Rise Up protests peacefully at Smithfield plant in Tar Heel


By: Emily M. Williams, Bladen Journal (NC)

February 1, 2019


TAR HEEL — Fewer people came than a year ago, but the same message sent to Smithfield Foods was loud and clear.


Rise Up – Shut It Down, based out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and led by Jackie Affsa, organized the protest against the pork giant. The group protests on Feb. 1 each year. The event lasted about four hours and did not include any arrests.


Protestors against the slaughter of animals came from throughout the country, roughly 70 in all — down from about 200 a year ago. The Tar Heel plant operated by Smithfield Foods, which is headquartered in Smithfield, Virginia, and a subsidiary of the Chinese-owned WH Group, is the world’s largest slaughtering facility.


Liz Garrett came from Connecticut to participate. She had been here previously for a 24-hour vigil.


“I was here for the vigil and to bear witness to all the pigs that were coming by in trucks that were coming to be slaughtered,” she said. “That was a really powerful experience. It was very emotional. I had never seen anything like that before, being from the northeast.”


Garrett said she has been a vegan for 11 years.


“I have been doing a lot of animal rights activism and even more since I have been down here,” she said. “I felt I needed to come back and bear witness to the pigs again. And to stand up to what is happening here.”


She said that she felt that Smithfield didn’t care about the community, the animals or their employees.


“I just wanted to be here to stand up against that,” she said.


Plans were in place for a protest during the day Friday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., with a 12-hour vigil to follow from 9 p.m. to Saturday at 9 a.m. The daytime protest ended shortly after 3, and the vigil was cancelled when organizers were told hogs would not be brought to the plant over the weekend.


Smithfield employs about 4,400 workers at the facility on N.C. 87 and is among Bladen County’s largest employers. Smithfield’s subsidiary, Murphy-Brown, is the named defendant in more than two dozen hog nuisance lawsuits, four of which have reached verdicts in federal court. A fifth got underway Thursday.


Smithfield’s corporate office declined to comment.


“I had been vegan for over two years but I had never thought that activism was for me,” said Adolpho Lazo, who came from Miami. “I thought being vegan was enough. Then I met a couple of the activists and organizers in Miami. They inspired me to be an activist and come out and speak up for the animals, the voiceless.”


He brought his dog along with him to the protest, saying Logan goes everywhere he goes...


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