In the early morning hours of Jan. 26, a group of protesters entered a local poultry house on Hwy. 97 in the southern part of Gonzales County with a simple message emblazoned across their matching shirts: Meat The Victims. Once inside, 36 members of a pro-vegan movement posed around approximately 40 dead chicks from what appeared to be a brooding facility. The photos were shared online via several personal Facebook accounts of those involved.
Veganism is the “practice of abstaining from the use of animal products, particularly in diet, and an associated philosophy that rejects the commodity status of animals.” The protestors were looking to strike a nerve using the county's robust poultry industry as an example.
Gonzales County Sheriff Matt Atkinson said that the group of out-of-towners entered the property owner's chicken house without consent. By the time deputies arrived, the protesters had moved out of the facility to a spot near the roadway for a small protest. From there, the group traveled to the Gonzales Walmart for a demonstration before they were asked to leave.
Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Lynn Wilburn said that if his deputies had arrived while the bunch was still inside the facility, they would have been arrested and transported to the county jail.
Wilburn said that they were inside no more than 30 minutes. Authorities are still chatting with the property owners to decide if they would like to pursue criminal trespass charges, and much evidence has already been obtained. Various photos of the demonstration were posted online, as well as video of everything that they did while inside. The photos would make a good case for the prosecution, he said.
The Inquirer reached out to members of the group to obtain comment. Though one woman stated that they would be interested in presenting a statement, one was not made available as of press time.
Meanwhile, the investigation will continue.
“We are closely monitoring the rural areas around the poultry industry,” Wilburn said. “Farm owners should inform the sheriff's department of any trespassing.”