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Wendy's: Closed For Animal Cruelty?
By Brenda Shoss, Kinship Circle
Veteran activist/author Tom Regan asked listeners to envision an individual animal. Some saw a hen locked inside a lightless box, her beak amputated. Others saw a pig crammed into a narrow crate, her entire life segmented by just pregnancy and death. Such portraits compel animal advocates to persevere in a society with complete moral ambiguity about nonhuman animals. On July 3, activists from across the U.S. (including Kinship Circle ) protested outside a Wendy's in Washington DC.
One goal. One fight. Human Freedom. Animal Rights! PETA's Tracy Reiman, Jay Kelly and Lisa Lange joined film star James Cromwell inside Wendy's to chant: "Meat is murder. Boycott Wendy's!" By the time 5 buses carrying more than 300 activists ascended over Wendy's parking lot, Cromwell and cronies had been arrested and loaded into a police car. With a twinkle in his eye, the former "Farmer Hoggett" from the movie Babe mouthed the words "Boycott Wendy's."

Miyun Park of Compassion Over Killing led protesters in a series of chants. Amid curious spectators, about 35 police officers, passing cars and disgruntled Wendy's employees, a unison voice exclaimed: "One goal. One fight. Human Freedom. Animal Rights!"
Anita Carswell, of In Defense of Animals, watched as a protesters blocked cars at Wendy's drive-through. An inconvenienced fast-food fan growled, "This is b.s. Why don't you get a job?" Carswell took his offer to heart and dutifully left in search of a video camera to record the ruckus. But by the time she returned, an undercover policeman had intervened. He ordered Carswell off the property.

"I thought he was a security guard, so I just stood there," she recalls. When the cop gripped Carswell's shoulders and wrenched her right arm behind her back, two other activists tried to free her.

During the scuffle, Carswell plunged to the pavement in a swanlike dive. Moments later Sean Diener of the Utah Animal Rights Coalition managed to scale Wendy's roof and drape a "Wendy's is closed for animal cruelty" banner over the restaurant's yellow sign. Below him, chanters thundered "Stop the torture. Stop the pain. Wendy's is to blame." After 15 minutes 5 police officers hauled a passive Diener off Wendy's roof.

Diener, Cromwell and other activists — whose maneuvers assured coverage from the CNN, ABC, CBS, Associated Press and other news outlets at the demo — say they felt no fear. "For a few moments, I was on top of the place responsible for the death of thousands and thousands of animals," Diener notes. Though he sat in a cell for 9 hours and faces trespassing charges, Diener has no regrets. "I hope I inspired others in the movement. Billions of suffering animals need us to raise awareness."
With the jail tally at 5, nervous law enforcers remanded activists to the grassy areas beyond Wendy's property. They aligned themselves in a barricade between the building and the mob. But one by one, activists walked back onto the pavement to link arms in a "chain of faith." New York City attorneys Len Egert and Amy Trakinski, representing PETA as legal observers to protect protesters' rights, recorded each person's name in the event of his or her arrest.

In the past I've crouched in cages, dangled "Meat is Murder" banners, stripped to my skivvies to protest fur, and conducted enough media interviews to justify a talent agent. But I'd never risked arrest. It's difficult to describe the emotions that swept over me as I stood with my peers outside Wendy's. I only saw the impersonal thrust of a killing knife as it cut through warm flesh to dismember a sentient being. Mostly, I beheld the animals' terrified eyes.

So I stepped outside the immunity of the group to lock arms with Melissa from Utah, Eric from Massachusetts and others in the chain of faith. Face to face with the police officers who had ordered us off the pavement, I was prepared to go to jail. Fortunately, fellow St. Louis Animal Rights Team pals Janet Enoch and Colleen Tilford were on hand to help bail me out if necessary.

We weren't arrested, but in that moment I chose to defy authority, I confirmed my commitment. Eric, who was on probation for a previous animal rights action, had questioned whether he should hazard a second arrest. Reflecting the spirit of AR 2001, he decided: "I always have a chance. The animals never have a chance. It's worth every risk to take a stand for them."

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