Animal activists disrupt Utah governor’s turkey pardon

A protester is escorted away as Norbest president and CEO Matt Cook speaks at a ceremony to pardon a turkey for Thanksgiving outside of the State Capitol in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017. | Kristin Murphy/The Deseret News via Associated Press, St. George News

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Two animal-rights activists disrupted the Utah governor’s Thanksgiving pardoning of a turkey Tuesday, rushing the podium and shouting as the CEO of a turkey plant spoke to a crowd of mostly children.

The two men rushed past Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and the 40-pound turkey named “Grateful” sitting placidly on a table nearby, demanding to speak to the CEO and shouting “Show us all the barns!”

A protester is escorted away as Norbest president and CEO Matt Cook speaks at a ceremony to pardon a turkey for Thanksgiving outside of the State Capitol in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017. A few animal-rights activists have disrupted the Utah governor’s Thanksgiving pardoning of a turkey. | Kristin Murphy/The Deseret News via Associated Press, St. George News

Video from KUTV showed Herbert’s security detail restrained the men and state troopers escorted them away from the afternoon ceremony in Salt Lake City.

Utah Highway Patrol spokesman Lt. Todd Royce said the two unidentified men were not arrested but cooperated with troopers and left the Capitol.

The men were demonstrating a day after activists released undercover photos and video showing injured, cramped, and diseased birds at Norbest turkey plant in Moroni.

The group Direct Action Everywhere said the images and including documents showing animals with hepatitis and tumors were horrific.

Norbest president and CEO Matt Cook said in a statement to The Salt Lake Tribune that the images were “disturbing” and said the company’s team had ask that farm’s to correct violations in the past.

Cook, who was speaking when the men rushed the stage, said immediately afterward that “despite what some people may think, we have very clear animal care policies and our growers work very hard to adhere to those.”

Herbert did not comment on the incident when he took the stage.

Paul Edwards, a spokesman for the Republican governor, said in a statement that Utah expects farmers to meet the highest safety and humane standards.

“It’s unfortunate that people want to disrupt a fun tradition,” Edwards said, “but, nonetheless, we appreciate that there are passionate feelings about the serious concerns that have been raised.”

Edwards added: “Norbest has assured us that they have proactively addressed these issues prior to the publicity they have received, and we will be monitoring their progress closely.”

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6 Comments

  • Blemonds November 23, 2017 at 6:57 am

    These activists claim to care for animals yet they eat the animals’ food

    • ladybugavenger November 23, 2017 at 8:27 am

      Thats a funny twist lol

  • Sapphire November 23, 2017 at 9:09 am

    Nice thing to post on Thanksgiving, making us wonder if these Norbest turkeys are safe to eat. Good going news.

    • Joyce Kuzmanic Joyce Kuzmanic November 23, 2017 at 9:37 am

      Actually, this report published yesterday, Sapphire. 🙂
      Gobble gobble, enjoy your feast and family.

      ST. GEORGE NEWS
      Joyce Kuzmanic
      Editor in Chief

  • Caveat_Emptor November 23, 2017 at 9:28 am

    Most of us enjoy meat products grown on factory farms. Beef, pork, and poultry. The end game for all these animals is the same. Our only expectation is that they are treated humanely during their lifespans. Genetic selection has zeroed in on the most cost effective way to create the desired meat composition, versus the feed given. Certainly not in the category of “free range”.
    We have seen plenty of video taped examples of questionable, and almost cruel treatment, of these animals.
    Norbest contracts with numerous growers, who are supposed to comply with operating standards for their farms. Norbest is responsible to consumers to ensure compliance with their standards, and cannot deflect blame. It is their responsibility, and we have to ask if they are taking it seriously.
    There are plenty of options when you tour the meat section of your supermarket. Choose wisely.

  • ladybugavenger November 23, 2017 at 5:46 pm

    I do not want my meat abused! I want it to have love not terror….i wonder if tough meat is terrorized meat…(dont attack me too much. I am also amazed my mind comes up with these thoughts)

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