Student and community activists affiliated with the Berkeley Organization for Animal Advocacy marked Mother’s Day by protesting the treatment of cows by the dairy and meat industries at grocery stores Sunday evening.
About 20 individuals demonstrated inside Andronico’s Community Market and the Safeway on Shattuck Avenue, accusing the stores of condoning animal abuse by stocking meat and dairy products, and chanting slogans such as: “Animals feel pain, just like us.”
Run by UC Berkeley students and alumni, the campus group advocates the liberation of animals and aims to raise awareness of animal suffering through activist events.
“We strongly believe that animals should not be exploited in any way,” said the organization’s co-president, Justine Carion. “That means not wearing their skin, eating their flesh or drinking the milk a mother produces for her baby.”
Less than five minutes after the group’s demonstration at Safeway began, a store security agent came up to the group and demanded that they leave. As the group continued to demonstrate, the agent responded with force, ripping the group’s posters and throwing one activist’s phone to the ground. No arrests were made at the scene as Berkeley Police Department officers led the group out of the store.
During the demonstrations, the group highlighted what it termed the exploitation of cows by companies that sell and produce veal, dairy and beef products. As activists spoke out about these issues, fellow protesters handed out flyers to shoppers and held up posters depicting scenes of slaughter and artificial insemination.
“This is someone’s body,” said organization member and campus student Kitty Jones as she held a packaged meat product during the group’s demonstration in Safeway. “Their life was worth more than a few dollars a pound.”
Managers at Safeway and Andronico’s declined to comment on the proceedings. Both companies, however, have on their websites advocated the humane treatment of animals.
The animal advocacy group has organized protests outside Domino’s Pizza outlets, hosted mock funerals at pig roasts and raised more than $1,500 for a variety of animal activists and sanctuary groups during the past semester. But to many members of the group, the Mother’s Day demonstration — its final demonstration of the academic year — held special significance.
“Mother cows have their babies stolen from them, are regularly artificially inseminated against their will and slaughtered so that someone can eat a steak,” said organization member and UC Berkeley alumna Sapphire Fein. “All bonds between mother and child deserve our respect. … That’s why we’re disrupting these places of violence.”