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Kelowna animal rights activists arrested before protest could begin

Amy Soranno and Nick Schafer were arrested before they could make it out the door
Meat the Victims activists and police face off at Hybrid Turkeys in Ontario. (Agnes Cseke/Contributed)

Prominent Kelowna animal rights activists Amy Soranno and Nick Schafer were scheduled to join fellow activists at a turkey farm in Ontario for a planned demonstration.

But before they could make it out the door to meet everyone else at Hybrid Turkeys, they were arrested by Waterloo Regional Police.

Soranno said it was an unexpected confrontation.

“Some (were) being dragged from their cars and slammed on the ground, despite none of us resisting arrest or doing anything other than leaving our homes to attend a protest,” she said.

“We were all charged with attempted break and enter and attempted mischief, and were taken into custody.”

In all, there were four other activists arrested along with Schafer and Soranno: Jen Deighan-Schenk, David Magina, Bridget Armastus and Kirsten Little.

Schafer said they weren’t doing anything wrong.

“We have a right as Canadians to protest and we were simply trying to exercise that right. All we did was walk out the doors of our accommodations before being ambushed and arrested,” he said.

Despite the main organizers all getting arrested hours before the protest was supposed to start, it still went ahead, albeit not quite as planned. The fact that it still went on, however, is something Soranno is proud of, as it still got the word out about the cruel conditions of factory farms.

“We brought attention to the sickening cruelty that occurs at Hybrid Turkeys, the world’s largest turkey supplier,” she said.

“With no laws for on-farm animal welfare, and no government inspectors to proactive monitor farm conditions, one of the only ways that abuse on farms has been brought to light is when whistleblowers and activists expose it.”

She added that animal agriculture gag laws, such as one that has been introduced in Ontario which cracks down on animal rights activists, are proof of the lack of transparency when it comes to animal agriculture.

“Aggressively tracking us down and arresting us, filling up jail cells with peaceful activists and deploying several dozen police to stand in a line surrounding the perimeter of Hybrid Turkeys is an alarming use of police resources,” she said.

“I’m still trying to put together the pieces as to why and how the police are putting so many resources into stopping and silencing peaceful protestors when there are rampant violent crimes that require these resources,” Schafer said.

As Thanksgiving draws closer, Soranno had this to say.

“Our choices as consumers matter. Since we don’t need to eat animals, the best and easiest thing we can all do to protect animals is simply leave them off our plates,” she said.

“This violence will stop when we stop paying for it to happen.”

Soranno and Schafer are two of the “Excelsior 4” — animal rights activists who organized a similar protest at Abbotsford’s Excelsior Hog Farm. Soranno and Schafer, along with Roy Sasano and Geoff Regier, are facing 21 charges altogether.

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Twila Amato

About the Author: Twila Amato

Twila was a radio reporter based in northern Vancouver Island. She won the Jack Webster Student Journalism Award while at BCIT and received a degree in ancient and modern Greek history from McGill University.
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