Animal Activists Face Felony Charges for Rescuing Dying Birds
By Diane Gandee Sorbi
I'm one of six activists currently facing up to 10 years in federal prison. Our crime? We walked onto a factory farm and carried out a pair of dying turkeys from among thousands languishing in a filthy shed. We then rushed them to a vet for life-saving medical care.
The farm I visited is owned by Norbest, a company that sells turkeys in rural Utah. Its marketing showcases a gorgeous alpine vista and sprawling meadows with "mountain-grown" turkeys.
But the reality we found was a nightmare. The birds were crammed into filthy industrial sheds by the thousands. I saw gaping head wounds, turkeys struggling to stand in their own feces and dying birds amongst the living.
During another visit, on a particularly frigid night, the team spotted a lump in the middle of the road. This something revealed herself to be someone—a young turkey later named Grace. She had likely fallen from a transport truck and, against all odds, had survived her injuries.
Grace was wrapped in a blanket and received personal care before a vet appointment the following morning. She would occasionally make eye contact, accompanied by a gentle chirp. Unfortunately, the vet explained, both of her fragile legs were broken and she had extensive internal injuries. The kindest thing we could do was to let her go. Her small body was given one last kiss before her breathing stopped.
Grace was a precious individual who was never given a chance at life, like millions of other turkeys trapped on farms across the country. Unlike her brothers and sisters, she was at least shown compassion and a gentle touch in her last hours. That makes her, disturbingly, one of the lucky ones.
As a 63-year-old retiree residing in the San Francisco Bay Area, I spend much of my free time volunteering at local animal shelters. I will always consider any opportunity to help those less fortunate, including animals.
And I am not alone. Most Americans care deeply about the suffering of animals; a 2017 study found that nearly half of Americans would support a total ban on slaughterhouses. Yet animals on industrial farms remain largely unseen, unable to speak for themselves. With 85 million families across the U.S. having animal companions whom they love as family members, our connection to other species is already intense, and need only to be expanded beyond traditional "pets." I've witnessed this same interspecies loving kinship between my friends and their rescued chickens, pigs, cows and turkeys. I have seen not only the cruelty that industrial farming inflicts on the animals caught in its cogs, but also the beauty of a turkey who steps outside for the first time in her life, feels the sun's warmth and spreads her wings.
The vast majority of the public would consider the care of an injured and suffering turkey to be noble act of compassion, not a punishable offense. Yet from "ag gag" laws, to the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, to our crew facing felony charges for rescuing dying animals of zero economic value, our political institutions are systematically weaponized at the behest of billion-dollar entities desperate to silence the truth. The proponents of animal cruelty—and related cover-up efforts—are the executives and lobbyists for companies such as Norbest, Smithfield and Tyson—not ordinary people.
As I prepare for ongoing legal matters, I call on each of you—difficult though it is—to look behind Big Ag's closed doors to see these individuals' fear and pain. Take a stand against the corporate and government entities that not only support this brutality but actively seek to suppress transparency efforts—despite societal values very much to the contrary.
And you don't have to wait long to be a part of historic action. Make plans now to join us as we go right back to the Utah frontlines during the upcoming Animal Liberation Western Convergence, Nov. 16-20 in Salt Lake City. There will be trainings, community events and mass actions for animals as hundreds come together to turn repression into liberation at the doorstep of Big Ag. Our mass actions garner the massive social and mainstream media attention to spark a necessary societal dialogue.
Animals' lives—and in many ways our democracy itself—lie in the balance.
Diane Gandee Sorbi is an investigator with Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) living in Redwood City, California.
This article was produced by Earth | Food | Life, a project of the Independent Media Institute.
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This week marks the official start of fall, but longer nights and colder days can make it harder to spend time outdoors. Luckily, there are several inspiring environmental films that can be streamed at home.
