Central Pennsylvania Save Chapter: Origins
Posted in: Activism
Origins of Activism
On the way home from a concert in Pittsburgh last year, I was looking out onto the scenic Pennsylvania backroads when, out of the corner of my eye, I caught glimpse of something large and silver – a truck. I see trucks fairly often in my daily life (since I live near a UPS warehouse), but this truck was different. It sped past our car, and I soon realized that one of my worst fears was happening, right in front of me. It was a transport truck. I saw a sliver of pink within the holes of the silver beast, and I soon realized it was hauling pigs. In the car with me was my good friend and her mom. They saw the truck as well and both of them exclaimed “Aww pigs!” Then they looked away and that was their last thought about it – nothing more, nothing less. In my head, it couldn’t have been more different. Through the holes I saw a couple pigs, and I have never been more awake than I was in that moment. Those pigs had opened my eyes to something I had never thought about before: how they’re transported, and taken, from being in the dark their whole lives into the bright world for all to see. My eyes teared up and I wanted to cry in frustration because the truck drove away so fast, and then they were gone. Shortly after the truck was out of vision, I did a search on my phone: slaughterhouses near me. I found out that we were only thirty minutes away from one. I knew that meant by the time I got home, those pigs would likely be gone. And with those short seconds of my life, it began something brand new for me: the start of Central Pennsylvania Save chapter.
The Save Movement is comprised of groups from around the world who bear witness to farmed animals on their way to slaughter. All over the world, people will come together to hold vigils and bear witness to the suffering and pain these animals endure. Vigils are events set up by each group, mainly at slaughterhouses, where transport trucks are stopped or slowed down so activists can photograph and say goodbye to the animals aboard the trucks. Advocating for anti-speciesism, veganism, and telling the public about the plight of these animals is the main goal. The Save Movement was started in 2010 in Toronto with Toronto Pig Save by Anita Kranjc..
I was following the Save Movement on Facebook, following Anita Kranjc’s “Pig Trial”. I never thought about starting a chapter here in good ol’ Pennsylvania. At this time I had also taken over co-leadership of what used to be Direct Action Everywhere’s Harrisburg chapter, which is now known as Harrisburg Area Animal Action. This happened after quite a few members had moved to Berkeley, California, where the animal rights movement was taking over by storm. Taking over a group so quickly and unexpectedly was a rude awakening for me, but this experience gave me some of the confidence I needed for the future of our Save chapter.
A few months passed.One day, one of the former members of our group (who had moved) messaged me about a “forum” that was happening in Berkeley. She really wanted me to come, knowing how much I’m trying to fight for animals here in PA, and she thought me being with so many other like minded people would be a rewarding experience. She bought me a ticket to and I was so excited I posted about it onto my Facebook wall. That’s when I found out that another member from HAAA was also flying out to California for the forum!
I had never had a conversation with this other activist flying out to CA, but I was aware of her commitment and passion for animals. Barbara Krause has been a dedicated activist and vegan for quite a few years. I was really excited to get to know her and it made me feel better knowing someone traveling to the forum. Within a few months, I was off to California for my first animal rights forum. It was a week of learning new things, meeting new people and fighting for animal liberation! It was here that my thoughts about having a Save chapter found footing and really took off.
Anita Kranjc herself was at this conference. When she gave her speech, I have never been more inspired in my life. The videos she showed, the words she spoke, they inspired us and brought us to tears. Anita handed out “Save Chapter Start Up” packages to people who were interested, with a handbook and everything we’d need to start a group. I took the papers in my hand and I knew I wanted to do it. I also knew Barb wanted to as well, but I am not sure if either of us believed we’d actually go through with it. The rest of the week at the forum was life-changing and inspiring. I went back home with a heart full of passion, ready to do something.
We went home. Only weeks later, we were scouting local slaughterhouses. The closest that we knew of at the time was a Tyson “chicken processing plant” in New Holland, PA. That was our first target. I bought some signs and so did Barb. We set up our Facebook page and I invited everyone I knew to “like” it. It took a couple more weeks of scouting before we finally had our first vigil. About 16 people came, one of the bigger turnouts for our local protests/demos. We stood outside the entrance to the facility with signs in hand, waiting for a truck full of chickens to pull up any moment. Luckily, no trucks came that day, but we had very interesting interactions with the locals. We felt overall that we had reached some people with our message.
It was a great feeling that we had actually done what originally I wasn’t sure I could do. I never thought I could start something like this. I am a founder and organizer for my very own group! It is an amazing feeling and thanks to Barb we are still going strong. We have since been focusing our efforts at another slaughterhouse called Plainville Farms in New Oxford, PA. They are an “organic and humane” turkey slaughterhouse that we have been non-stop visiting and documenting the conditions the birds are succumbed to. We have not let up, and while turnouts to our vigils have been very up and down, we continue steadfast. This year, 2018, we have plans to continue to visit Plainville and to research and scout out more slaughterhouses. We do not enjoy witnessing death and torment, but we know that it is our moral responsibility to document and share what the reality behind people’s “food” choices really are. We have no plans to stop and we hope to see you at a vigil one day!
Check us out on our Facebook page here!