WEST TOWN — About 25 activists tried to shut down Chicago Avenue on Monday to protest a chicken slaughterhouse that often attracts long lines from customers seeking fresh poultry.
The Monday morning interference perplexed Pollos Vivos butcher Sam Abed, who said that he allowed some members of the activist group to take a tour of the facility last Thursday, 1636 W. Chicago Ave.
"They said to stop it, to change the business. This is like someone coming to say, 'I want no snow in Chicago.' How do you handle it? She said she feels bad for the animals. I said, 'You don't have to see it,' " said Abed.
"I wish they would have went to KFC; they kill a lot more chickens across America, but they come to a small mom-and-pop store," he added.
Kelsey Atkinson, an organizer from Chicago Animal Save, said that Monday's protest — which was peacefully broken up by Chicago police around 10 a.m. — was inspired by the tour that two Chicago Animal Save members took of Alliance Poultry Farm Market, which operates under the name Pollos Vivos, which is Spanish for live chickens.
During the tour, the protestors snapped photos and took videos of the chickens. When the protestors returned on Monday, they left roses in the chicken cages.
On Monday night, the group posted a video of Monday's protest on their Facebook page.
"Compassion is intrinsic in everyone, we just get conditioned out of it by the constant brainwashing from the media, which exists for one thing - profit," activist Alana Parekh said in a statement posted with the video.
It urged viewers to "listen to your heart — are you a protector or a predator?"
"We are determined to change the direction of our food system for the benefit of everyone — animals and humans alike," Parekh said, adding that part of its mission is to "convince slaughterhouse workers to surrender animals for rescue."
"We selected Alliance Poultry because they specialize in Amish, free-range chickens and we believe that it does not matter how humanely the animals may have been raised, it is still wrong to kill them," Atkinson told DNAinfo on Tuesday.
Atkinson said that during the protest some people walking or driving by put up their fists "in solidarity."
Officer Nicole Trainor, a Chicago Police spokeswoman, confirmed officers "responded to a call of disturbance with protestors blocking traffic" around 10:04 a.m. Monday in the 1600 block of West Chicago Avenue. Trainor said no arrests were made.
Pollos Vivos owner Fayyad Abdallah was out of town last week and this week, according to Abed, who said that the owner allowed for the tour.
"Nobody ate meat. They stayed 10 or 15 minutes and they left," Abed said.
In a news release, Atkinson said, "This slaughterhouse’s gruesomeness just underlines the horrible and unnecessary violence inherent to all slaughterhouses in Chicago and beyond. It is our mission to expose and shut down these slaughterhouses once and for all."
Activists with Chicago Animal Save have been blocking slaughterhouse trucks and holding vigils for animals since October 2016, according to a news release. Earlier on Monday before Pollos Vivos, Atkinson said Chicago Animal Save activists also protested at Halsted Packing House, 445 N. Halsted St. and Park Packing, 4107 S. Ashland Ave.
The Pollos Vivos slaughterhouse has been operating for 64 years under a variety of names.
Abed said that the slaughterhouse was started in 1953 and that Abdallah took over the business from the founding owners in 1982.
After last Thursday's tour, three of the activist posted a reaction video on Facebook and vowed to come back to Pollos Vivos. They said near the end of their visit, they tried to save a chicken and take the bird with them, but were unsuccessful.