            Of course not. Just that we would be doing it forever. We need to combine the two. Individuals and society. BTW, the fact that we are even talking about animal rights is a success, and the goal of the whole thing.

          • Jenna MIles

            Oh yes, non violent protests are so intimidating. Plus, name one social justice movment that never used these methods.

    • SecludedCompoundTTYS

      you do know these animals are bred to be eaten and pigs would be extinct if they weren’t delicious.

      • Savvy

        Ever hear of wild pigs? They aren’t extinct, and it’s not because they’re “delicious.”

        • lspanker

          That depends on how you prepare them. I have it on good authority says that a chipotle-mustard-tabasco rub with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, and low and slow heat with plenty of slightly damp mesquite chips for smoking, makes for some mighty fine wild boar carnitas…

          • Savvy

            You either misread my reply or you have difficulty with reading comprehension. Your entire statement is irrelevant.

          • lspanker

            Come back when you have a point to make…

          • Savvy

            You are aware that this is not a physical location, right?

          • SecludedCompoundTTYS

            cows? My point is we would probably have a few more polar bears around if people wanted to eat them. I do agree there are outliers, but many species of pigs would go extinct as well as many species of other animals because they cannot survive in the wild. Maybe that’s due to what we’ve done in the past (no doubt) but it is reality.

          • Savvy

            I agree that raising animals for livestock sustains that particular species. I just think there are better ways.

          • SecludedCompoundTTYS

            completely agree! Now lets try to find a solution rather than alienating the other side.

      • Jenna MIles

        Oh yes, lucky pigs

  • Hellmut Meister

    What is the address of DXE?

    • lspanker

      5150 Nutcase Drive…

      • PNMV

        I think they’re in the tunnel on Bancroft, by the Maoists.

        • lspanker

          Given that they like to pull their arguments out of some smelly dark place, I wouldn’t be surprised…

    • SecludedCompoundTTYS

      good questions, let me know if you find out. I find this behavior unacceptable.