As truckloads of pigs are carted into a slaughterhouse in Vernon, CA, a group of about 60 animal rights activists gather around the trucks and offer water and comfort to the animals in their final moments.

Since 2017, every Sunday and Wednesday night, L.A. Animal Save and Animal Alliance Network holds protests—or “vigils”—in front of Farmer John Clougherty Packing Co.’s slaughterhouse, where more than 7,000 pigs are slaughtered every day. Multiple trucks arrive every 15-20 minutes, each holding about 60 pigs. When the pigs—usually carted in from out of state—reach their destination, two or three of them are usually dead.

As the pigs arrive at the gates of Farmer John, activists—mostly Californians, but some who have come from all over the world—swarm the livestock trucks, offering drinking water, cooling mist and comforting words or affectionate touches through the slots of the cells.

“We call it a vigil because…that’s what it is, it’s a funeral. Everything that comes in here will die tonight. [These animals] have probably never seen kindness or love…ever in their lives,” a participant told Rare Essentials.

Ellen Dent, who heads the Animal Alliance Network, explained the reason behind the vigils to Elijah Schaffer, YouTube personality of Slightly Offensive.

“What we’re doing is about compassion. It’s called ‘bearing witness,’ a term coined by Leo Tolstoy,” Dent said. “It means to come closer when you see another being that is suffering and do whatever you can to comfort them, and let the world know what’s happening to them.”

Though there were some scuffles between police and more radical protesters in the past, these peaceful protesters are on good terms with both Farmer John and with law enforcement.

“They’re respectful of the city, and they’re respectful of Farmer John,” officer Marissa Velez told the L.A. Times. She confirmed with the Times that she and some of her fellow officers have become vegan, as a result of observing the vigils.

“It’s the least I could do to show my respect for someone else’s life…It’s so overwhelming to know that the lives coming in on the trucks are going to be lost just a few minutes later,” another participant told Rare Essentials.

Written ByMicaela Ricaforte

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