TransLink Transit Police in Vancouver have ticketed an animal advocate for spreading awareness of animal cruelty by showing farm and slaughterhouse footage to passersby on the street.
Geoff Rigear is a former undercover investigator on Canadian farms who now runs TV Outreach for Animals. Mr. Rigear sets up a 42-inch television screen on busy streets in Vancouver, and plays video footage exposing brutal conditions inside modern farms and slaughterhouses. He hands out leaflets and speaks with pedestrians about veganism to inspire personal dietary change and help save farmed animals from unimaginable suffering.
Mr. Rigear was recently approached by several transit police officers while doing outreach near a transit station. According to a letter filed by a lawyer for Mr. Rigear, the conduct of the officers was “extremely disturbing”. They rudely accused him of enjoying the slaughterhouse video, then told him repeatedly that they did not like his footage. Disturbingly, one officer suggested that he should “just smash [the] TV”.
The officers then had a lengthy discussion about how they could charge Mr. Rigear, and which laws they could accuse him of violating. They eventually issued him a ticket for soliciting transit users. However, the law is clear that soliciting requires an attempt to get money or other items of value from a person. Mr. Rigear was not asking for money—he was distributing information, and engaged in his constitutional right to express his views on animal cruelty, which is an important topic of intense public and social interest.
Animal Justice is concerned by this apparent attempt by TransLink Transit Police to target an animal advocate for his views. Animals have no rights of their own, which is why we regularly fight to protect the rights of advocates like Mr. Rigear who are targeted by law enforcement while engaged in lawful activities.
We will continue to monitor this case as it proceeds through the court system.
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