Truckers face death threats following animal activist's death
BRUSSELS, ONT. -- The 'No Trespassing' signs went up shortly after the online threats by animal advocates began against Brussels Transport.
“They threatened to blow up trucks. They threatened to sabotage trucks. They threatened to burn the slaughterhouse down,” says Tyler Jutzi, whose family runs Brussels Transport.
The fury of animal activists is centered on the Huron County-based trucking company, because one of its livestock drivers was behind the wheel of a rig that killed Regan Russell, as she protested with Toronto Pig Save outside a pork processing facility in Burlington on June 19.
Although Halton police say no criminal offence was committed, the 28-year-old truck driver was charged with careless driving causing death.
“[Activists] put a bounty out on the driver, offering rewards for information about his name and whereabouts. This is terrifying, that someone might try to come to his home, to harm him or his family, over an accident,” says Jutzi.
Russell’s fellow protestors, who picket outside the processing facility by encircling the livestock trucks and trying to bring water to the pigs, call the charge ridiculous.
“This is unheard of, a 65-year-old woman, killed while peacefully protesting,” says Anita Kranj, of the Animal Save Movement.
Activists are demanding a Coroner's inquest into the incident and are raising funds to carry on Russell's legacy.
Jutzi says he blames Halton police for allowing the protests, which he calls dangerous, to continue. They are held three days a week outside the plant.
“To legally protest you are not allowed to block traffic. You are not allowed to impede transportation, and you definitely are not allowed to harass truck drivers in their workplace. But that’s what’s going on in front of the plant, and the Halton police watch it happen,” says Jutzi.
Jutzi hopes Bill 156, the Protecting Food Safety Act, will empower the police to protect both protestors and his truckers.
In the meantime, Jutzi has raised over $80,000 in just three days to help fund his charged trucker's legal defence.
“This is a huge problem, and it’s an industry problem, that requires the entire industry to fight it,” he says.
Jutzi says Brussels Transport has been in touch with the Huron County OPP, as they potentially brace for more blowback from the animal activist community.
Click here for more information on the Brussels truckers defence fund.