Imagine blissfully biting into a crispy, Chick-fil-A sandwich only to have that incredibly delicious moment interrupted by a strange, boisterous and grotesque protest. That’s exactly what happened to some patrons who were eating at a Florida Chick-fil-A on Tuesday.
According to WTVT-TV, a strange bit of chaos broke out when a group of protestors showed up at one of the chain’s locations in Pinellas Park, Florida, donning animal masks and bloody clothing in a protest against the company’s Cow Appreciation Day.
Protestors reportedly entered the restaurant chanting, “It’s not food — it’s violence,” with one dressed as a cow and another as a chicken. And in front of all of the patrons — kids included — the group took a faux bloodied knife and performed a mock throat-slicing of the two people dressed up as animals, according to one witness.
“They proceeded to cut the throats of the cow and the chicken that was dressed up,” witness Tina Leacock, a mom who was inside the restaurant with her friends and their children at the time, told Bay News 9. “Thank goodness I had the kids already in the play area.”
Kayla Leaming, an organizer with Direct Action Everywhere, the group that staged the protest, told WTVT-TV that the effort was aimed at pushing back against Cow Appreciation Day and, in particular, the slaughter of animals.
For the record, Cow Appreciation Day is a lighthearted effort by Chick-fil-A to give customers the chance to earn free food.
“Cow Appreciation Day is the one day of the year when it’s okay to dress udderly crazy in exchange for free food,” reads an explainer on the restaurant’s website.
Here’s how it works: Anyone who wears a cow costume or cow apparel is entitled to a free chicken entree. This offering, of course, caught the ire of Direct Action Everywhere.
“We came in there with the approach to show the reality of this is what’s happening to these animals,” Leaming said, specifically targeting the restaurant chain’s Cow Appreciation Day. “We feel like that was feeding into the speciesism that we’re trying to fight. Speciesism is basically just the idea that one life is more important than the other, simply because of the body they were born into.”
The situation was reportedly so intense that Chick-fil-A staff called 911. But by the time police arrived the protestors had vacated the premises.
Leacock said that the group crossed the line with the mock throat slitting, as she said the “kids couldn’t tell the difference between what’s real and fake.”