For two years, San Francisco activists Andrew Zollman and Alex Felsinger, founders of LGBT Compassion, have been leading vigorous investigations and
protests of live poultry sales at San Francisco’s Heart of the City Farmers Market. Now, they’ve won! As of May 27, 2011, Heart of the
City, the company hired by San Francisco to run the Market, banned live bird vendors from San Francisco’s UN Plaza, also called the Civic Center,
where for nearly two decades these vendors have been selling live chickens, quails and other birds, tied up in grocery bags for customers to take home
and torture and butcher.
Frustrated by the refusal of both Heart of the City and the San Francisco District Attorney’s office to take action against the vendors for their
atrocious animal cruelty and health code violations, LGBT Compassion filed a lawsuit with the California Superior Court against Heart of the City and
Raymond Young Poultry, in January 2011, for the physical assaults and civil rights violations the activists personally experienced at the hands of the
vendors during their peaceful protest demonstrations. The lawsuit got the attention of Heart of the City, and suddenly the ban was announced.
In their May 2 press release about their astonishing victory, LGBT Compassion stated that Raymond Young Poultry had been selling “over 1,000
factory-farmed birds twice weekly,” and estimated that Bullfeathers Quail had “bred and sold at least 350 birds each week at the
market.” The ban will prevent the sale of over 100,000 live birds for food each year, the press release said.
In 2009, United Poultry Concerns joined forces with LGBT Compassion by posting frequent action alerts about the campaign and co-developing an
information brochure, “What’s wrong with live chickens at farmers markets?” This brochure, in
English, was translated into Chinese by UPC Vice President, Liqin Cao.
The San Francisco activists are now focusing their attention on the Richmond, CA farmers market, which they say is the last known Bay Area farmers
market to continue to allow live bird sales. Though the Richmond poultry vendor is currently under investigation by Contra Costa Animal Services for
animal cruelty, the Richmond City Manager’s office has so far refused to enforce the law, but the activists are making progress, notwithstanding.
The Richmond City Manager and live bird vendor “are really freaked out about our protesting there, but the police understand our rights,”
Zollman told UPC, noting that Animal Services seems “very concerned and Health Services has been responsive to our complaints.”
Meanwhile, Raymond Young Poultry has taken to selling birds illegally out of a pickup truck on the streets near UN Plaza. LGBT Compassion is
documenting their law-breaking and presenting it to the police and to the news media, which have covered the activists’ campaign extensively.
More good news. Having ousted the live bird sellers, the San Francisco farmers market’s first new vendor is – a Hummus vendor! Says Zollman
rejoicingly, “They’re replacing animal cruelty and filth with vegan food!” For more information and updates about this campaign and
other efforts against live poultry markets, please visit