The city of Berkeley’s Peace and Justice Commission submitted a resolution to Mayor Jesse Arreguín and City Council members Tuesday that supports nonviolent animal rights activists and protects animals in commercial operations.
The resolution comes after a series of demonstrations held by the animal activist organization Direct Action Everywhere, or DxE. The demonstrations — held at three factory farms in Sonoma County — resulted in the arrests of participating activists. Additionally, the Sonoma County District Attorney filed felony charges against six activists affiliated with DxE.
DxE member Cassie King said the demonstrations aimed to shine a light on alleged “extreme animal suffering and crimes against animals” in Sonoma County’s factory farms.
“California has one of the strongest animal cruelty laws in the United States,” reads a Berkeley City Council report. “Penal Code (PC) Section 597 makes it a crime to intentionally and maliciously maim, mutilate, torture, wound or kill an animal.”
Campus junior Cheyenne Tsai, spokesperson for the Berkeley Organization for Animal Advocacy, expressed concerns regarding the arrests of DxE members. In an email, she alleged that the arrests “are a violation of our civil liberties” under California Penal Code 597, but also stated that the authorities’ response was expected.
Despite her concerns, Tsai said she remains hopeful about the future of animal rights.
“But the tides are changing, as more ordinary people are learning about these issues and are willing to speak up and fight against such injustice,” Tsai said in the email.
Tsai added in the email that as the conversation about unjust animal agriculture grows, the pressure on elected officials increases, leading local governments to take action.
In response to the commission’s introduction of the resolution, King said she felt grateful for the show of support for her values and objectives regarding the issue of animal cruelty.
The Peace and Justice Commission has recommended the adoption of this resolution for various reasons, including the ability of activists to address animal cruelty in commercial facilities.
Although King acknowledged that California has some of the best laws to protect animals from cruelty, she does not believe the laws are being fully upheld.
Rather than adopting laws that protect animals, King said she would like to see the government thoroughly investigate cases of animal cruelty and take steps toward “enshrining rights for animals” in the law.
“We have rights that protect dogs and cats,” King said. “I would like to see those rights being passed for all animals … keep animals safe in the same way that we try to keep the humans in our borders safe.”