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Two animal rights activists briefly interrupted the Buffalo Bills’ shellacking of the Los Angeles Rams on Thursday night in the first game of the NFL season.
The women, identified as Emek Echo and Katia Shokrai with Direct Action Everywhere, ran across SoFi Stadium holding up smoke flares. The group said the women sought to highlight the upcoming Smithfield Foods factory farm whistleblowers trial.
The women were tackled by security guards and one of them lost their flare in the midst of the chaotic situation. Bills quarterback Josh Allen tossed the flare all the way into the end zone and it was picked up by a security guard.
The incident stopped the game as the smoke cleared. The Bills would knock off the defending Super Bowl champions 31-10.
Direct Action Everywhere said in a press release two of its investigators, Paul Darwin Picklesimer and Wayne Hsiung were charged with multiple felonies for “rescuing” piglets from Circle Four Farms which is owned by Smithfield Foods. The incident occurred in 2017.
“Smithfield, like the animal agriculture industry itself, is a barbaric house of cards — built on unconscionable, systemic abuse, and desperate attempts to shield that abuse from the public eye,” Shokrai said in a news release. “I want the world to know that animal rescuers are facing years in prison because of this company’s undue influence on our democracy.”
According to the Salt Lake Tribune, five activists were charged in the incident. While three took plea deals, Picklesimer and Hsiung were charged with two third-degree felonies of burglary and a class B misdemeanor count of theft.
The trial is set for early October.
Direct Action Everywhere was also responsible for protests that took place during Minnesota Timberwolves games earlier this year.