Washington (CNSNews.com) - The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals Thursday staged a protest outside a KFC restaurant in Washington, D.C., alleging that the company mistreats chickens, but was met with resistance from local residents who shouted at the animal rights activists to "go home."
About 40 PETA activists holding signs reading, "The Colonel's Secret Recipe: Live, Scalding, Painful, Debeaking, Crippled Chickens," "Non-Violence begins at breakfast" and "If you pet a dog, don't eat a pig," took part in the sidewalk demonstration outside the KFC outlet in northwest Washington.
"KFC breeds and drugs animals so that they cripple under their own weight," Bruce Friedrich, PETA's director of vegan outreach, said in an interview with CNSNews.com.
"[KFC] drowns them and burns them in scalding tanks. If a dog or a cat were treated this way, everybody involved could be put in prison for felony cruelty to animals in more than 40 states," Friedrich said.
According to Friedrich, KFC buys 750 million chickens every single year and "[has] done nothing to eliminate their worst abuses. At the end of the day," he added, "if people are opposed to cruelty to animals, they should adopt a vegetarian diet."
But several local residents mocked and shouted insults at the PETA protesters.
"They're here protesting over some damn chicken. They need to be protesting about [the] homeless and guns and people who are sick in this damn world," said Tracy Leak, who lives near the KFC.
"All these drug dealers and murderers and killers [in Washington], and they're here protesting over some damn chicken. That's stupid," Leak told CNSNews.com.
Leak engaged in a shouting match with a female PETA activist who was handing out pieces of meatless food samples to highlight alternatives to chicken.
"That crap - that is nasty," said Leak after sampling a piece of the meatless food. "I don't want something nasty, I want something good. You ain't gonna take no chicken from me," Leak screamed at the PETA activist.
Another local resident, who identified herself as Sharon, criticized PETA's anti-meat agenda.
"Everything [has] got to have something wrong with it. Don't eat hamburger. [There] ain't nothing wrong with chicken," Sharon told CNSNews.com.
"They just for show," Sharon said of the protesters. "Go home," she shouted to the crowd on the sidewalk in front of the KFC.
A male passerby, who identified himself as Padilla, also criticized PETA's protest and the whole animal rights message.
"[Animals are] providing food for us humans. What would you rather see, the chickens walking or us healthy?" Padilla asked.
A PETA activist, who identified herself only as Erin, said Thursday's demonstration would "hopefully persuade a few people to maybe make some changes in their diets."
"Every year on average, a vegetarian saves 83 [chicken] lives, so that is why we are here today," Erin said. "Most of us are against eating meat as a whole," she added. "In the end, it is best to do away with factory farms altogether."
A man identifying himself as Derek said: "If we are gonna eat flesh, then let it be flesh raised properly."
"We just care about our children and the future of this country - actually, the future of the world," Derek added.
The manager of the KFC restaurant targeted for the demonstration declined to comment for this article, but a spokesman for an advocacy arm of the restaurant, food and beverage industry called PETA's protest of KFC misleading.
"PETA does its best to increase the cost of doing business, and the retail price of meat, by demanding more wing-flapping room, more humane - read expensive - slaughter methods and even mandatory play-toys for pigs," said David Martosko, director of research for the Center for Consumer Freedom.
"If every livestock animal in America were given its own apartment, limousine and personal trainer, PETA would still argue that they have the "right" to not be eaten. Thankfully, most Americans see how ridiculous this position is," Martosko told CNSNews.com.
PETA's anti KFC campaign is part of the group's larger mission, according to Martosko.
"The group's overall goal is to force American consumers to completely give up beef, pork, poultry and dairy foods, whether they like it or not," Martosko said.
He also accused PETA of advocating violence against restaurants. Martosko's group is supporting an IRS complaint filed by the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise, which alleges PETA has supported FBI designated domestic terrorist groups like the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) and Earth Liberation Front (ELF).
PETA has denied the allegations in the IRS complaint.
Friedrich dismissed Martosko's comments and accused the Center for Consumer Freedom of being "whores for the meat and tobacco industry."
"They can't win on the facts," Friedrich said.
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