Breaking! Whole Foods Sues DxE To Prevent More “Peaceful” Protests; What Are They Hiding Besides Where Their Meat Comes From?

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Former law professor Wayne Hsiung and the grassroots animal rights network Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) were sued in Alameda County Superior Court yesterday by Whole Foods Market California Inc. in a complaint seeking an injunction preventing protests against the company.

Beginning in 2014, Hsiung and DxE have undertaken multiple undercover investigations of Whole Foods suppliers, exposing what they call criminal animal cruelty at farms that include Diestel Turkey Ranch, Pitman Family Farms (Mary’s Free Range Chicken), and Petaluma Farms. The investigations have led to thousands of complaints against Whole Foods on social media and protests across the country against both Whole Foods and its parent company, Amazon.

Earlier this year, Hsiung was arrested and charged with “threatening bodily injury” for asking questions at a Colorado Whole Foods; a video posted on Facebook of Hsiung asking a store manager where the animal products sold at Whole Foods came from, was viewed over 3.4 million times. The video was even shared by musician, longtime animal advocate, and vegan, Moby.

According to Hsiung, the new suit is an effort to prevent exposure of disturbing animal abuse at Whole Foods farms.

“Over the past four years, we’ve asked Whole Foods to sit down and discuss our findings, which are shocking and contradictory to everything the company claims about the treatment of animals at its farms,” Hsiung said in a statement sent to WAN. “The company has refused all conversations and is now resorting to lawsuits and trumped-up criminal charges.”

Wayne Hsiung at a peaceful protest in May.

As per Hsiung, internal memos from Whole Foods that were secretly passed to DxE by insiders at the company, as well as personal correspondence with Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, demonstrate the company’s intolerance of dissent.

The company’s acquisition by Amazon, DxE activists said, has led to a new strategy: crushing activists through litigation. Hsiung suggests the internal memos show the company’s efforts to characterize peaceful protests as violent. He is currently facing prosecution in three separate matters relating to investigations of Amazon and Whole Foods suppliers.

“Factory farms and their partners understand the public is opposed to what’s happening behind those industrial doors,” Hsiung said. “But instead of making change, they threaten the whistleblowers.”

Hsiung said that Compassionate Bay, a Bay Area-based organization devoted to animal rights, consumer rights, and environmental protection, has recently proposed “Right To Know” legislation to address these issues, and to counter efforts by corporations to shroud the production of meat in secrecy.

In the past two weeks the proposed legislation has been endorsed by multiple candidates in San Francisco and Berkeley, including San Francisco Board of Supervisors candidate Matt Haney, and Berkeley City Council candidates Mary Kay Lacey and Igor Tregub, along with current Berkeley City Council member Kate Harrison.

Compassionate Bay says this first-of-its-kind legislation would require that major retailers disclose to customers whether the meat they sell comes from factory farms.

“The public has the right to know where their meat comes from,” Compassionate Bay co-founder Priya Sawhney said. “The future of our planet is at stake, and we can’t make informed decisions for our families without transparency.”

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