After a large hog truck stopped at a red light on the intersection of Southeast Boulevard and Railroad Street, a group of protesters rushed over with water bottles to feed the animals packed inside. A few others took pictures with their smartphones.
When the light turned green, they went back to the intersection to hold their signs — hoping to capture the attention of motorists on one of Clinton’s busiest streets.
About 20 members of North Carolina Farmed Animal Save (NCFAS) returned to Clinton to hold a demonstration outside the Smithfield facility. They were also joined by Vegans for Peace, a grassroots organization advocating for veganism. The goal of the effort is to raise awareness about practices they believe are not humane. According to the organization, 11,000 pigs die every day at the Smithfield plant.
NCFAS supporter Andrea Kiefer traveled from Raleigh to participate. Some of the participants represented different locations such as Asheville, Clinton, and other places throughout the state. The event also brought visitors from Virginia, South Carolina and other nearby states.
“It’s very empowering to be out here and giving a voice to these pigs and to speak up for all of the animals that go out in these slaughterhouses, needlessly,” Kiefer said.
During the demonstration, Kiefer said the groups have been really well-received and members spoke with visitors about their purpose. She said officers from the Clinton Police Department were also great to work with. Requests for comment from Smithfield plant officials were not immediately returned before press time Tuesday.
As a nonprofit organization, NCFAS is associated with a worldwide group called The Save Movement. In June, the group participated in an initiative, “The 5 Day Save.” Labeled as “vigils,” some of the other demonstrations occurred in Bladen, Duplin and Wayne counties.
“I think it’s great that we have more support out here today,” Kiefer said.
The livestock, dairy and poultry industries in Sampson County are a major part of the local economy. According to statistics, it generated $1 billion. The hog inventory is about 1.85 million, which puts Sampson County at first place. Members of the organization are aware that many local residents are employed through these facilities.
“I understand how it’s how people make their living here and something that our communities have invested in,” said protester Tracy Curtis, “but North Carolina used to be a tobacco-driven industry and we moved out of that to hog and chicken industry.”
She believes that counties such as Sampson can invest in other options and move toward more plant food-based manufacturing.
“It’s about what we choose to put our money toward and what we choose to invest in,” Curtis said. “I want to stress that we’re not here to yell at employees about their jobs or hate truckers. We don’t and we have compassion for people as well.”
She understands that the plant will not close anytime soon, but they still would like to raise awareness.
“It’s about what we consume and what we choose to put our money toward, whether it’s personally or investing in businesses,” she said.
Kiefer added that the group is more against a system, and not just people involved.