- A video has started to go viral showing animal rights activists protesting in the meat section of a popular Montreal Costco store.
- The video, which you can see below, shows the protest from activists and the reaction from Costco staff.
- We spoke with the videographer to learn more about the demonstration.
A live video that now has over 3,000 views on Facebook shows around 30 animal rights activists swarm the butcher shop of the Montreal Costo at Marché Centrale.
We reached out to the videographer, Len Goldberg, to learn more about the activation and to hear what he and the group who organized the event, Direct Action Everywhere Montreal, are hoping to accomplish with non-violent peaceful protests, like the one that happened last night.
Those present at the demonstration hoped to express to customers at the store the things that animals themselves are unable to express. Their chant included the phrase, "Their skins, not ours. Their fur, not ours."
At one point the sounds of animals can be heard over a portable speaker, highlighting the unheard suffering of animals that live a life intended for agricultural gain.
The major point of contention for Goldberg, and Direction Action Everywhere Montreal, is the seemingly dishonest marketing and packaging that can be seen on Costco animal products (an example of which can be seen in the video and also via photo further down in this article).
Early on in the video, Goldberg points out a whole chicken that features an idyllic farm scene on the front, implying that Costco chickens are left to roam a free and open field.
Costco has yet to return my request for a statement.
"People look up to Costco as a reputable company," Goldberg explained, "People assume these things are regulated. So when they see this packaging they think, 'There's got to be some truth here.'"
Another protest participant, Malcolm Klimowicz, told MTL Blog that he participated "because the animals they sell are born, raised, and then killed in horrid conditions in disgusting factory farms. Animals are not machines and they need to be treated fairly."
"Costco should be a leader in offering cruelty free and sustainable vegan food to its members. I shop at Costco all the time and I hope that our protest influences them to ditch the animal cruelty and false advertising," he concluded.
In the video below, you can see the 30-or-so activists as they line up in the Costco meat section to deliver their speak-out. The activists can be seen wearing tape over their mouths, as a symbol for the lack of voice that animals have.
I spoke with the manager of the Costco Marché Centrale, who can be seen attempting to remove the activists from the store during their demonstration.
While he was unable to provide a statement to the press about the event itself or Costco's stance on the incident, he did let me know that he was there, and that he was "okay."
Goldberg, however, noted that the manager seemed to be very angry as the peaceful speak-out was occurring. "He grappled me, shoved me, pushed me from behind, swiped for my camera and tried to steal my camera."
When I asked Goldberg what he hoped the outcome of this demonstration would be, he explained that he wants that anger re-directed.
"He was enraged about peaceful speakers - he should be enraged about the violence against the animals. That's what he should be angry about."
Goldberg also highlighted the fact that those who were there to protest were not disrespecting any of the customers.
"It gets people talking - that is the goal."
He admits that the action is shocking, but it remains a peaceful, "love-based" approach that uses boldness to break through "indoctrination and marketing" that prey on people's hope and assumption that animals are treated with respect despite their agricultural purpose.
When I asked, "Why Costco?" Goldberg explained that Costco is the 3rd largest retailer of meat products in Canada.
I was unable to confirm this statistic, but I can confirm that by 2011, Costco beef sales made up 56% of all AAA slaughter beef sold in Canada.
Direct Action Everywhere Montreal is hoping that this protest, in such a busy location in Montreal that sees an equal number of Franophones and Anglophones, will open the hearts and minds of consumers.
They are also hoping it will get Costco to "get with the times," and offer more alternatives to animal by-products, in addition to addressing their "dishonest packaging."
In regards to last night's altercation with Costco staff, Goldberg had this to say:
"Direct Action Everywhere Montreal is calling on Costco to ensure that its employees do not inflict violence on peaceful customers that are speaking out for animals."
To learn more about Direct Action Everywhere Montreal, head to their Facebook page here.