Animal rights activists set up camp deep in the heart of Brooklyn Monday night to protest an ancient ritual in which religious Jews swing chickens to atone for their sins ahead of Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement.
John Di Leonardo, president of the group Long Island Orchestrating for Nature, said he estimates about 50,000 chickens are slaughtered in Brooklyn each year as part of the practice.
"Fifty thousand chickens is nothing to laugh about," said Di Leonardo. "Its 50,000 lives that are being snuffed out."
As the evening progressed, dozens of the animal rights activists marched to the cordoned-off area where the actual ritual was taking place, chanting pleas for the birds' lives and for better treatment. They were met with jeers, chants and general amusement from many of the locals observing the ceremony.
"We know it's a spiritual thing," argued one Orthodox Jewish man, who declined to give his name. "We know the sin goes to the chicken."
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