SALT LAKE CITY — The actor who held "Babe" in his arms in the popular 1995 film of the same name walked into the Utah Capitol Tuesday morning holding a dead piglet.
James Cromwell joined a crowd of more than 100 protesters with animal rights group Direct Action Everywhere as they gathered in front of the Capitol and, holding several dead young pigs, walked in with the intent of delivering a message to the governor and attorney general, "demanding" that action be taken in response to alleged animal cruelty at Smithfield Foods' Circle Four Farms in Milford, Beaver County.
The demonstrators also petitioned for charges to be dropped against activists accused of taking two sick piglets from Circle Four in 2017.
The group found the Utah Attorney General's Office locked but were greeted shortly thereafter by Michael Mower, Gov. Gary Herbert's deputy chief of staff, who listened to their concerns.
"We appreciate all of you coming up and in a respectful manner sharing this important message. I promise as the governor's deputy chief of staff, I'll share this with the governor and with the lieutenant governor, and with others on his staff as appropriate," Mower said. "They can review some of the issues that you've raised here today."
Members of the group then gave speeches from the steps in the Capitol rotunda, including Cromwell and Wayne Hsiung, a lawyer and the group’s co-founder. Hsiung is also one of the individuals facing charges in the Smithfield.
Members of the group then left the Capitol to head for Milford, where they planned to demand that Circle Four management open its doors to allow activists to inspect conditions and provide care to animals in need.
Jeremy Beckham, who works in Utah as a PETA research associate, said Beaver County has asked the group to not come.
"They're just trying to peaceably assemble on public property, and Beaver County doesn't want people speaking the truth about what's happening inside the facility," Beckham said.
Cromwell said those who are facing charges for "rescuing" pigs from the farm are heroes, and he believes the Utah government doesn't want to "face the truth" of animal abuse.11 comments on this story
"This is what you're killing," Cromwell said of the dead piglets. "Do you want to do this? As a country, as a people, … as Christians, do you want to do this?"
The Utah Attorney General's Office in May charged Hsiung, 36, of Berkeley, Calififornia; Paul Picklesimer, 40, of Berkeley; Samer Thomas Masterson, 24, of San Francisco; Andrew George Sharo, 24, of Berkeley; and Jonathan Frohnmayer, 33, of Santa Clara, California, with engaging in a pattern of unlawful activity, two counts of burglary committed against an animal enterprise, and theft of livestock, all second-degree felonies. All but Masterson were also charged with riot, a class A misdemeanor.