Disrupting the Dodgers: Denver Edition
Kaelyn Schafer's Story
We had an action planned. To disrupt the Dodgers game, to run onto the field with our banners to raise awareness to Miley, the piglet we saved from a farm, and for the animal liberation movement. I was nervous and excited. We four -- Charles, Alyssa, Aidan, and I -- were ready.
On Aidan's cue we all leaped over the edge, down onto the field. Aidan and Charles were taken down first; Alyssa and I had almost gotten the banner unfurled when I was grabbed; Alyssa made it further before she was stopped. Alyssa and I were escorted across the field and taken into custody in the holding stalls in the back of the stadium. Security was dragging Aidan and Charles just behind us. We were separated by assumed gender. (3 of us identifying as non-binary)
The officers asked us (Alyssa and I) for an explanation. We explained that we're protesting animal use, and all/any animal use is NOT okay. The officer said the animals weren't out here fighting, and I said “That's exactly our point. Animals would fight for their lives if they could/we let them. We are standing up for them, and being their voice. We don't NEED anything from animals. Killing them is murder, using them is immoral.”
We were handcuffed, wrists and ankles, and were lead to a transport vehicle. Booking took 3-4 hours; we were searched again and unhandcuffed at this point. All piercings were to come out. I had a migraine during booking, and I took out my contacts so that I'd feel better. I'm near-sighted so I felt safer just staying in my cell and resting.
Close to 4 am we were finally allowed to sleep. Each of us were put in a cell with two other people to sleep on the floor, although we eventually got a bunk. We were under lockdown for 22 hours a day, only allowed out for meals and assigned shower and free time. I wasn't planning on being in long, so skipping a few meals and a shower was not a big deal.
Alyssa stopped by my door at about 10:30am to let me know she had spoken with our friend Justin, who along with Alexis (two activists) were doing everything they could to get us out as soon as possible. It was nice being able to visit with Alyssa, as I think we were all getting stir-crazy. Unfortunately, though, our fingerprints hadn't cleared yet. We had been told around midnight it would take 6 or so hours for our fingerprints to clear, and then we could post bond. We also thought we'd have court that morning, so we had been thinking we'd only be there until the morning, and be home before noon. Sadly, this wasn’t the case. I came out for lunch -- a chunk of bread with peanut butter and jelly, an orange, and some clear, super-sweet juice.
At 1:30pm Alexis visited me via video messaging. It was the first time I heard my name since being placed into my cell. I was so excited to learn more about what was going on. Alexis said she posted bail as soon as our fingerprints had cleared, at noon. They had told her there were 17 people ahead of us 4, and it would be a few hours before we would be out. She was able to show me the picture the press had gotten of Alyssa and me before a guard told her she had to put away her phone.
I had been worried because we hadn't fully gotten our banners up that perhaps we wouldn't be as effective. After seeing the picture and hearing about the media attention, knowing we had friends there for us the entire time, it made me feel proud of what we had done and like it was definitely worth it -- losing some of our freedom for a few hours to bring attention to the fact that animals have no freedom. Alyssa had a visit with Justin towards the end of our visit. I was able to tell her about our success before heading back to my cell. At this point we thought we'd be out by 3-4pm...
At 4:40pm it was time for dinner. I (we) started to worry that we might have to spend another night in jail. When I tried to ask about what was going on at the end of dinner, I was told I had to wait until an undesignated free time later, so we went back to our cells.
At 6:20 Alyssa and I finally heard our names to be released! We were SO glad to finally be getting out. The clock isn't viewable from the cells, so time feels like it moves much slower.
It didn't take long to process out. We all got hugs from everyone, and they had vegan mochi ice cream waiting for us. We took a photo of the original teams holding their original banners in front of the jail and then headed off to a celebratory dinner at Watercourse. It felt SO good to celebrate speaking up for the animals and our freedom with our friends who were there for us the ENTIRE time we sat in jail.
Alyssa Ivankovich's Story
If someone had told me a month ago that I’d be in jail, I would have thought they were joking. But it wasn’t a joke. It happened.
Direct Action Everywhere lit a flame in me that burned bright enough to inspire me to run on to the field at a Dodger’s game as part of a protest to fight for animal rights. This protest was short; I was only on field for about a minute. But that minute and the events following have forever changed my life.
Fast-forward about 5-7 hours after we were brought off the field. It’s 4 a.m. and Kaelyn and I are walking into a big room full of jail cells. It’s cold. There are no vibrant colors except for the bright yellow stripes on our uniforms. It smelled kind of like a hospital, but with an unforgiving sharpness. We were separated into two different cells on the second level. That’s really when I started getting anxious, because I was going to be alone.
I was on the top bunk in my jail cell. Two other people were sleeping when I walked in, one on the other bunk and one on the floor. I had a mat to sleep on and a scratchy blanket. Despite it being relatively comfortable, I knew I wasn’t going to sleep. My hands were shaking and my stomach was a pit of anxiety. I lay there for a couple hours, staring blankly at the ceiling, trying to keep the panic at bay. The jail cell doors were opening and closing repeatedly, each with a loud slamming noise.
Time passed so slowly it was agonizing. We kept hearing we would get out at 8 a.m. ... 12 p.m. ... 3 p.m. .. it kept getting pushed back. The further it got pushed back, the more trapped I felt. I couldn’t help but think that this is how the animals in factory farms feel; terrified, anxious, and trapped. But for them it’s so much worse. Their friends are sick and dying, they have no way of knowing when they’ll get out, and when they finally do get out, it’s to be murdered.
Experiencing even a minute detail of what the animals may feel like in factory farms has reinforced the reason I am an activist and will continue to be active: to fight for animal liberation, until every animal is free.