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Students protest KFC in Fayetteville

By Hannah Simpson
Around the Town Editor

Senior Laura Warwick, sophomore Jordan Sullivan and freshman Vincent Stephens pulled across the street from the KFC in Fayetteville on April 6 to participate in the monthly protest against the KFC Corporation.

Warwick quickly claimed the chicken suit, a job which has been dubbed her “calling,” due to her dramatic acting while in the costume.

Stephens pulls an all black robe and face mask from the back of a trunk: he is dressed as death and stands besides the feathery Warwick, both holding signs which ask passersby to not eat at KFC.

“Don’t eat me; I want to live,” Warwick screams through a rubber beak. She holds up a peace symbol with her fingers to the passing cars. “Chicken peace,” she yells.

Stephens echoes her words, waving his “KFC Tortures Chickens” sign up and down.

Their actions cause other protestors to watch in amusement. Sullivan remarks that it’s funny to watch them work, despite the seriousness of the cause.

“You’ve got to get attention,” Warwick said. “So, you’ve gotta be crazy.”

The protest targets the inhumane ways the KFC Corporation treats and kills the chickens, Warwick said.

Anne Ashford of Fayetteville has participated in the protest several times, even herself donning the chicken costume.

“[Protesting] is just a drop in the bucket,” she said. “I don’t want to make people unhappy [when they come to eat], but the alternative is that things don’t change.”

A story by the Associated Press in 2007 and posted on several news websites, including USA Today’s, released information about a company that supplied chicken for KFC with “employees ripping birds’ beaks off, spray painting their faces, twisting their heads off, spitting tobacco into their mouths and eyes, and breaking them in half — all while the birds are still alive.”’

All we ask is that they are treated humanely, Ashford said.

“There is such a disconnect between the slaughtering...and what is on your plate,” said one female protestor from Fayetteville. She said she protests because she needed to “align my lifestyle with my principles.”

The protestor said the customers and passersby are normally nice, although there are a few who ask questions just to debate and cause confrontation.

Cars honk as they pass and the protestors “boo” each time a car signals it is turning into the KFC parking lot.

Inside, the manager and employees say the business slightly picks up on the protesting days.

“It brings us good customers,” KFC employee Kimberly, 23, said. “We don’t really like the fact they’re out there protesting, [but] people stop to see why.”

Manager Norma Parsons agreed, stating that the regular customers sometimes get annoyed, but many come and ask about the students with signs. Some think that it is an advertisement for KFC, she said.

As if countering Parsons words, Warwick plays dead on the sidewalk, arms outstretched, while Stephens stands above her waving his sign at the cars.

Her antics cause two men to stop in the middle lane and get out their camera phones for a laugh and a quick picture.

“We don’t really care that it increases [customers] on [the day of the protest],” Sullivan said. “We just put the website and the idea out there.”

KFC employee Robyn, 18, said everybody has their cause, but the protest isn’t helping in the long run.

“I believe that five people standing in front of the restaurant won’t do much good,” she said.

Sullivan disagrees, recalling their best protesting moment three months ago, when one of the cooks at the KFC noticed the students protesting and researched the matter on his own. Not long after, he confronted his manager and ended up leaving his job.

Sullivan said he left smiling, waving his last paycheck out the window of his car window and promising that he would return to help protest.

Not everyone is eager to research or listen, as the protestors found out that day.

One KFC customer yelled at the protestors to “go into the neighborhoods and protest the drug dealers. Do some good.”
Several moments later, a car sped from a parking lot across the street; an older man stuck his head out from the back seat and screamed “Don’t torture chickens, torture N[egroes]!”

The protestors stood in shock for a moment, before Warwick woke from her fake death and remarked that she had never heard anything so hateful in her four years of protesting KFC.

Stephens, the only black protestor at the site, stated nothing more than that he was “heated” at the moment. The protestors continued to speak about the incident until their allotted one hour for protesting was complete.

“I think people need to learn to respect protestors,” Sullivan said.

Stephens said, despite the remarks, he will continue to protest, because it’s “a good cause.”

The group, hoping to soon begin the organization SOFAR- Student Organization For Animal Rights- also protested when the Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Circus arrived in Fayetteville. They also hope to hold at least one protest at the KFC across from UNCP before the semester is over.

Warwick said she first became involved in protests when she was 18 years old. As a member of the PETA Street Team, she received an email about activity in the Pembroke area and found out about the protest in Fayetteville. Stephens is also a member of the PETA Street Team, but Sullivan said she prefers not to associate herself with PETA “because of all the stygma’s that come with the name.”

The protest in Fayetteville is conducted the first Saturday of each month.

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Updated: Saturday, April 12, 2008
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