Animal Rebellion activist tells Smithfield Meat Market traders irked by peaceful occupation: ‘there’s no jobs on dead planet’
- Credit: Archant
Animal Rebellion (AR) peacefully occupied Smithfield Meat Market in opposition to the animal killing industry on Monday – and only their police liaison officer was arrested.
Up to 1,000 activists from the autonomous but Extinction Rebellion affiliated group descended on the historic Farringdon market dishing up their own "plant-based" treats to model an alternative to "the destructive animal farming and fishing industries".
About 400 protestors camped out in the market, before moving to join their Extinction Rebellion comrades in central London yesterday morning as part of a planned two-weeks of resistance.
Alex Lockwood, of AR, told the Gazette: "We're happy because we did disruption in a different way. We didn't go there to have a massive fight between angry vegans and meat eaters. People have said they lost money but there aren't any jobs on a dead planet. We are really sorry for the inconvenience but we feel we made an impact, saying the status quo can't continue."
He says AR has nothing against the traders and entered into dialogue with market chiefs and stall-holders beforehand, inviting staff to meet them for a cuppa at a nearby vegan cafe.
Alex said the atmosphere was intense as people on the upper floors of the market were jeering at them but said most traders were respectful and some even agreed with them.
"It was hard," Alex added. "I'll be honest it only clicked in the morning why people were lighting incense all the time - it was for the smell of carcasses."
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He praised Islington Council for changing its licensing rules last month, meaning it will soon be illegal to sell fur at markets in the borough.
Alex added: "For us this rebellion is about transforming people's mind sets from being those who stand and watch to those who stand and act. We don't have much time left; government has taken no serious action on climate change and people need to send a message."
The Smithfield Market Tenants' Association has been approached for comment.
Tim Bonner, chief exec of farming lobby group Countryside Alliance said: "Shutting down Smithfield Meat Market is divisive and totally wrong. Animal Rebellion should be encouraging the purchase of high welfare, grass-fed British beef and lamb which would cut down our carbon footprint whilst supporting British farmers.
"Activists are alienating people rather than actually providing answers to the challenges facing the environment and the countryside. "