What started as a jovial celebration of Chick-fil-A’s beloved chicken sandwich quickly devolved into chaos at one of the restaurant’s Florida locations Tuesday, when protesters created a grotesque scene — complete with fake blood and knives — to combat the all-important problem of “speciesism.”
Protesters with the group Direct Action Everywhere, an animal rights activist organization that promotes “species equality,” stormed into a Pinellas Park, Florida, Chick-fil-A during the Atlanta-based restaurant chain’s annual Cow Appreciation Day, when customers are given a free entrée if they are wearing a cow costume or cow apparel.
According to a report from Bay News 9, the demonstrators entered the restaurant chanting, “It’s not food — it’s violence!” One protester was dressed as a cow while another was wearing a chicken mask. Others were donning clothes splattered with fake blood.
Then, in front of Chick-fil-A patrons, including children, the protesters began a mock throat-slicing of the two participants dressed as animals.
“They proceeded to cut the throats of the cow and the chicken that was dressed up,” witness Tina Leacock recalled. “Thank goodness I had the kids already in the play area.”
Leacock went on to say she’s OK with the protesting, but said the demonstrators just took it way too far.
“Unfortunately, they kind of crossed the line when they proceeded to cut the throats of what were humans dressed up as a cow and a chicken,” she explained. “There’s innocent little kids there who can’t tell the difference between what’s fake and what’s real.”
But Kayla Leaming, an organizer for Direct Action Everywhere, stood by the violent demonstration. She told WTVT-TV that it was intended to push back against Cow Appreciation Day and highlight the cruelty of animal slaughter because, in her view, animals have the same rights as human beings.
The goal, she said, was to “show the reality” of what’s happening to animals slaughtered for food.
“We feel like [Cow Appreciation Day] was feeding into the speciesism that we’re trying to fight,” Leaming said. “Speciesism is basically just the idea that one life is more important than the other, simply because of the body they were born into.”
When all was said and done, the protest only lasted about five minutes, according to Leacock. But it was so graphic that Chick-fil-A actually called 911, though the demonstrators had already fled the premises by the time the police arrived at the restaurant.
Leacock blasted the protesters in a Facebook post Tuesday.
“If you have a strong opinion on something by all means you have the right to speak on it in a reasonable manner, but sham (sic) on you for your actions today!” she wrote.
Here are the unwelcome guests, thankfully I had all the children locked in the play area so they couldn't see our hear what was going on! I'm all for everyone having their own opinion, but when you come into a place full of children, with a knife in hand and proceed to cut the throats of a person dressed up as a chicken and a cow, all to get a point across, that's going to far! Mind you the knife was fake and the throats of the persons dressed up were protesters. But there were young children there who saw everything happen and couldn't tell the difference between it being real or fake. If you have a strong opinion on something by all means you have the right to speak on it in a reasonable manner, but sham (sic) on you for your actions today!
Posted by Tina Leacock on Tuesday, July 11, 2017
No one was arrested as a result of the protest.