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Charges Dropped Against Bay Area Retiree Over Costco Egg Cruelty Exposé
Activists Hail Result as a “Victory for Animal Rights and Transparency”
February 10, Stockton, CA – This morning, San Joaquin County District Attorney Tori Salazar dropped charges against Diane Gandee Sorbi, 62, an animal advocate who was charged with theft, larceny, and criminal mischief in conjunction with an investigation of a Certified Humane, cage-free Costco egg supplier in San Joaquin County. Gandee Sorbi, a retiree, animal shelter volunteer, and advocate with the animal rights network Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) was alleged to have removed a hen who was featherless, covered in feces, and unable to walk as a result of abuses endured at Pleasant Valley Farms, a supplier of Costco’s Kirkland private label eggs. The exposé broke in The New York Times in October 2016. DxE activists celebrated today’s dismissal as an admission that the public has a right to know about violence against animals on farms.
“Today’s announcement is an admission that caring for a sick and injured animal and exposing her suffering is not something to be condemned,” said Sonya Mehta, a lawyer for Gandee Sorbi at the civil rights firm Siegel & Yee.
In response to charges, announced and covered in the San Francisco Chronicle last Friday, animal advocates nationwide rallied to Gandee Sorbi’s side, placing hundreds of phone calls to the San Joaquin District Attorney’s office. On Twitter, people tweeted at Costco using the hashtag #SupportDiane to draw attention to the case and the investigation that prompted it.
DxE activists have found widespread suffering at two major Costco suppliers in the past year. In July 2016, an investigation into the Farmer John pig farm found mass disease and the use of banned antibiotics at one of Costco’s largest - supposedly “natural” - pig suppliers. In October 2016, DxE released its investigation of Pleasant Valley Farms that prompted Gandee Sorbi’s case. Grassroots activists’ increasing ability to expose corporate misconduct, activists say, has led to politically-motivated attempts like the charges against Gandee Sorbi to silence their speech. As in this case, however, previous attempts to “gag” activists have often ended with charges dropped.
Gandee Sorbi, who lives in Redwood City with her husband Dan, was born in San Francisco and has lived her whole life in the Bay Area. Diane is an avid reader and enjoys fruit and vegetable gardening. She is a regular volunteer at local animal shelters and has a deep love of animals.
“Corporations can commit violence against animals like Ella, the hen at issue in this case, with impunity. We should not punish activists for exposing it,” Mehta said.
Direct Action Everywhere is a network of animal rights activists working to challenge speciesism throughout society. We use creative protest to challenge the use of animals for food, clothing, experimentation, and entertainment. Visit Direct Action Everywhere on facebook and at http://directactioneverywhere.com/. Follow us on Twitter @DxEverywhere.