PETA's planned Aug. 12 protest in front of the Mountaire Farms poultry processing plant near Millsboro hit a snag when security staff called in Delaware State Police troopers.
“It was unfortunate because we were there to peacefully express our First Amendment rights,” said Marianne Bessey, manager of campaigns for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
Five PETA members were dropped off in front of the plant around 12:30 p.m. and were met by security personnel. “We were told we had to move because we were on private property. I explained that there was an area of public access, but they told us we were trespassing and would get arrested.”
Two DSP troopers arrived within a few minutes. “They were very courteous and professional. Once they checked with their supervisor, they acknowledged we did have the right to be on the public easement area, and they left,” Bessey said.
She added that by that point, the allotted time for the protest was nearing its end.
PETA targeted the Mountaire plant, but Bessey said the company is part of a much larger issue across the country. “Slaughterhouses are violating workers' rights and putting them at risk for COVID-19 for the sake of money,” she said.
According to PETA officials, at least 20 percent of meat processing plant workers nationwide have tested positive for COVID-19.
Bessey said the protest appealed to Mountaire's Christian creed “to be good stewards of all the assets that God has entrusted us.”
“They are killing thousands of chickens each day,” she said. “We urge these slaughterhouses to switch to making vegan foods right away. Meat is not essential.”
Bessey several other protesters could not take part in the event because parking on the property was not allowed and they had to act as shuttle drivers.
She also said the group was denied access to the property to distribute vegan chicken sandwiches and frozen vegan chicken sliders to Mountaire workers.