Pig Slaughterhouse Draws Weekly Vigil

Community members comfort animals at Farmer John warehouse in Vernon


Anibal Duarte

Farmer John warehouse located in Vernon.

Anibal Duarte, Community News Reporter

Some call it a protest. Others call it a vigil. What’s clear to observers of a weekly gathering at the Farmer John warehouse in Vernon is that the event is full of heart.

The point is to show these pigs “love and kindness because they won’t get it anywhere else in their short life,” said Brian Hernandez, a Highland Park resident who works at a pizza shop and is an activist with the so-called LA Animal Save movement.

Every Sunday, activists like Hernandez gather near the warehouse entrance that is used by a truck carrying the pigs.

As the truck attempts to turn in, the protestors get in the way of the truck, delaying it for at least a few minutes. While the truck is stopped, the activists attempt to comfort the pigs in the trucks by giving them water.

The day and time of the weekly vigil changes from time to time and can be found at laanimalsave.org, under the “resources” tab.

While the event outside Farmer John is considered a protest, it is also considered peaceful because the activists say they don’t use violence nor are they ever stopped from protesting. Often, one will find police officers at the protest to ensure things remain peaceful. 

That said, police officers at the scene don’t stop the activists from feeding or getting in the way of the truck with pigs, according to laanimalsave.org. The police appear to be there to ensure the safety of the protestors as well as the safety of the truck driver.

The LA Animal Save movement comes from a broader global movement based on “bearing witness” or “being in the face of injustice and trying to help,” according to The Save Movement. 

Roman Banuelos, a Whittier College student who lives and works in Boyle Heights, said animals are beings who live and suffer — just like people.

He said, “No matter the suffering of a person or thing, in this case the pigs, you can’t just do nothing. You have to try and help them in anyway.”

A representative from Smithfield Foods, Inc., which acquired Farmer John in 2016, said the protests have happened before the company changed hands.

“At Smithfield Foods, we respect the rights of groups and individuals to express their views. This includes the peaceful protests that regularly occur outside our Vernon, California, Farmer John processing facility,” Keira Lombardo, executive vice president of Corporate Affairs and Compliance at Smithfield, said in an email. “During any demonstration, Smithfield works with local law enforcement and protest leaders to ensure the safety of the protestors, our employees, our animals, and the public. Because of these coordinated efforts, the public demonstrations do not impact Farmer John’s production process or our ability to serve our customers and consumers.”

Community News reporters are enrolled in JOUR 3910 – University Times. They produce stories about under-covered neighborhoods and small cities on the Eastside and South Los Angeles. Please email feedback, corrections and story tips to [email protected]