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Arrested animal rights activists refuse to sign court citations

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Scores of people from the animal rights group Direct Action Everywhere who were arrested at a protest at a duck farm near Petaluma Monday are being processed Tuesday morning at the Sonoma County Jail. Many of the protesters who were booked are refusing to sign a citation to appear in court, Sonoma County sheriff’s Sgt. Spencer Crum said. They face possible felony conspiracy and misdemeanor trespassing charges, but the charges that are filed will be up to the Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office, Crum said.

Sheriff’s officials on Monday said 98 people were arrested at the Reichardt Duck Farm at 3770 Middle Two Rock Road west of Petaluma. Crum said Tuesday it appears 81 people were arrested but he is still working on a final count.

“Some of them have been released, but most are in jail,” Crum said.

Direct Action Everywhere spokesman Matt Johnson said many people continued their protest outside the Sonoma County Jail Tuesday morning. Johnson said Monday more that 75 people were arrested.

Johnson said more than 600 activists attended the protest Monday. Many of them locked themselves with a chain to the gate outside the farm and other machinery. Activists removed 32 ducklings and rushed them to emergency veterinary treatment, and they will be taken to farm animal sanctuaries for lifelong care, Johnson said in a news release.

The group Direct Action Everywhere claims the duck farm slaughters more than a million ducks annually and has been the subject of complaints about animal cruelty. Direct Action Everywhere wants local authorities to take action against the company, Johnson said.

Protester Thomas Chiang was dragged by the neck when a slaughterhouse employee turned on the machinery while he was locked to it, Johnson said.
Chiang was taken away to be treated for nerve damage and severe pain and has since been released, Johnson said.

Nearly 60 activists were arrested in September 2018 at a farm that supplies animals to Petaluma Poultry. Six of those protesters were charged with felony conspiracy, burglary, and grand theft and misdemeanor trespassing. They face a preliminary hearing on Aug. 1 in Sonoma County Superior Court.

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