1. Kiss the Ground<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="ccc5f0c92a5603e68aec39e56b0db02a"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/K3-V1j-zMZw?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p><strong>Streaming On: Netflix</strong></p><p><strong>Premiere Date: Sept. 22</strong></p><p>Between <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/wildfires-california-washington-oregon-photos-2647585008.html" target="_self">wildfires devastating the U.S. West Coast</a> and <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tropical-storm-beta-landfall-2647760268.html" target="_self">storms battering the Gulf</a>, the impacts of the <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/climate-change/" target="_self">climate crisis</a> can feel overwhelming right now. <em><a href="https://kissthegroundmovie.com/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Kiss the Ground</a> </em>offers an alternative to all of the bad news by focusing on solutions.</p><p>The film, directed by Josh and Rebecca Tickell and narrated by Woody Harrelson, explains how we can heal the Earth through "regenerative agriculture," farming practices that draw carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and into soil as a way to restore soil health, which in turn boosts ecosystems and food supplies.</p><p>"<em>Kiss the Ground </em>shows how feasible it is to make these changes at a grassroots level immediately and make a truly substantive impact with low cost and easy to implement solutions," Executive Producer RJ Jain said in an email. "This is why I got involved."</p>
2. Public Trust: The Fight for America's Public Lands<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="5338f7a2931e356910026e5fd76fac56"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/jsKMTAaj_wQ?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p><strong>Streaming On: YouTube</strong></p><p><strong>Premiere Date: Sept. 25, 2 p.m. EDT </strong></p><p>This <a href="https://www.patagonia.com/films/public-trust/" target="_blank">award-winning documentary</a> tells the stories of Indigenous activists, journalists, whistleblowers and historians working to protect America's <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/public-lands" target="_self">public lands</a>. The film focuses on three political struggles: the shrinking of <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/bears-ears" target="_self">Bears Ears</a> National Monument in Utah, the mining of Boundary Waters Wilderness in Minnesota and the opening of the <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/Arctic-National-Wildlife-Refuge" target="_self">Arctic National Wildlife Refuge</a> to fossil fuel exploration.</p><p><em>Public Trust</em> was directed by David Garrett Byars and produced by Jeremy Rubingh. Patagonia Films, Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard and actor Robert Redford are executive producers. It will be <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OGjnIG7puzY" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">released</a> on YouTube in time for <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/national-public-lands-day-2640656776.html" target="_self">National Public Lands Day</a>.</p><p>"Our country is fortunate to have millions of acres of public lands, including National Parks, Monuments, Wildlife Refuges and Wilderness set aside for future generations," Redford said. "Sadly, these lands that belong to you and me are under unprecedented threats from the greed of big corporations, eager to weaken restrictions in the pursuit of profits. Many of our current politicians are also to blame. <em>Public Trust</em> tells the story of citizens who are fighting back. It's a much-needed wake-up call for all of us who want to preserve our unique and wild cultural heritage."</p>
3. David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="156438a30836a765d7a92982545fc334"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/B_OFZvAd05Y?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p><strong>Streaming On: Netflix</strong></p><p><strong>Premiere Date: Oct. 4</strong></p><p>Beloved nature broadcaster <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/David-Attenborough" target="_self">David Attenborough</a> has spent his career introducing viewers to the wonders of our planet. In recent years, his footage of albatrosses swallowing <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/plastics" target="_self">plastic</a> in <em>Blue Planet II</em> has been credited with <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/2018-fighting-plastic-waste-2624606566.html" target="_self">helping to ramp up</a> the global fight against plastic pollution. Now, in this <a href="https://www.wwf.org.uk/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">World Wildlife Fund</a> (WWF)-produced <a href="https://www.attenborough.film/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">documentary</a>, he reflects on the defining moments of his career and the devastating changes he has witnessed.</p><p><em>David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet,</em> which was also produced by Silverback Films and directed by Alastair Fothergill, Jonnie Hughes and Keith Scholey, features an intimate conversation between Attenborough and Sir Michael Palin as the broadcaster reflects on his life and a career that took him to every continent on Earth. In addition to streaming on Netflix, the movie will be available in select theaters starting Sept. 28.</p><p>"For decades, David has brought the natural world to the homes of audiences worldwide, but there has never been a more significant moment for him to share his own story and reflections," WWF executive producer Colin Butfield said in a <a href="https://www.wwf.org.uk/updates/david-attenborough-life-our-planet" target="_blank">statement</a>. "This film coincides with a monumental year for environmental action as world leaders make critical decisions on nature and climate. It sends a powerful message from the most inspiring and celebrated naturalist of our time."</p>
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