August 07 2008
By Devon Moriarty
Foie Gras anyone? Apparently none for Joanne Chang, who was arrested while protesting the controversial dish outside of Vancouver?s high-end West restaurant two weeks ago.
Foie Gras, which is French for "fatty liver" is a delicacy made from duck liver. Ducks are force-fed through long metal pipes until their liver expands to 10 times the normal size.
"We try to connect with the restaurants before hand and talk to them," says a very passionate Chang. "West had gone to the papers and said that they had taken it off their menu. Once they got the publicity they put it back on the menu."
Chang, 34, who works with Liberation B.C, an animal rights organization, is eager to share her strategy. "We like to move from restaurant to restaurant and we like to stay at each one for one to two months."
In the past, Liberation B.C. has held protests outside of KFC in Vancouver, and has never had any problems with the police.
"I protest a lot and nothing like this ever happens," Chang says. "We find we have been harassed a lot by police because we are going after high-end restaurants in high-end neighbourhoods."
While members of Liberation B.C. were protesting on Granville Street in front of West on July 18, the police were called by an unknown party complaining about the use of a megaphone.
"A woman asked us to turn it off and we did. When the police arrived it wasn?t being used anymore," Chang says. "The police wanted to write a report and they asked for my identification. I said that I didn?t want to give my ID because legally I do not need to unless I am under arrest, being ticketed or driving. Then I was arrested just to get my information."
On the spot, Chang was thrown into a paddy wagon.
"I had to ask to have my rights read to me. They told me I was under arrest for mischief, causing a disturbance and obstructing an officer."
According to Vancouver Police Dept. Const. Tim Fanning, Chang was arrested for being party to the megaphone and causing a disturbance by refusing to give her identification.
"We were called from a resident who complained about their megaphone," says Const. Fanning. "They (Liberation B.C.) never made it clear who was using the megaphone. She (Chang) started yelling at the officers."
Despite being arrested, Chang says she won?t stop her fight for animal rights.
"The police need to be held accountable for their actions, There was a clear bias here and the rights of individuals were violated to protect a business.
"We?re out here to bring attention to the suffering of animals who have no defense and cannot speak for themselves. The interests of the wealthy should not trump freedom of expression."
The big question on the activists? minds now is whether West management will take Foie Gras off their menu for good.