Whole Foods has gone to court to seek an injunction against the California-based animal rights group Direct Action Everywhere, which has repeatedly targeted its California stores with an escalating series of protests.
According to KPIX-TV, members of Direct Action Everywhere occupied a Whole Foods store in the Noe Valley neighborhood of San Francisco last Monday. Some activists reportedly chained themselves to the store, blocked aisles, and hoisted a giant poster of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. Amazon acquired Whole Foods in August of 2017. Police arrested more than 30 people during that protest, and charged them with a variety of relatively minor offenses.
The group has targeted a number of Whole Foods locations in California over the last year-plus, alleging that Whole Foods obtains some of its meat from farms that are guilty of cruelty against animals. Whole Foods denies the charges.
According to Eater San Francisco, Direct Action Everywhere members have, in the past, protested at Whole Foods stores while covered in fake blood, intentionally blocked aisles, and engaged in otherwise disruptive protests against Whole Foods for years. Last year, the group's protests at Whole Foods' Berkeley store required the grocery chain to seek and obtain an injunction against the group from protesting against five California stores that were the most frequent targets of Direct Action Everywhere protests.
The group has also in the past planned #OccupyWholeFoods protests designed to shut down operations in various California locations. Whole Foods is now seeking a statewide injunction banning all Direct Action Everywhere members from all California locations.
In their court filing, Whole Foods claimed that the expanded injunction was necessary because of last Monday's protests, as well as a number of other protests, including an Aug. 18 protest at Whole Foods in San Diego, in which 50 members of the group allegedly laid down in an aisle in a deliberate attempt to obstruct customers.
A spokesperson for the group told Eater San Francisco that even if the judge issues the injunction, the group will consider continuing its protests, saying, "There could be a future scenario where as a massive group [we] deliberately step across this, because what we're talking about is criminal animal cruelty."