Animal welfare activists protest at Sonoma County Jail, courthouse

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Animal welfare activists gathered in front of the Sonoma County Jail on Tuesday, protesting the arrest of about 80 people who demonstrated a day earlier at a west Petaluma duck farm.

Tuesday’s action drew about 50 members of Direct Action Everywhere. The group organized the protest at Reichardt Duck Farm that included at least 300 demonstrators and prompted a response of more than 50 local and state law enforcement officers.

Monday’s arrests mostly involved suspected trespassing and felony conspiring to commit a crime, Sonoma County Sheriff’s spokesman Spencer Crum said. Protesters were given the option to be cited out of jail, though many refused to sign the citation form, he said.

“We’re calling upon Sonoma County authorities to prosecute criminal animal cruelty, not the whistleblowers,” said Cassie King, who took part in both protests.

The doors to the county’s main jail were locked Tuesday morning, and signs indicated no visits would be allowed for the day. Jail officials decided to turn away visitors as a result of the protest, Crum said.

Protesters left behind on the doors sticky notes with messages such as “Stop harming all animals.” One person held a photograph of an injured duck lying on a wire platform, said to have been taken at the Petaluma farm — not associated with Jim Reichardt of Sonoma County Poultry, which produces Liberty Ducks for high-end Bay Area restaurants.

The group later moved into the Superior Court building next to the jail and gathered in front of the offices of Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch.

Four people were allowed in, two at a time, to ask for meetings with the county’s top prosecutor.

They were told no meeting times were available and were asked to call or email to set up an appointment, said Suzannah Smith, who also attended the Monday gathering. The group previously attempted to meet with Ravitch but was unsuccessful, Smith said.

“This is a public servant who is refusing to talk to us,” Smith said.

The District Attorney’s did not return a request for comment Tuesday.

You can reach Staff Writer Nashelly Chavez at 707‑521‑5203 or nashelly.chavez@pressdemocrat.com.

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