Animal rights advocates, counter-protesters clash at slaughterhouse where activist died

Animal rights advocates and counter-protesters clashed this morning in front of the slaughterhouse where activist Regan Russell was hit and killed by a truck in June.

Truck driver has been charged with careless driving in death of activist

Two groups of protesters clashed outside of a slaughterhouse in Burlington where animal rights activist, Regan Russell was hit and killed by a truck in June. (Martin Trainor)

Animal rights activists and counter-protestors clashed outside of a Burlington slaughterhouse this morning, where earlier this summer an animal rights activist, Regan Russell, was hit by a truck and killed. 

The two groups gathered on either side of the intersection on Harvester Road outside Fearman's Pork Inc. on Thursday, where Toronto Pig Save activists regularly give water to pigs who are in trailers heading into the plant.

Protestors were yelling back and forth, and people went into the streets, either to give the pigs water or to prevent them from doing so. 

Halton Regional Police Services were present to try and keep the two groups apart. 

Hamilton animal rights activist, Regan Russell, 65, was giving water to pigs on the morning of June 19, when she was hit and killed by a truck. A Toronto Pig Save video shows her waiting to give the pigs water moments before she died. 

Police have since charged the 28-year-old driver of a transport truck with careless driving under the Highway Traffic Act.

Halton Regional Police Service has noted that "there were no grounds to indicate that this was an intentional act, or that a criminal offence has been committed." They have not released his name.

Other protesters came out in response to animal activists "bearing witness" and giving water to pigs that arrive in trucks to the slaughterhouse. (Martin Trainor)

A video sent to CBC News from animal activist Jenny McQueen shows counter-protesters walking the crosswalks with a large banner that reads "safety first, do not cross." 

When trucks drove up to enter the slaughterhouse, those with the banner would yell for the activists to get away from the trucks, saying "this driver does not want to stop for you."

Some also held signs with derogatory references to Russell. 

The banner held by those protesting the animal activists says "safety first, do not cross." (Jenny McQueen)

Activists went up to the trucks to "bear witness" and give water to the pigs inside. At one point, the women tried to use their banner to push someone away from blocking the trucks. 

Police told CBC that the protests were "completely peaceful." 

Animal activist Jenny McQueen, who was at the protest with New Wave Activism, said that things got loud and heated. 

"They were shouting in everyone's faces, the police were trying to keep us apart," McQueen said. 

Jenny McQueen said police were at the intersection to keep the two groups apart as people yelled and some pushed the others with their signs. (Martin Trainor)

The family of Russell has called for a coroner's inquest into her death, and the Toronto Pig Save group continue to hold vigils. 

They also held a Justice for Regan rally in downtown Toronto, where they marched from Front Street to Queen's Park in protest of the so-called "ag-gag" Bill 156.

Among its changes, it creates "animal protection zones" that prohibit animal rights activists from "interfering or interacting with the farm animals in the motor vehicle."

With files from Samantha Craggs