PINELLAS PARK (FOX 13) - Free chicken sandwiches for several customers were tainted by protests at a Chick-fil-A on Tuesday when a group showed up to 'Cow Appreciation Day' wearing animal masks and bloody clothing.
Tina Leacock and some of her friends brought their children to the restaurant, located in the Shoppes at Park Place in Pinellas Park, just before noon.
“Altogether, we had 19 kids with us, ranging from the age from 18 months to 9 years old,” said Leacock.
Shortly after putting most of the children in the play area, Leacock said she saw protesters storm through the door shouting. She recorded video on her cell phone as customers looked on baffled.
“What you didn’t see on the video was when they first walked in, they actually slit the throats of the chicken and the person dressed up as a cow, and then they fell down to the ground,” said Leacock.
One of the protesters held a fake bloody knife. They chanted, “It’s not food, it’s violence.” Customers chanted back, telling them to “Get out.”
“We came in there with the approach to show the reality of this is what’s happening to these animals,” explained Kayla Leaming, an organizer with Direct Action Everywhere, the group that was behind the protest.
Leaming said the protesters did not approve of Cow Appreciation Day because “We feel like that was feeding into the speciesism that we’re trying to fight. Speciesism is basically just the idea that one life is more important than the other, simply because of the body they were born into.”
Some of the customers and protests argued with one another as managers called 911. By the time Pinellas Park police arrived, the protesters had already left. No one has been arrested as of yet for the incident.
“I’m all for everybody being able to speak their own mind and tell their opinion on what they believe in, but they kind of crossed the line when they proceeded to slit the throats of human beings,” said Leacock. “Kids couldn’t tell the difference between what’s real and fake.”