The morning of the 7th of December brought with it news of a horrific accident. Whilst the Surge team were preparing for a day at the University of West England, they were informed that a vehicle carrying hundreds of turkeys had overturned on a road near Worcester, an hour away from where they were.
At the scene they witnessed the brutal reality of something that can only happen in a system that commodifies and objectifies sentient beings. The trailer that had been transporting the turkeys to their unnecessary deaths lay on its side, its wooden structure rotting and seemingly to have been in a bad condition even before the accident had taken place.
Crates were sprawled across the side of the road along alongside the remains of the dead and injured turkeys, their blood and feathers covering the ground.
Attempts were made to cover up what was happening at the scene with the so-called ‘rescue team’ precariously stacking crates up in front of us and other activists who had arrived determined to film and help the injured animals. These attempts failed. Footage shared on social media shows turkeys being dragged roughly from crates and yanked up by their feet and wings.
Some firefighters seemed sympathetic to the requests of the activists but the farmers who were moving the turkeys were not, and directed verbal abuse towards them. Sympathetic or not however, the situation all present found themselves in seemed to epitomise the duality of morality found when living in a society that claims to love animals whilst also killing them. The look of shock on one firefighters face, when he realised he was covered in the blood of the turkeys, said it all.
A vet was at the accident site but his presence did nothing to aid the injured turkeys, most of whom were forced onto another truck bound for slaughter despite their obvious pain and open wounds. His concern was predominantly with clearing up the site as quickly as possible, seemingly with a complete disregard for the lives of these animals. There was a cruel irony in the fact that he left the clean up to check up on the dog in the back of his car.
Activists tried to help the birds by attempting to reason with the people there, but this was ignored by people who were fixated on the bloody and barbaric job in front of them. During the conversations, one dedicated Surge activist, Katie, felt compelled to shield a turkey from the brutality of what was happening. She crouched down hugging one, creating some safety there amidst the chaos of the scene, whilst the workers closed in and the other activists stood infront of her to protect them both from any potential attempts by disgruntled police to grab her or the turkey.
After it became clear that Katie was not going to stop cradling the turkey, the person in charge of the turkeys being transported relinquished his ownership of him with no further comment. The activists there were able to then transport the turkey to a sanctuary where he will be able to now live out the remainder of his life in peace and safety around other rescued animals.
‘Asha’, as he was named - meaning Hope – will now be safe this Christmas. Many more turkeys, however, will not be safe and will suffer at the hands of humans in the name of a holiday that is meant to represent love and giving. It seems until the day comes when people share a vegan Christmas, the holiday will represent the morals we may have but the contradictory actions of violence we in fact put into place.
Yet still, Hope/Asha remains.
Peter Keighley for Surge