PINELLAS PARK, Fla. (WFLA) – Real-looking knives, splattered fake blood and screaming kids. It’s not the kind of scene Chick-fil-A envisioned when they kicked off “Cow Appreciation Day.”
But, that’s what happened when protesters stormed the Pinellas Park restaurant during the lunch rush. The restaurant offered free food to people dressed like a cow.
An animal rights organization picked the spot to make its point. In front of dozens of startled customers, including many kids, they staged a loud protest.
Videos from cell phones show, at first, customers laughing as protesters entered the Chick-fil-A on 34th Street.
Smiles turned to anger as they realized fake blood covered people in cow and chicken costumes and one person carried a huge knife.
“People running in with knives, bleeding. Like bleeding on their shirts and just bloody knives. It scared the kids,” said Nichole Kretchmar.
Some parents shielded kids from the gory protest, but plenty watched.
“That’s sad, because a lot of the kids are an age where they can’t tell the difference between what’s real and fake. So, I believe everybody has a right to say what they believe in and what they feel is right. But, I also believe they took it too far,” said Tina Leacock.
The protesters are from Direct Action Everywhere Pinellas. It opposes eating meat or anything else from animals.
“People might be upset, but I think that putting it out on the table and showing people, like this is the reality of where the animals are coming from and how bad the animals are suffering,” said spokeswoman Kayla Leaming.
The cell phone video shows others shouting and some protesters falling on the floor.
“They came in slicing each other’s throats, putting each other on their knees, dropping them onto the floor in front of a bunch of children,” said Crystal Valle-Najar.
Chick-fil-A employees pleaded with the protesters to leave. They did, before cops arrived.
The protest spokesperson is calling the Chick-fil-A event a success, saying more people are talking about “veganism.”
Some parents would disagree, saying this group ruined their free meal in a cow outfit.