“Gavin Newsom” Speaks at Capital Factory Farm Moratorium Rally

The Gavin Newsom impersonator feigns concern for the activists’ cause at Tuesday’s rally. Photo: Paul Darwin Picklesimer

Direct Action Everywhere’s press release following their coalition rally on Tuesday calling for a moratorium on new factory farms and slaughterhouses in California reads:

JANUARY 12, SACRAMENTO, CA – “I will continue to be dedicated to saying nice things, and not doing anything.”

So said activist Curtis Vollmar, who donned a dapper suit and the signature slicked-back haircut with gray streaks in impersonating the California governor outside the Capitol Tuesday afternoon. Vollmar goaded the dozens in attendance for their demands for substantive change in addressing the public health, environmental and animal welfare concerns related to factory farming.

As seen on Facebook livestream, the stunt was part of a No More Factory Farms rally led by the animal rights network Direct Action Everywhere (DxE), in coalition with a variety of environmental, racial justice and animal rights groups, including Sunrise Movement Bay Area, East Bay Resistance, and Physicians’ Committee for Responsible Medicine. Speakers from various groups spoke at the event before the Newsom impersonator took over the podium.

Photo: Maya Jorge Luis

DxE made national headlines with another creative stunt last month, when they fooled Fox Business’ Maria Bartiromo into believing an activist was Smithfield Foods CEO Dennis Organ. The imposter went on to make damaging claims about Smithfield, interlaced with corporate-speak which permitted the ruse to go on for the entire six-minute segment.

Tuesday’s action was the latest escalation of the No More Factory Farms campaign, which calls on Governor Newsom to issue an executive order prohibiting the construction of new factory farms and slaughterhouses statewide. In October, a DxE protest at the California state capitol led to 19 arrests, including Vollmar.

UC Berkeley student Erica Wilson spoke on behalf of Cal’s student group, Berkeley Organization for Animal Advocacy (BOAA). Photo: Maya Jorge Luis

DxE says animal agriculture poses a dire threat to public health by spreading the current pandemic, as well as enabling the emergence of future pandemics due to filthy conditions inside factory farms. They also cite animal cruelty concerns and the industry’s contribution to climate change. They want Governor Newsom to issue an executive order moratorium prohibiting the construction of new factory farms and slaughterhouses in the state. They note a similar Cory Booker proposal as an indication of both the urgency and public support for bold policy, as well as a recent survey finding 68% support among Californians. They see such a move as a necessary first step toward an animal bill of rights they call Rose’s Law.

Photo: Maya Jorge Luis

DxE says the public opposes abuses to workers, animals, the environment and public health, but they are denied truthful information by a political system rigged in favor of powerful industries and corporations. Activists say they accept the consequences that may come with fighting for change.

“As we approach the hopeful end of the Covid-19 pandemic, the same dangerous system of animal agriculture continues unchecked, ready to unleash the next deadly virus at any moment.” said Vollmar. “We need immediate action to end this industry, and a moratorium on the construction of new factory farms and slaughterhouses is a significant first step.”

The Countdown 2019.10.18

Children watch as army tanks are transported on trucks in the outskirts of the town of Akcakale, in Sanliurfa province, southeastern Turkey, at he border of Syria, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, heading a delegation that includes Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien, arrived in Turkey on Thursday, a day after Trump dismissed the very crisis he sent his aides on an emergency mission to douse.(AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

Via AP: Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today:

1. FIGHTING IN KURDISH-HELD SYRIAN TOWN PERSISTS

AP journalists witness continued fighting in a northeast Syrian town at the center of the fight between Turkey and Kurdish forces, despite a U.S.-brokered cease-fire that went into effect hours earlier.

2. ‘A GREAT DAY FOR CIVILIZATION’

Trump hails a cease-fire deal with Turkey, but its effect was largely to mitigate a grave foreign policy crisis of his own creation.

White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney announces that the G7 will be held at Trump National Doral, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

3. WHITE HOUSE SHIFTS POSITION ON UKRAINE

Mick Mulvaney, acting chief of staff, acknowledges that Trump’s decision to hold up military aid to Ukraine was linked to his demand that Kyiv investigate the Democratic National Committee and the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign.

