It is with profound sorrow that United Poultry Concerns announces the untimely death of Virgil Butler. Virgil died during the night in his car in front of his home where he lived with his partner, Laura Alexander.
Virgil was a Tyson chicken slaughterhouse worker turned activist. In testimony given through PETA in January 2003, Virgil Butler documented the horrific treatment of chickens that he witnessed every night while working at the Tyson chicken slaughterhouse in Grannis, Arkansas from 1997 to 2002. He changed his life completely, speaking out boldly on behalf of chickens and against the terrible abuse they suffer, at considerable risk to himself in a region dominated by Tyson Foods.
In 2002, Virgil was a keynote speaker at UPC’s Forum in Norfolk, Va. where he spoke brilliantly and unforgettably about “Inside Tyson’s Hell: Why I Got Out of the Chicken Slaughtering Business.” (Virgil’s VHS presentation can be ordered by going to http://www.upc-online.org/fall04/videos.htm.)
Virgil’s detailed account of what goes on inside chicken slaughter plants has been an indispensable contribution to animal advocacy organizations working to reduce the suffering of chickens and promote a compassionate lifestyle.
United Poultry Concerns will publish a Memorial to Virgil who with Laura Alexander, his partner and Good Angel, is featured in a front-page interview “Slaughterhouse Worker Turned Activist” in the Fall 2004 issue of Poultry Press (http://www.upc-online.org/fall04/virgil.htm).
Of their committed lives, Virgil and Laura wrote, “We are a team. We do everything together. We changed our diet. We justcouldn’t look at a piece of meat anymore without seeing the sad, tortured face that was attached to it some time in the past.”
Laura told UPC today that Virgil was himself “a very tormented man. He could not find peace on this planet.”