Salmon Arm  

Processing plant protest

A group of animal rights activists are claiming that two of its members were assaulted during a protest outside  a Salmon Arm meat processing facility. 

The members claim that the owner of Rocana Meats physically assaulted a man and a woman while they were participating in a peaceful protest. 

RCMP confirm officers were called to the meat processing facility on Dec. 4, the night the alleged assault took place, to find a little more than a dozen protesters. 

Police say the protesters had stopped a truck that was arriving with cargo for processing.

"Police were called to investigate an alleged assault after the operator of the site removed protesters from in front of the vehicle," stated Staff Sgt. Scott West. " No arrests were made at the site ... and the local RCMP Detachment investigation is ongoing."

The group claims they were there to pay final respects to a truckload of pigs headed for slaughter. 

"As per practice, two activists dressed in reflective safety vests carrying orange wand flashlights held up an oversized stop sign which read 'Two Minutes Please' and another sign 'We are here to say goodbye' as the truck turned the corner and slowed to a stop," wrote a member of the group Okanagan Animal Save in a statement to media. 

"We saw the truck pulling onto the road and then the owner came swerving around the corner and almost hit a bunch of us in his personal vehicle. He slammed on the brakes, blocking the semi-truck on the road, jumped out and he rushed towards us yelling and swearing."

In the letter addressed to the media, the group states that at one point the driver jumped out of his truck and rushed at one female activist. 

"As this was unfolding the rest of the group was able to safely approach the side of the truck and observed the pigs in the trailer, obtaining video footage and still photos of the 6-month-old pigs."

The group claims it had sent a letter to the owner of the meat processing plant declaring their intentions.

This is not the first time these activists have protested out front of Rocana Meats.  

According to the owner Dave DeBoer, they have protested out front of his processing plant at least half-a-dozen times. 

"The first time they showed up I was surprised," explains DeBoer. "They were calling us killers and that we are cruel. I'm not cruel or a killer. I provide meat to people and we employee 25 people."

DeBoer says this particular incident escalated because the protesters were obstructing his driver from getting past. 

He also claims that the protesters were hanging off the truck and taking pictures of the animals inside before the physical confrontation, which DeBoer says was just a slap on the is wrist of one of the protesters.

"Protest all you want, but keep it civil and don't harras anybody," says DeBoer. "What would have happened if one of them fell off the truck? Who would be in trouble then?"

DeBoer claims he has had an employee tell him he won't cross the blockade out of fear for personal safety.

"He wouldn't dare go into the barricade because he felt threatened." 

The activists state in their letter to media that it won’t be the last time they attend the Rocana Meats' plant. 

"We are hopeful though that at the next vigil we will see more cooperation from the owner and truck drivers."

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