An animal rights protest outside Glen’s Packing Co. in downtown Hallettsville on Thursday took an unexpected turn when a local resident threw a live pig at one of the demonstrators.
The resident was cited for Class C assault, Hallettsville Police Lt. Erica Vaccaro said Friday.
The protester, Brian Wheat, of Austin, was uninjured and plans to press charges.
“A lot of our chants involve freedom for the animals,” Wheat said. “This individual was agitated enough by our presence that he said, ‘Here, you want an animal to be free?’ as he assaulted us with the pig.”
Wheat is an organizer with a recently formed animal rights coalition called Texas Animal Freedom Fighters. He and five other organizers from Houston, Austin, San Antonio and Killeen, representing TAFF and the Austin chapter of the Animal Save Movement, convened in the city of 2,500 Thursday morning.
They planned to hold a vigil for animals slaughtered at Glen’s Packing that day. When no animals showed up, the group shifted tactics and started protesting.
The slaughterhouse was opened by the Dolezal family in 1972 and processes cattle “raised and purchased locally and around the state,” according to its website.
Nobody from Glen’s Packing was available to comment on Friday.
SHOCKING: Today we paid a visit to Glen's "meat" packing #slaughterhouse in #Hallettsville, #Texas. A deranged resident decided to drag a wild pig from his trailer, throw him on the ground, and assault one of our activists. There is no excuse for animal abuse! #AnimalLiberation pic.twitter.com/ER5eUlS7Gw— Texas Animal Freedom Fighters (@TXAnimalFreedom) June 12, 2020
Wheat said he and other Texas-based animal rights activists have escalated protests since the pandemic started. Several large-scale meatpacking plants in the state have been the source of COVID-19 outbreaks, including Tyson Foods plants in Center, Sherman and Amarillo and a JBS Beef plant north of Amarillo.
No such outbreak is associated with Glen’s Packing. Lavaca County, where Hallettsville is located, had reported 22 cases of the new coronavirus as of Friday afternoon.
“I definitely want to go after the bigger corporate slaughterhouses and punch upward,” Wheat said. “We weren’t specifically targeting the smaller businesses. We just thought we’d be able to see some live animals there.”
A series of photos on Facebook shows a man wearing a green Texas T-shirt and camouflage Crocs remove the pig from a trailer, slam it against the pavement, and hoist it by the legs toward the curb where the protesters were assembled.
In a video shared on Facebook, the pig can be seen scampering north on North La Grange Street and off into the distance.
“It wasn’t a terrible outcome for us because we’re animal liberationists,” Wheat said. “The pig was eventually set free.”