*Graphic warning: Story contains details that may be disturbing to some readers.*
Residents gathered outside the Kelowna Law Courts on Tuesday (Aug. 25) afternoon to protest the rights of animals after Leighton Allen Labute, an alleged hamster killer, was scheduled to appear before a judge.
A number of animal rights protesters have showed up outside the Kelowna Law Courts prior to Leighton Labute's appearance later today. Labute is accused of torturing and killing three hamsters in May 2019. pic.twitter.com/7dhtGwvp8V
— Michael Rodriguez (@MichaelRdrguez) August 25, 2020
The protest began at 1 p.m. outside the Kelowna Law Courts, several hours after Labute made his second appearance by video since being charged earlier this year.
In May, Labute, 20, was charged with three counts of killing or injuring an animal and three counts of causing unnecessary pain or suffering to an animal, all of which stem from an alleged incident of him torturing hamsters in May 2019.
BoDreay Fraser organized the protest and said she wants to raise more awareness about what Labute has allegedly done, calling for a harsher punishment.
“We just want to create awareness,” said Fraser.
The Kelowna resident’s Instagram account with over 7,000 followers, which includes Labute’s name in the bio, consists largely of photos of anthropomorphic clay sculptures and dolls depicting gore and rape. The first post appears to have been created on May 1, 2016.
Fraser hopes that by creating awareness and protesting for animal rights, the alleged killer will receive a harsher sentence with the help of the community.
“The fact that he was let out almost instantly on bail with no house arrest is super concerning for our community,” said Fraser.
“We all have animals, we live on the same street as (Labute) … We need our court system to start working.”
Fraser said she is happy with the turnout, but because of COVID-19, she wanted to keep crowds to a minimum and focus more on an online following of the protest.
“The fact is with (COVID-19), I didn’t really want hundreds of people here protesting. I kind of asked people to keep it to a minimum. I wanted more online presence here following this and for this not get lost within (COVID-19) violations or any sort of rules. We want people sharing this after the fact and keeping the community aware.”