Their Turn - The Social Justice Movement of Our Time Their Turn - The Social Justice Movement of Our Time


Rampant Animal Abuse at U.S. “Meat Research” Center Triggers Outrage . . . and Change

February 2, 2015 by Leave a Comment

The News

On January 19th, the New York Times ran a front page story about unbridled abuse at the U.S. Meat Research Center, a taxpayer-funded facility in Nebraska where tens of thousands of animals are used in experiments designed to increase profits for factory farmers. The article, which portrays the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) as more of a trade organization for agribusiness than a consumer protection agency, has sparked so much outrage that the Secretary of USDA has directed his staff to draft an Animal Welfare Strategy plan that will mandate enhanced training and the creation of an independent panel to review animal handling protocols, policies and research practices. One week after releasing the story, the NY Times published follow-up editorial about the research center, stating, "You don’t have to be a vegan to be repulsed by an account in The Times revealing the moral depths to which the federal government — working as a handmaiden to industrial agriculture — has sunk in pursuit of cheaper meat and fatter corporate profits." [caption id="attachment_5707" align="alignnone" width="675"]U.S. Meat Research Center (photo: Michael Moss) U.S. Meat Research Center (photo: Michael Moss)[/caption] Unlike the original news story, which focused on the research center, the editorial also addresses the horrors of industrialized agriculture in general: "The conditions of industrial feedlots and factory farms — the confinement of animals, the rampant use of antibiotics, the manure lagoons — would shock anyone who naïvely imagines farms as bucolic places out of children’s books. Animal-rights advocates have toiled for years exposing things the industry does not want customers to know." Jane Velez-Mitchell of JaneUnchained speaks to Nathan Runkle from Mercy For Animals about the New York Times' investigation:

Your Turn

1. Tell the USDA to shut down the Meat Animal Research Center. 2. Contact the Director of the Meat Animal Research Center, Emil J. Pollak:
  • Email:
  • Phone: (402) 762-4109

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The Underground Activist (Literally…)

October 6, 2014 by Leave a Comment


By day, he teaches physical education in a public school. By night, he descends into the bowels of NYC to do vegan outreach in subway stations. Sometimes with friends and often alone, Jim Scotto, 42, distributes thousands of pamphlets - night after night, weekend after weekend. [caption id="attachment_3333" align="alignnone" width="572"]Vegan outreach in NYC subway Vegan outreach in NYC subway[/caption] "The subway is the perfect spot," says Scotto. "During the afternoon rush, thousands of people who come through the stations wait on the platforms and ride the trains, both of which are conducive to reading." vegan outreach subway To capture peoples' attention, he also puts out booklets on columns and sets up easels with posters, whenever possible. Vegan outreach in the subway Scotto is convinced that his mild-mannered approach is effective: "I always keep it positive. It's the best way to distribute the greatest number of pamphlets and make a positive impression on people. Many won't take a pamphlet, but plenty of people do. And I know they're making a difference because people have returned to tell me that they've gone vegan or are moving in the right direction." [caption id="attachment_3332" align="alignnone" width="960"]Scotto does above ground outreach too Scotto does above ground outreach too[/caption] Scotto receives no rewards or recognition for his under the radar activism, but he probably should. After all, he is living proof that one person - working alone - can make a big difference for the animals. [caption id="attachment_3334" align="alignnone" width="638"]A friendly reminder of why he advocates A friendly reminder of why he advocates[/caption]

Your Turn

In Scotto's words, "More people leafleting means more materials distributed. And that leads to more change." To find out how to leaflet in your area, please see Mercy For Animals' Guide to Leafleting.

