PETALUMA, Calif. (BCN/AP) - By Bay City News Service
Forty people were arrested this afternoon for misdemeanor trespassing after protesting alleged animal abuse at a farm near Petaluma, the Sonoma County sheriff's office confirmed.
Sheriff's officials said they received a call at noon about trespassers at Sunrise Egg Farms located in the 300 block of Liberty Road.
Someone told deputies that activists had stormed the farm, broke down doors to chicken coops and removed chickens.
Activists alleged that chicken coops at the farm contained rotting birds. Nearly 500 people protested at the farm, according to activists, but sheriff's officials placed the number between 200 and 250.
According to sheriff's officials, the activists demanded to be allowed on the property and videotape what they believed were sick or improperly cared for chickens.
The company had allowed one activist to come on the farm to view the chickens but negotiations broke down when the activists demanded that 20 people with video cameras be allowed on the farm and allowed to take any birds they believed were injured or sick.
Sheriff's officials said following three hours of negotiations, organizers decided they wanted to advance their cause by being arrested. Activists worked with deputies and a predetermined group of people were arrested without any trouble after they trespassed on farm property.
The arrested activists were to be taken to the county jail where they were to be booked and released on a citation to appear in court.
Sheriff's officials said deputies took a report from the activists and will send the report to officials with the California Department of Food and Agriculture, which regulates commercial chicken farms.
Sunrise Farms did not immediately return a call from Associated Press, but its eggs are certified by the nonprofit group Humane Farm Animal Care they reported.