Two animal rights activists, Amy Soranno and Nick Schafer, are appealing their convictions and sentences after being handed a 30-day jail sentence for occupying a Fraser Valley hog farm in British Columbia, Canada. They were convicted of break-and-enter and mischief, connected to a protest at Abbotsford’s Excelsior Hog Farm in April 2019 that saw around 65 activists enter the farm while live streaming online. Their 2019 action was sparked by the release of a video by animal rights group PETA, which showed dead piglets as well as the corpse of a larger pig, and some pigs having trouble standing.
Lawyers for Soranno and Schafer filed an appeal with the BC Court of Appeal, arguing that Justice Frits Verhoeven erred in law by blocking them from showing the jury video evidence of what they describe as animal cruelty at the farm. The appeal states that “while the protest was upsetting to the farm’s owners, [Soranno and Schafer] caused no damage and did not impede access to the property generally.” They also say that Abbotsford police lost and destroyed “crucial evidence central to the activists’ case,” which included video footage from hidden cameras that had been placed on the farm.
The press release states that “Instead of ensuring the preservation of this evidence during an active investigation, the SD cards mysteriously went missing while in police custody,” and “Then, in August 2019, for no apparent reason, the Abbotsford police ordered the destruction of all three cameras the activists were accused of planting in the hog farm.”
Sorrano said, “We will continue to fight for animal rights and to hold accountable those responsible for animal cruelty…Animal agriculture is an entirely hidden industry, with zero transparency and accountability…Because the BCSPCA cannot make unannounced inspections of animal farms without a warrant, their ability to prevent or curb animal abuse is extremely limited. Even when the BCSPCA is provided with video.”