4. JOHNSON SEEKS SUPPORT FOR BREXIT DEAL

After winning support of EU leaders for his divorce deal, the prime minister is back in London to try to secure backing from the fractious British Parliament.

5. DEEP-SEA EXPEDITION FOR ‘WAR GRAVES’

Explorers are scouring for sunken World War II ships in debris fields in the Pacific, an area where one of the most decisive battles of the time took place.

6. WHY HONG KONG TOURISTS SEE SILVER LINING

Some intrepid visitors are coming specifically to see the protests and are reveling in deep discounts and unusually short lines at tourist hotspots.

7. POLICE GET COOLING OFF PERIOD BEFORE QUESTIONED IN SHOOTINGS

After an officer fatally shoots someone, they are given days or even weeks before they have to answer for it, angering community activists and others seeking reforms.

8. TRUDEAU FIGHTING FOR POLITICAL SURVIVAL

Once a rock star on the global stage, the Canadian prime minister could lose office in national elections next week.

9. TROPICAL STORM LIKELY ALONG GULF COAST

Forecasters issue a tropical storm warning for southeastern Louisiana as well as the northern Gulf Coast from the Alabama-Mississippi line to Yankeetown, Florida.

Houston Astros’ George Springer (4) celebrates with Martin Maldonado, right, and Carlos Correa after hitting a three-run home run against the New York Yankees during the third inning of Game 4 of baseball’s American League Championship Series, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

10. HOUSTON ON VERGE OF FALL CLASSIC

George Springer and Carlos Correa each hit three-run homers and the Astros beat the Yankees 8-3 to close in on a second World Series visit in three years.

Diestel Turkey Ranch Launches Campaign to “Refresh Brand” After Whistleblower Footage of Injured Birds Puts Their Name in Mud.

“Thoughtfully raised” turkeys inside a Jamestown, CA Diestel facility

After a 2015 Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) investigation of Diestel Turkey Ranch based in Sonora, CA (covered in the Washington Post, Slate and the Wall Street Journal) revealed what activists say is a very different reality from the idyllic animal welfare marketing of the lauded supplier, the group filed suit against Diestel for violations of California’s False Advertising Law in 2017. That lawsuit goes to trial beginning today, and is expected to conclude Thursday or Friday.

Investigators say they discovered that turkeys marketed as “range grown,” “thoughtfully raised,” and “enhanced outdoor access” were in fact living indoors in massive industrial sheds — never going outside. Many animals at the facility were diseased, dead and dying (FULL INVESTIGATIVE REPORT). They say Whole Foods’ advertising of Diestel turkey came from a non-commercial “Step 5+” “showcase” farm. Documentation obtained through discovery reveals that fewer than 1% of Diestel turkeys were raised in the Step 5 or 5+ conditions Diestel prominently advertised.

DxE’s suit demands that Diestel cease their misleading marketing. Activists say the outcome could set a powerful precedent for ordinary people to hold corporations to account.

DxE says the Diestel situation is one poignant example of a broader issue. Increasingly-conscientious consumers demand a high degree of animal welfare. But companies such as Amazon/ Whole Foods are unwilling to bear the cost to actually implement such measures, they simply must cut corners if they want to sell conscious animal products at all. Their business model is reliant on a legal system which systematically elevates corporate interests over individuals, and it’s only by virtue of ordinary people undertaking extraordinary actions (often with extraordinary risk and/or cost) that things can be made right.

“Diestel and Whole Foods are distorting consumer perceptions,” said Kitty Jones, one of the investigators of the Diestel facility. “Consumers and animals both pay the price for that fraud.”

Aside from the Diestel case, multiple investigations challenging the Whole Foods’ animal welfare claims have resulted in aggressive legal action not against the company but against the whistleblowers. Most recently, Whole Foods filed for a statewide restraining order, banning DxE activists from protesting at all CA stores, following San Francisco demonstrations at Whole Foods and Amazon locations last month, which resulted in 37 arrests.

“We believe ordinary Americans feel compassion for animals. That’s why they are willing to pay a premium for what they think is ‘humane’ meat,” said Diestel investigator Priya Sawhney. “But the truth is the birds at Diestel’s farms suffer tremendously.”