From the Animal Agriculture Alliance
The Animal Save movement inspires animal rights extremists to demonstrate near entrances of farms and other agricultural facilities by stopping drivers so they can “bear witness” to the livestock. This is potentially dangerous for drivers, the livestock, the protestors and a company’s reputation. Below are some proactive measures to help you prepare.
- Contact law enforcement proactively and express concerns about someone potentially getting hurt. You can’t really stop them if they are not on private property, but having law enforcement present may keep the activists from escalating. Have this discussion now – while you don’t have protestors –to let them know what’s happened elsewhere or at your plant previously, to make them aware that you need help right away.
- Alert your drivers protesters may appear near the plant. Ask for their cooperation with the following:
- Notification – Ask your drivers to call the company hot line or management point of contact (POC), if they see any protestors near the plant.
- Stay Calm – If by angry, hostile protestors, instruct drivers to stay calm and not confront or retaliate against the protestors. The driver should immediately call company POC, and company security staff or the local police should be the ones to diffuse any hostile situations. If a driver believes he is in imminent danger or risk of injury or property damage, then he should call 911 immediately.
- Prepare a statement and designate one or two key people as “official spokesmen” i.e., the president and/or director of animal welfare. (tip: Female spokespeople – especially female veterinarians – have the most favorability/credibility). Activists are hoping reporters show up or hear about the protest, so be prepared for potential media calls.
- The statement should be short, to-the-point, and pro-active. Demonstrators are out to create “news” to further publicize their agenda. Do not depart from your approved statement or get drawn into “who-shot- John” debates.
- Do not engage the organization or individuals.
- Monitor social media – especially the state or local Animal Save’s Facebook page – to see how much interaction there is on the protest or to anticipate future events.
- If the posts turn negative by activists or even the public, use this an opportunity to answer questions and post factual information in response to misinformation. At the same time, be aware of inflammatory ‘trolls’ who may post profanity or disturbing images. Make sure whoever is managing your official social media accounts knows when to avoid engaging with radical activists who are not interested in having a conversation or learning more.
- If you do not have one already, consider creating an official social media policy to post on your channels that states how you will handle profane, defamatory or inappropriate posts.
- DO NOT GET ANGRY. Remember to not stoop to the level of the activists, do not use this as a platform to fight. Ensure posts are professional, polite and respectful.
- Should protests continue to disrupt business, an injunction may be considered. Read more here. Violating an injunction is considered contempt of court and enforcement measures include fines and incarceration. Information obtained from Animal Agriculture Alliance.