It’s refreshing to see a protest being planned that is both extremely creative, and taps into a timely and press-worthy story. I’m speaking of this Saturday’s “200 Cameras, 200 Activists,” a protest against the rise of ag-gag laws — those nasty and constitutionally-suspect laws that have been popping up throughout the country aiming to make whistleblowing on factory farms illegal. This particular protest is happening at the Smith & Sons Meatpacking slaughterhouse at 12450 S. Pony Express Road in Draper, Utah (Utah is one of the states to recently adopt ag-gag legislation) on Saturday, May 18 at 2 p.m. It was inspired by a Utah woman — Amy Meyer — who was recently arrested for filming animal abuse at the slaughterhouse. After independent journalist Will Potter — who has been featured on the Our Hen House podcast — shone light on this ludicrous arrest, the case, miraculously, was dismissed.
According to the Facebook page for Saturday’s protest, Amy, who was standing on a public thoroughfare, used her phone to record the extreme animal abuse she could see occurring at Smith & Sons — a facility which is co-owned by Draper’s Mayor, Darrell H. Smith. Prior to her case being dismissed, Amy stated the following:
I visited the Smith Meatpacking Slaughterhouse in Draper, Utah because I have heard numerous reports that any bystander standing on the public thoroughfare could witness the horror of cows struggling for their lives as they were led to their violent deaths. What I saw was upsetting, to say the least. Cows being led inside the building struggled to turn around once they smelled and heard the misery that awaited them inside. I saw piles of horns scattered around the property and flesh being spewed from a chute on the side of the building. I also witnessed what I believe to be a clear act of cruelty to animals – a live cow who appeared to be sick or injured being carried away from the building in a tractor, as though she were nothing more than rubble. At all times while I documented this cruelty, I remained on public property. I never once crossed the barbed wire fence that exists to demarcate private and public property. I told this to the police who were on the scene. I am shocked and disappointed that I am being prosecuted by Draper City simply for standing on public property and documenting horrific animal abuse while those who perpetrated these acts are free to continue maiming and killing animals.
Saturday’s protest aims to attract (at least) 200 activists, who will proudly hold their phones up and document the truth, as a reminder of the constitutional rights that are put at risk by these nonsensical laws. From an organizing standpoint, incorporating creative tactics such as these not only provide a hot media story (which is a huge bonus for grassroots tactics like this protest), but also effectively gets you more bang for your buck. If 200 people take footage with their phones, for example, think of the “DIY media” that can be generated. Think of the ripple effect.
If you can’t manage to be in Draper this weekend, do note that the event page for Saturday’s protest also includes a whole list of people to contact to express your disapproval of Utah’s ag-gag law. These include policymakers, prosecutors, and owners of Smith & Sons Meatpacking Company.
To end on a positive note, you might already know that just this week, the governor of Tennessee vetoed that state’s ag-gag bill. One small step for man; one giant step for animal-kind.