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Protest averted at dairy farm in cruelty case
Home The News Protest averted at dairy farm in cruelty case

150 officers turn out near Plain City after activist calls for violence

Tuesday, June 1, 2010  02:51 AM

By Bill Bush


Anyone driving Rt. 42 between Plain City and Delaware yesterday afternoon might have thought they stumbled into a war zone.

About 150 law-enforcement officers, many dressed in SWAT gear and backed up by a helicopter and at least one armored vehicle, were scattered around a dairy farm that was the focus of a grisly animal-cruelty video that has gone viral on the Internet.

Police were trying to thwart an activist's call for people to come to the Conklin Dairy Farm with "bolt cutters, bats, crowbars, pitchforks, hammers and wrenches to help destroy every piece of equipment the farm has, and tear down the sheds."

Activist Gary Yourofsky's message also suggested that people bring weapons to defend themselves against farm workers and police. "I am not asking you to harm anyone if it is NOT in you to harm someone although those who wish to will have my FULL SUPPORT," it said.

Yourofsky said he called off the attack Sunday afternoon after learning that police were planning to show up. He didn't come, but several others did. They said they simply wanted to protest peacefully.

"It's really horrifying to learn about some of the conditions going on," said Klara Box, 37, a nurse who drove up from Columbus with her husband. "I really believe that we can do better."

Jason Box said the police response seemed like overkill.

"They're making holiday pay, and helicopters and tanks and whatever - I think they overreacted," said Mr. Box, 37, an Ohio State University geography professor. And all because "some wingnut on the Internet says something."

The Boxes said they wanted to stand along the road with a sign that said "Humane farms now," but police wouldn't let them park their car.

Sgt. Chris Skinner of the Union County sheriff's office said no one had a permit to protest, and there was no suitable public land near the farm to do so anyway. Cars are not allowed to park on state routes or county roads, and standing along Rt. 42 would have been dangerous, he said.

"We have to be prepared," Skinner said of the response, which he said "will be very costly."

Prosecutors are reviewing state and federal law to see whether Yourofsky can be prosecuted for making threats to destroy the farm, Skinner said.

The video, secretly taped by an undercover employee from an animal-rights group, shows farmers beating cows in the head with crowbars, stabbing them with pitchforks and ripping young calves away from their mothers, throwing them to the ground and punching them in the head at the Conklin Dairy Farm, just northwest of Dublin.

The farm fired worker Billy Joe Gregg, the primary person in the video. He is charged with 12 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty.

Mercy For Animals, the animal-rights group based in Chicago that produced the video, had tried to stop the protest. It released a statement yesterday urging "concerned citizens to remain patient while law enforcement investigates the matter."

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First Posting 25-03-2010 06:51:39 RoyRogers59