RCMP cut free activists chained to Kelowna bank, placed under arrest – Cowichan Valley Citizen

RCMP cut free activists chained to Kelowna bank, placed under arrest - Cowichan Valley Citizen
Protesters lock themselves to Kelowna credit union over its support of RibFest
RCMP officers used a pair of large bolt cutters to remove chains that animal rights activists had attached to the front doors of a credit union in Kelowna, B.C., Monday morning after the protesters refused to leave the area.

Seven women locked themselves to the doors of Interior Savings earlier in the day to protest the bank's sponsorship of a meat-themed event called Ribfest, which is held in several B.C. communities each summer.

The activists were joined by about a dozen other protesters holding signs calling for the credit union to stop supporting the event, and an end to animal cruelty.

Interior Savings issued a news release that said it did meet with the protesters about their concerns but it added that it remains remains committed to supporting top-notch community events that raise tens of thousands of dollars for those in our community, who need a helping hand.

"Other banks are supporting things like MS and Pride whereas Interior Savings is funding a completely socially irresponsible event for the animals and for climate change," said activist Tessa Gordey, who co-owns a Kelowna vegan restaurant.

Interior Savings said Rib Fest is one of those events, which raises thousands of dollars to support local charities including Jo-Annas House,  a home away from home for people whose families are receiving life-saving support from Kelowna General Hospital.

"Eating meat is turning more socially irresponsible. Everybody is really starting to see what is going on inside the [hog] farms."

Members of the RCMP arranged for a meeting between the credit union and two of the protesters mid-morning.

After the meeting failed to resolve the situation police officers warned the activists they would be arrested if they refused to clear themselves from the bank's entrance doors.

ORIGINAL: About 20 animal rights activists chained themselves to a Kelowna building early Monday morning to protest against an annual event they say they’ve been trying to stop for years.

"I mediated this the best I could and have come to the conclusion that it wasn't going to change and they told me that they weren't going to leave, so I made the decision to forcibly remove them," said Sgt. Greg Woodcox.

A group of animal rights activists have chained themselves to the doors of Interior Savings this morning. They want Interior Savings to stop sponsoring Ribfest. pic.twitter.com/qeqwH39nIk

The protesters moved from the bank's doors at the direction of the RCMP after officers cut the chains holding them in place. 

Interior Savings said it appreciates and respects that everyone has a right to their opinion, to share their opinion and to choose a diet that makes sense for them.

Woodcox said the seven women will be released from custody today and will each face a possible charge of mischief.

The protesters said they are not affiliated with any particular group but rather they are concerned citizens, who care about animal rights and the environment.

In April, Soranno was one of dozens of activists who entered a pig farm in Abbotsford for several hours until they were escorted out by police officers.

In a statement, Interior Savings said it met with the protestors to hear their concerns about the sponsorship of Ribfest.

"Interior Savings remains committed to supporting top-notch community events that raise tens of thousands of dollars for those in our community who need a helping hand," wrote community engagement manager Corine Johnson.

“Our one ask here today is we’d like Interior Savings to drop their sponsorship for Rib Fest,” Soranno said.

Brady Strachan is a CBC reporter based in Kelowna, B.C. Besides Kelowna, Strachan has covered stories for CBC News in Winnipeg, Brandon, Vancouver and internationally. Follow his tweets @BradyStrachan

The animal rights activists were arrested for mischief and will have to appear in court at a later date.

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

The protesters chained themselves to the Interior Savings building on Bernard Avenue just after 7 a.m.

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Animal rights activists locked themselves to the doorway of an Interior Savings branch in downtown Kelowna to protest the credit unions support of a local rib festival.

VANCOUVER – Animal rights activists locked themselves to the entrance of an Interior Savings location on Monday morning in protest of the credit unions support of RibFest Kelowna.

The group of protesters prevented the downtown Kelowna branch from opening after they blocked the doorway for about three hours. In a statement, the activists said Interior Savings plays a "big role" in sponsoring the August event and other RibFests across the province and called on the credit union to cease its sponsorship of the event.

"We will continue to escalate our tactics until Interior Savings does drop their sponsorship. We have protested their sponsorship of RibFest for many years now," said protester Amy Soranno. "Our concerns have been ignored and they havent been addressed. So we are escalating our tactics and we will continue to do so until our concerns are met."

The protesters met with an executive from the credit union but were unsatisfied with the meeting, according to Sgt. Greg Woodcox with Kelowna RCMP.

The protesters vowed to remain on-site until their demand was met, but they were removed by RCMP around 11 a.m. Mounties used bolt cutters to remove the chains, and the protesters were eventually put into the back of a police cruiser.

"I asked them if they were going to move after theyd made their point and that and they said, no, they werent going to move unless they were forcibly removed or arrested," said Cox. "We made a decision to conduct the arrest of I believe seven or eight females here for mischief."

Cox said the demonstrators would be transported to the detachment where they would try to get them unhooked from each other and be released on a promise to appear at a later date.

The activists also expressed concern over Excelsior Hog Farms involvement in various local RibFests. The demonstrators said the Abbotsford farm supplies pig ribs to many RibFest vendors. It came under scrutiny in the spring after PETA released video they say was shot at the farm, which shows dead piglets, an adult pigs corpse and pigs covered with tumours. Demonstrators gathered at the farm in April wearing T-shirts that read "Meat the Victims." The operators of the farm, Ray and Jeff Binnendyk, conducted a tour of the farm after the footage was released and argued that PETA had misrepresented what happens at the facility. The SPCA investigated the video and did not recommend any charges.

In a statement, Interior Savings said it met with the activists to hear their concerns. The credit union also said it supports events that bring the community together and raise money to support local non-profits.

"RibFest offers free and accessible entertainment to everyone in the community. Like most community events, it offers a selection of food options to suit peoples preferences," said the statement. "Interior Savings appreciates and respects that everyone has a right to their opinion and to choose a diet that makes sense for them."

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