Protesters lock themselves to Kelowna credit union over its support of RibFest
VANCOUVER - Animal rights activists locked themselves to the entrance of an Interior Savings location on Monday morning in protest of the credit union's support of RibFest Kelowna.
The group of protesters prevented the downtown Kelowna branch from opening after they blocked the doorway for about three hours. In a statement, the activists said Interior Savings plays a "big role" in sponsoring the August event and other RibFests across the province and called on the credit union to cease its sponsorship of the event.
"We will continue to escalate our tactics until Interior Savings does drop their sponsorship. We have protested their sponsorship of RibFest for many years now," said protester Amy Soranno. "Our concerns have been ignored and they haven't been addressed. So we are escalating our tactics and we will continue to do so until our concerns are met."
The protesters met with an executive from the credit union but were unsatisfied with the meeting, according to Sgt. Greg Woodcox with Kelowna RCMP.
The protesters vowed to remain on-site until their demand was met, but they were removed by RCMP around 11 a.m. Mounties used bolt cutters to remove the chains, and the protesters were eventually put into the back of a police cruiser.
"I asked them if they were going to move after they'd made their point and that and they said, no, they weren't going to move unless they were forcibly removed or arrested," said Cox. "We made a decision to conduct the arrest of I believe seven or eight females here for mischief."
Cox said the demonstrators would be transported to the detachment where they would try to get them unhooked from each other and be released on a promise to appear at a later date.
The activists also expressed concern over Excelsior Hog Farm's involvement in various local RibFests. The demonstrators said the Abbotsford farm supplies pig ribs to many RibFest vendors. It came under scrutiny in the spring after PETA released video they say was shot at the farm, which shows dead piglets, an adult pig's corpse and pigs covered with tumours. Demonstrators gathered at the farm in April wearing T-shirts that read "Meat the Victims." The operators of the farm, Ray and Jeff Binnendyk, conducted a tour of the farm after the footage was released and argued that PETA had misrepresented what happens at the facility. The SPCA investigated the video and did not recommend any charges.
In a statement, Interior Savings said it met with the activists to hear their concerns. The credit union also said it supports events that bring the community together and raise money to support local non-profits.
"RibFest offers free and accessible entertainment to everyone in the community. Like most community events, it offers a selection of food options to suit people's preferences," said the statement. "Interior Savings appreciates and respects that everyone has a right to their opinion and to choose a diet that makes sense for them."