We assumed the keynote speaker would be speaking at or near the end of the conference, so we arrived just before the 11:00 outdoor protest. I went inside, trying to figure out when and where John Mackey would be speaking. I pretended to take a call to deter staff from talking to me as I approached the registration desk. Instead, the staff interrupted my call to insist on knowing if I was registered, how they could help me, and who I was. They crowded around me so quickly in suspicion that I could not even snap a picture of the schedule.
I saw what I needed to, though: "9:00-9:45: Conversation with John Mackey." We were already too late. Was Mackey speaking early at a hidden and unknown time to hide from us?
This wouldn't be the first time we've seen animal abusers playing defense:
-DxE first released an investigation of Whole Foods in 2015, and soon after that, much of Whole Foods' most aggressive "humane" branding disappeared. (For instance, phrases like "Raised with Care" were replaced with "Raised According to Our Standards.")
-The Whole Foods location in Walnut Creek, California didn't bother with a ceremony at its grand opening last November, likely fearing our activists showing up to speak truth as we'd done previously (and did on that day).
-Local events which celebrate violence are now expecting our protesters and even rehearsing protest protocol with employees.
And now John Mackey is running scared from his own conference. Change is in the air. Violence towards animals is being properly stigmatized, with its perpetrators taking increasingly desperate measures to silence the truth. Let's keep fighting.
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