The Kentucky Fried Chicken advertising slogan assures consumers that “we do chicken right.”
For teen activist Tomasa Jackson, there’s little truth in that claim. Jackson, a 17-year-old Oak Park resident and new member of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, led a protest against the fast food giant last Saturday to expose what she believes is the unfair treatment of the chain’s chickens.
The protest took place at the KFC restaurant located at 316 Madison St. in Oak Park, several blocks west of Austin Boulevard. Austin and the surrounding West Side has four KFC’s, other national chicken chain eateries like Churches, and a slew of mom and pop restaurants selling fried chicken with whatever recipe of mild sauce they use. But PETA has singled-out KFC because of the torture they say chickens endure at facilities owned by their suppliers.
“I became a member of PETA two months ago because I have always loved animals,” said Jackson, who owns four pit bulls and a goldfish. “And when I saw the footage of the practices of the slaughterhouse employees I was appalled.”
The footage Jackson’s referring to can be found on both PETA’s official website-peta2.com-and on www.kentuckyfriedcruelty.com, a site the activists setup to highlighted the issue.
The video depicts employees at some of KFC’s suppliers stuffing chickens into overcrowded coops, breaking off their beaks in a manner similar to removing a beer bottle cap, and birds being flung through the air like feathered volleyballs.
“The footage really upset me,” said Jackson. “Some asked why does it matter since they were going to be eaten anyway. I agree, but do they have to be tortured in the process?”
Jackson said she received support in planning the protest from other national PETA activists. Her four-hour protest drew about 40 protesters throughout the day. KFC employees called the police, accusing the protesters of trespassing. Officers delivered a warning about prohibiting patrons from entering the restaurant, but allowed the protest to go on.
At one point, the PETA group stopped a woman from entering the restaurant, informed her of their cause and encouraged her to go to Popeyes Chicken instead. The KFC rally went on without further incident. Jackson, though, is hopeful it resonated with area residents.
“I was happy that so many people came out to support the cause,” she said. “I consider it a tremendous success.”