Screaming "meat is murder" and "stop the blood, stop the torture," two local activists in animal costumes were arrested Friday after they chained themselves and their vehicles to the drive-through of a McDonald's restaurant.
The event kicks off a nationwide protest movement by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals group against McDonald's corporation, which the group alleges allows inhumane treatment of animals on its factory farms supplying the restaurant giant with meat products.Arrested for investigation of trespassing and disorderly conduct were David Wilson and Greta Schen, both of Salt Lake City. Both were later released from the county jail. Wilson was wearing a pig suit, and Schen was dressed as a chicken during the protest.
Also initially arrested was PETA grassroots campaign director Tracy Reiman, whom two McDonald's employees said had chained Schen and Wilson to the drive-through at the downtown restaurant, 210 W. 500 South. Reiman's involvement in the actual protest was unclear. She was seen talking to media members at the Salt Palace prior to the event and then accompanied some of them on foot to the restaurant, where the protest had apparently been on-going for several minutes when she arrived.
Reiman denied chaining Schen and Wilson to the drive-through and was later released with a citation for trespassing.
PETA chose Salt Lake City at random as the starting point for its national campaign to raise awareness about the alleged practices of the fast-food giant. Among other charges, PETA alleges that farms serving McDonald's keep sows in small stalls in which they cannot turn around, cram chickens into spaces so small that they cannot stand or stretch their wings and slaughters chickens without assuring first that they are unconscious.
PETA, an organization that promotes vegetarianism and also opposes animal testing, argues that not only is the meat industry cruel but that the consumption of meat is unhealthy and leads to heart attacks, stokes and other maladies.
Meat production is big business in most of the country, and Utah is no exception. At least 70 percent of Utah's $2.5 billion in annual processed agricultural production is derived from the meat and dairy industries.
Randy Parker, marketing director with the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food, said as many as 70,000 Utah jobs rely on the meat or dairy industry in some form.
"When people are engaged in legal and long-accepted business practices, shouldn't they be allowed to do their jobs without this kind of attention?" said Parker.