- Takaaki Okada
- The Greenpoint Avenue slaughterhouse
Animal rights activists planned a protest at Lee’s Live Poultry in Greenpoint on Saturday until they realized the slaughterhouse closed months ago, DNAinfo reports. “Last time I was there it was active and recently I’ve only been there at night, so I had no idea,” one activist told the news website. “Since [Farm Animal Rights Movement] had that location in mind and I was familiar with it, we just decided to use that location since it is in a visible area—or it was.” The abattoir, which had been in operation for 85 years, closed in March of its own accord after a visit from government officials. The activists have decided instead to protest two live poultry places in Flushing; I know of one on Sixth Avenue in Sunset Park if you’re looking for another!
But, should we really be protesting slaughterhouses? The reason so many farmed food-animals are treated so poorly is because most people have become alienated from the process and thus feel no ethical responsibility: we don’t see the conditions in which the animals are kept, and in fact state governments have recently proposed and passed legislation to ban the covert filming of livestock, criminalizing the few activist videos that emerge to expose wrongdoing and moral turpitude on the part of owners and workers. As a culture, we take great pains not to have to see the animals we eat. Few people even shop at butchers anymore; we don’t even see the meat get cut, encountering it only plated and cooked in a restaurant; plastic-sealed on a styrofoam bed in the market; or frozen in a cardboard box, products abstractly disconnected from their essence. Does anyone think of actual chickens when they see chicken nuggets? The less we see of how our meat is made, the worse conditions for the animals are allowed to become. See no evil, and evil prospers.
Greenpoint residents for years had complained about the smell of Lee’s Live Poultry, but that’s the smell of killing animals for meat: instead of no slaughterhouses, there ought to be a slaughterhouse on every block, and we should all have to smell that smell every day if we want to keep eating the way we do. Having people confront their food choices might be a more effective way of creating a more just world for animals rather than hiding away those slaughterhouses. Because when Lee’s Live Poultry closes, its chickens aren’t saved: they’re just killed somewhere else where we don’t have to worry about smelling it.
Follow Henry Stewart on Twitter @henrycstewart