WAVE 3 TV reported recently that a special prosecutor assigned to look at allegations of animal cruelty at Pilgrim’s Pride — which supplies chickens to KFC — has received so many threats that an FBI agent has been assigned the task of investigating each of them.
In 2004, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals made public a videotape showing employees of Pilgrim’s Pride in West Virginia kicking, stomping and slamming chickens against walls. In January 2005, however, special prosecutor Ginny Conley announced she wasn’t bringing charges because the videotape was so dark and grainy it was impossible to identify specific individuals for prosecution. She also cited concern that since the alleged abuse took place at a slaughterhouse, that it wasn’t covered by the state’s animal cruelty statutes.
Conley subsequently received enough additional information against those in the video to take her case to a grand jury in June. The grand jury, however, refused to indict the identified individuals.
Pilgrim’s Pride fired 11 people connected to the incidents on the videotape.
Conley told the Associated Press and WAVE 3 TV that she regularly receives harassing e-mails and letters from animal rights extremists, some of which include threats. She told WAVE 3,
There was even an FBI person provided to me to monitor it because the harassment got to such a level.
PETA, for its part, stuck with its “we don’t condone it, but we really do” line. PETA’s Dan Shannon told WAVE TV that PETA doesn’t condone the threats, but added that,
At the same time, you can understand how somebody would be so upset by these animals being tortured and abused, thrown against walls and torn apart. They might be moved with that level of passion.
Reminds me of the time that Shannon said PETA didn’t condone throwing fake blood at KFC’s CEO, while Bruce Friedrich was off doing just that.
The kicker is that Conley told the Associated Press that the harassment from animal rights activists made it harder to focus on making a case against the Pilgrim’s Pride workers,
Special prosecutor Ginny Conley had previously said she had no evidence to warrant criminal charges, but said Wednesday that more evidence had been found that persuaded her to present the case to a grand jury. Pressure from the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals did little to sway her, she said.
“In fact, if anything, the harassment I received from PETA was very intrusive on me performing my duties as prosecutor,” said Conley. “However, after I gained the additional information I received, I felt it at least warranted presentation to the citizens of Hardy County.”
PETA supporters upset workers on video abusing chickens won’t be charged. Erick Flack, WAVE TV 3, July 19, 2005.
Jury Won’t Indict Chicken Plant Workers. Associated Press, June 8, 2005.