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Animal activists Amy Soranno, Nick Schafer, Roy Sasano and Geoff Regier – known as the Excelsior 4 – faced 21 indictable offences (the highest criminal level in Canadian court), for revealing what happens to animals inside factory farms, namely Excelsior Hog Farm in Abbotsford, BC. Owned and operated by a board member of the BC Pork Producers Association, one would expect that it should be one of the best in the way of cleanliness and animal welfare standards.
In the spring of 2019, video footage taken from inside Excelsior Hog Farm (and released by PETA) showed crowded pens full of thousands of pigs suffering from hernias, bloody lacerations, and golf-ball sized growths. Some couldn’t even walk, so they languished and slowly died on the filthy concrete floor. Dead pigs were found rotting in pens with other live pigs who were eating their dead bodies, and others had been thrown into garbage bins.
On April 28, 2019, the Excelsior 4 and nearly 200 other activists descended on Excelsior Hog Farm, conducting a Meat The Victims demonstration. Approximately 130 activists staged a protest outside of the farm property, while 65 others occupied the farm and live-streamed what they saw. As a result, they generated mass National and International media attention. Amy, Nick and Roy were arrested at this event; however, Amy was the only activist taken into custody and charged.
A few months later, video footage from a hidden camera was released, showing the owners and operators of Excelsior Hog Farm conducting criminal animal cruelty, including electric prodding the pigs in the face, repeatedly hitting and kicking the animals, and cutting off the tails and testicles of screaming piglets with no pain relief.
As a result of the investigation, the other 3 activists – Nick Schafer, Roy Sasano and Geoff Regier – were also charged. The Excelsior 4 faced a combined 21 indictable offences of Break and Enter and Mischief, with each Break and Enter holding the potential of up to 10 years in jail.
In pre-trial hearings, Geoff Regier’s lawyers brought attention to abuse of process by the BCSPCA in handing Geoff, a whistleblower, over to police despite the absence of a warrant and after personally guaranteeing him anonymity as per their informant protection policy. Geoff’s case was stayed, with no reason given by the Crown.
The remaining 3 of The Excelsior 4 went on trial by jury in the BC Supreme Court, and used that opportunity to further expose the rampant violence and suffering in animal agriculture, and the complicity of our justice and enforcement systems. As a result, Roy was acquitted. Amy and Nick were convicted.
During the sentencing hearing, Nick was allowed to give his closing statement and reasoning for what he did, but Amy was stopped by the judge for mentioning what she saw inside the barn, which he deemed “irrelevant”, and so her speech was cut off 3 minutes in.
On today’s show, we hear both of Nick and Amy’s powerful full closing statements. The judge may have censored this in the courtroom, but here on Animal Voices, you can listen to Amy’s full 30 minute closure statement that will be silenced no more.
Learn more about the Excelsior 4’s case and how to help the animals here.
Sows in prison-like stalls had no constant access to water which was automatically and only periodically delivered, piglets crammed into a tiny cage, pigs with tumours the size of volleyballs, many oozing puss, and a child using a scalpel to cut the testicles off a screaming piglet (standard legal practice, but no anaesthetic was used in this case). Piglets’ tails are also cut off with no anaesthesia.