Animal Rights Activists Arrested in Australia for Blocking Peak Hour Traffic

Animal Rights Activists Arrested in Australia for Blocking Peak Hour Traffic
Police move in on animal rights protesters who had blocked the intersections of Flinders and Swanston Street, in Melbourne, Australia, April 8, 2019. (Ellen Smith /AAP Image/Reuters)

MELBOURNE—Australia police arrested 38 animal rights activists on April 8 after they blocked peak hour traffic in Melbourne in protests to mark the first anniversary of a film about factory farming.

The protests were part of a wave of action in three states, where activists targeted abattoirs in the middle of the night to call for an end to all animal farming.

The documentary, directed by Chris Delforce, used drones and “undercover footage” to film feedlots and saleyards to show how some animals are treated in the production of meat, dairy, eggs, and leather.

“The industry is telling people these animals are being killed ethically, that they are being killed humanely,” Delforce told Australian Associated Press. “It’s the furthest thing from humane.”

Protestors blocked a major Melbourne intersection for two hours, stopping trams bringing thousands of commuters into the city. Further down the road, activists blocked the entrance to Melbourne’s aquarium.

Police said they had not been told in advance about the protests.

“We respect the right for people to protest peacefully but we will not tolerate anti-social behavior that disrupts the broader community,” Victoria police superintendent David Clayton said in a statement.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison, in campaign mode ahead of an election in May where farmers’ votes will be key, called the vegan protestors’ plans to storm farms and abattoirs shameful, and that the government would tighten laws to curb such action.

“I mean this is just another form of activism that I think runs against the national interest. The national interest is people being able to farm their own land,” Morrison said in an interview on 2GB radio.

In Yangan in Queensland state, 18 activists chained themselves to fixtures inside an abattoir early morning on Monday and eventually left after management agreed to release three sheep, Queensland police acting inspector Jamie Deacon told a media conference.

No charges have been laid against anyone, he said.

Farmers Angry

Attorney-General Christian Porter wrote to Privacy Commissioner Angelene Falk to consider investigating Under the Privacy Act the group allegedly behind the activism.

“There are strong grounds to conclude that Aussie Farms Inc is engaging in a systematic effort in collecting, using and disclosing personal information to the detriment of farmers and agricultural producers,” the letter dated on Monday states.

The group wants state and federal agricultural ministers to “acknowledge cruelty in the process of killing animals for food, clothing and entertainment” and to add warning labels on animal products.

Porter also wrote to the state and territory attorneys-general and police ministers to urge them to tighten up their criminal trespass laws.

Privacy laws were changed last Friday which exposed Aussie Farms’ website to significant penalties for publishing farmers’ addresses and contact details.

Nationals senator John Williams told Sky News that fines were not good enough and there was “a limit to what the farmers will put up with.”

“Farmers are not violent people. But when these people go out there and cut the fence and let the livestock out on the road, well farmers might get angry,” he said on Monday.

“And if the chips are down a bit, with the drought etc, you never know what they might do. There might be a punch-up, there might be someone hurt or whatever.

“But these people are promoting the wrong by stirring up and breaking the law.”

Queensland’s Agriculture Minister Mark Furner has pushed for farmers to help police by gathering evidence against the vegan “zealots.”

“What they are doing is breaching the law. I’m extremely angry and have really had a gutful of these people.”

Furner promised on-the-spot fines for activists would be rolled out within weeks.

French Anti-Meat Activists Jailed For Vandalizing Butchers

In Lille, northern France, French anti-meat activists who vandalized butchers shops and restaurants serving meat have been jailed by a court.

Over the past months, several groups of militant vegans and vegetarians have attacked and vandalized slaughterhouses, steak restaurants and shops selling meat, arguing that eating meat is cruel and unnecessary.

A 23-year-old man and a 26-year-old woman, who are a couple, were jailed for 10 and six months respectively for some 15 attacks between December 2018 and February, including breaking shop windows and attempts to set shops on fire with cans of gasoline.

Two other people received suspended jail terms for aiding and abetting anti-meat protests.

Compared with Germany, the Netherlands and some northern European countries, vegetarianism is relatively rare in France, where beef stew, pork chops and coq au vin are popular dishes.

By Sonali Paul from Reuters, and Christine McGinn and Pierre Savary from AAP