More than 30 animal rights activists were taken into custody on Monday outside a Whole Foods Market store in San Francisco’s Noe Valley neighborhood after the activists occupied the store for more than three hours.
The activists, members of the group Direct Action Everywhere, allege animal cruelty happening at several farms supplying goods to Amazon-owned Whole Foods, some located in the North Bay, and are calling on Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to put a stop to the alleged violations. Starting around 8 a.m., dozens of activists rallied at the store’s parking lot, located at 3950 24th St., with several chaining themselves to the store and blocking the entrance. Others climbed the roof and hoisted up a giant post of Bezos’ head.
A separate, smaller rally occurred at the Amazon office at 545 Sansome St. At least four were cited by police there, according to Direct Action Everywhere.
During the Whole Foods protest, officers used bolt cutters to cut the chains the activists used to tie themselves to the store’s door. It was not immediately clear if the more than 30 activists taken into custody were being arrested, or if they’d be cited and released.
The protest remained peaceful as other activists sang, chanted and played guitars.
According to Direct Action Everywhere, its investigations have found cruel conditions at farms where products marketed as “free range” and “humane” come from.
Organizer Cassie King said:
“We’ve found repeated evidence of criminal animal cruelty.”
“They’ve done nothing in response to the animal abuse.”
King said the group is calling on Bezos to support the rights of animals and to disavow felony charges that six activists are facing for trying to rescue animals from Amazon-linked farms.
In a statement, Whole Foods said:
“Direct Action Everywhere’s repeated targeting of Whole Foods Market stores jeopardizes the safety of our customers and team members, including today at our Noe Valley store.”
The statement said:
“Whole Foods Market caters to customers with a wide variety of diets, and we’re proud to provide transparency in animal welfare and growing practices through third-party certifiers like Global Animal Partnership.”
“We respect everyone’s right to voice their opinion, but our responsibility is to provide a safe environment for our customers and our team members.”