BERKELEY, CA — Local plants rights activist group Stop Eating Root Vegetables (SERV) faces significant backlash from the UC Berkeley community after staging a loud, distressing protest on Sproul Plaza.
From approximately 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., over 20 SERV activists blocked Sather Gate, giving speeches and holding signs with slogans like “Harvest Is Murder,” “Love Your Roots, Stop Eating Carrots,” and “Corn: America’s Most Exploited Worker.” As they did this, they stood behind an elaborate display of several mutilated mannequins, which were lined up in a row of dirt as though violently ripped out of the earth.
Further compounding the protest’s distressing nature, SERV set up multiple massive speakers, which played what they described as the sounds of carrots and corn husks being pulled out of the ground. These sounds played non stop throughout the protest at such high volume that students reported hearing them from as far away as California Hall.
“It was disgusting!” said Jennifer Carlson, a third-year student who walked by the protest on her way to class. “I understand trying to shock people and get attention, but there’s that, and then there’s assaulting everyone with noise and putting dead bodies with their legs ripped off right in the middle of Sproul. Whoever came up with that needs to see a therapist.”
When asked which of member of SERV had come up with the display, Jason Myers, the group’s President, took credit for the idea.
“Our protest reflects the reality that millions of innocent plants around the world face every day,” said Myers, “Who gave humans the right to treat living things as our slaves, to decide when their lives begin and end, to alter their very DNA according to our whims? It’s insane. The only way to make people understand how monstrous these actions are is to shock them into seeing the world through a carrot’s eyes.”
Myers also strongly disagreed with accusations that the use of bloody mannequins was in bad taste.
“If you take another person, kill them, chop them to pieces, and consume their flesh, people call it ‘sick’ and ‘disgusting’ and ‘murder.’ But if you do the same exact thing to an ear of corn, nobody says anything. We’re so desensitized to the suffering we inflict that we don’t think twice but point it out to people and they act like you’re the crazy one.”
Shortly after the event, animal rights network Direct Action Everywhere, or DxE, condemned SERV in a press release, calling the protest “a blatant appropriation of [DxE’s] tactics” and “an affront to the work of animal rights activists everywhere.” SERV has yet to respond.