Animal Protection > Worldwide Actions > United States

High school students protest KFC
May 22, 2006
By JONATHAN CRIBBS

A group of Battery Creek students try to reason with Beaufort Police officer Daniel McKinney while staging an animal-rights protest in front of Kentucky Fried Chicken on Boundary Street on Tuesday evening. At the request of the fast-food restaurant's manager, McKinney told the students to leave because they were being disorderly and blocking the sidewalk.

The seven Battery Creek High School students who showed up to protest Kentucky Fried Chicken on Boundary Street on Tuesday had everything they needed: bold, witty signage, primed vocal chords, dyed hair and clothing and attitude that implied some sort of broad distaste of the status quo.

It was a demonstration of Beaufort proportions.

"Meat is murder!" 16-year-old sophomore Sunny Lee screamed at puzzled customers leaving the drive-thru window. She also held a sign that said "Honk if you love animals!"

The students said they'd gotten their hands on a video from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals -- an undercover investigation that documented extreme abuses of chickens on their way to KFCs across the nation. The video made the nightly news rounds a few years ago, according to PETA Web site kentuckyfriedcruelty.com.

Sunny, who said she had recently converted to vegetarianism, has had a beef -- pun intended -- with unhealthy food or animals that are killed to become food. Battery Creek's cafeteria hasn't been serving up a melange of health-nut selections either, she said.

"All I've been eating is french fries and stuff because that's all that's available," she said.

So onward, they said, holding signs that read, "Broken & Abused: Nobody does chicken like KFC" and "KENTUCKY FRIED CRUELTY."

Lauren Bartlebaugh, a 16-year-old 11th-grader, held her sign up for oncoming cars speeding down Boundary Street.

"I just think they should lose their support from customers until they comply with PETA and make the chickens' lives more bearable," she said.

Inside the store, customers chowed down on aromatic chicken thighs, breasts and wings.

"Everybody has their own opinion," Barbara Bryant, 33, of Beaufort said as she and her daughter Shelby, 11, finished ordering their meals. "I don't believe in what they're doing, but everyone has their own opinion. ... If you don't eat (chickens) it's going to get overcrowded and diseases will come -- kind of like the bird flu."

Then a restaurant employee picked up a phone and called the police. Beaufort officer Daniel McKinney arrived stern, armed and determined to get them off the sidewalk.

"You're blocking the sidewalk. You're yelling. You're causing a disturbance," he said. "Don't make this into something that it doesn't have to be. This is the last time I'm going to tell you."

The group fired back, albeit timidly. One girl piped up: "Don't we have, like, a right to assemble?"

McKinney assured them that, no, in his authoritative opinion, their disturbance was just too loud, too dangerous and too much of an obstacle for Boundary Street sidewalk foot traffic. Freshman Andrew Schabbing ran from the sidewalk to the parking lot, away from the police officer.

"I'm not gettin' busted for some dumb" protest, he said.

And with that, the protest pretty much ended. But Mariah Fier, 14, a freshman, was satisfied. She can't be a vegetarian -- her doctor won't let her -- so protesting serves her well.

"If I could (be a vegetarian), I would," she said. "And I've tried."

Sunny assured everyone that the short-lived protest was still a success.

"Guys, we got like a million honks, so this has been great."