Filed under: Food, Opinion
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Activist Arrested for Liberating Chickens; Hundreds of Others Found Dead

September 30, 2014 by Leave a Comment

The News

Kaporos, the annual chicken-swinging ritual that takes place before Yom Kippur, doesn't start until Tuesday night, but, already, an activist has been arrested, and hundreds of chickens stacked in crates on the street have died. [caption id="attachment_3194" align="alignnone" width="463"]Activist Arrested (photo: Yeshiva World News) Activist Arrested (photo: Yeshiva World News)[/caption] Wearing a Mercy For Animals t-shirt, an activist from New Jersey was arrested on Monday for allegedly stealing chickens from a "Kaporos Center" in Brooklyn. Authorities found the liberated chickens in his vehicle. Sadly, these animals, who had a brief taste of freedom in the back of a van, will most likely be used in the Kaporos ritual and then slaughtered. [caption id="attachment_3196" align="alignnone" width="790"]Liberated chickens are free no more (photo: Yeshiva World News) Liberated chickens are free no more (photo: Yeshiva World News)[/caption] In a separate incident, Brooklyn resident Rina Deych, a founding member of the advocacy group working to end the chicken-swinging ritual, made the grisly discovery of hundreds of dead chickens stacked in crates, and she took footage with the hope that authorities would charge the perpetrators with animal cruelty. stacked chickens kaporos2 Ms. Deych suspects that the chickens, who are deprived of food and water for several days, died of dehydration: "We just witnessed hundreds, possibly thousands of chickens dead in crates in Brooklyn. We called the police, but they would not take our report. NYPD is supposed to respond to animal cruelty and neglect cases." stacked chickens kaporos1 Ms. Deych's video documentation of dead and dying chickens:

Your Turn

If you live in or near NYC, please attend one or more of the three anti-chicken swinging protests organized by the Alliance to End Chickens for Kaporos. The protests take place from 6:00 - 8:00 p.m. in Brooklyn, New York.

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“Ag Gag” Bill Blocked, but Agribusiness To Escalate Fight To Keep Cameras Out

September 25, 2014 by Leave a Comment

The News

An "ag gag" bill that was introduced in Southern Australia after undercover investigations exposed animal abuse on pork and wool farms has been voted down. The Surveillance Devices Bill would have penalized activists with up to $15,000 in fines or with imprisonment for releasing footage taken of factory farms. [caption id="attachment_3029" align="alignnone" width="300"]gestation crates What agribusiness doesn't want consumers to see[/caption] The Sydney Morning Herald, which declared the vote "a win for consumer advocacy, workers' rights, freedom of the press and animal protection," cautioned that supporters of "ag gag" will push for legislation at the federal level. Following is a two minute non-graphic video taken inside of a pig factory farm in Australia. As the Communications Director of Animals Australia describes the conditions, the intelligent pigs in the background attempt to escape from the intensive confinement of their cages:

Your Turn

As reported on TheirTurn in August, supporters of ag-gag in Australia attempted to disguise the bill as a measure to protect farm animals when its true intent is to keep the public in the dark. Most consumers continue to be unaware of the existence of factory farms and probably believe that the animals who they eat are raised on the green pastures shown on the packaging. As activists, we must ensure that the work being done by undercover investigators is protected by law and distributed widely to the public. To that end, please share Mercy For Animals' video  - Farm to Fridge - that takes viewers behind the scenes on modern-day factory Farms.

Filed under: Food, Victories
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Mercy For Animals Exposes Turkey Torture on Butterball Farms

June 4, 2014 by Leave a Comment

The News

Undercover video taken by a Mercy For Animals (MFA) investigator exposes the torture of baby turkeys on Butterball factory farms. MFA has turned over this evidence to local law enforcement, which is currently considering criminal animal cruelty charges. Butterball, which is the nation's largest turkey producer, is responsible for 20 percent of the 252 million turkeys killed each year.

News & Opinion

Factory farms are inherently abusive because the animals are mutilated, ground up alive, confined, torn from their mothers and stripped of the ability to do anything that comes naturally to them. Abuses that are not built into the system, such as the ones mentioned above but are pervasive nonetheless are the beatings -- the "kicking and stomping on turkeys and bashing in their heads with metal pipes." Please share this Butterball video so that people who think that eating a turkey sandwich is a benign activity are exposed to the truth.

Filed under: Food, Investigations
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