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Animal rights group Direct Action Everywhere protests Petaluma egg farm

At least 100 protesters marched Sunday in Petaluma to protest the treatment of chickens, the second demonstration in three months targeting a local egg farm.

Protesters with Bay Area-based animal rights group Direct Action Everywhere walked from Liberty Cemetery to Petaluma Farms on Cavanaugh Lane. No one was arrested, according to Sonoma County sheriff’s officials.

In May, 40 activists with the group were arrested by deputies for trespassing in a similar protest against Sunrise Farms in Petaluma.

Jonathan Mahrt, whose family owns Petaluma Farms, denied all accusations against the company, which supplies Whole Foods Market under brands including Uncle Eddie’s Wild Hen Farm, Judy’s Family Farm and Rock Island. He called the protest “rehashing old allegations” and an attempt to intimidate a small family farm, but had no current plans to pursue legal avenues against the group.

Two owners with Sunrise Farms also denied the protesters’ prior claims of animal neglect in May.

At both demonstrations, participants demanded access to the farms to inspect the chickens, which they claim are kept in inhumane conditions. They cite covert video recordings of farm conditions posted to social media as documentation of alleged mistreatment.

As in May, the group was denied access by farm staff. A sergeant with the Sheriff’s Office exchanged phone numbers with leaders of the protest to set up a meeting to discuss the group’s allegations. The protesters then walked another few miles to the Whole Foods store in Petaluma, where they spoke and chanted outside the entrance, a Direct Action Everywhere spokesman said.

The group will likely return to Sonoma County to protest local egg farms, but has no specific plans at this time, the spokesman said.

You can reach Staff Writer Kevin Fixler at 707-521-5336 or at kevin.fixler@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @kfixler.

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