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Whole Foods Takes Legal Action Against Berkeley Animal Rights Group

BERKELEY (KPIX) -- The Whole Foods grocery store chain is trying to turn the tables on animal rights protesters. Fed up with store take-overs, they are taking one East Bay group to court.

Animal rights activists from the Berkeley-based group Direct Action Everywhere or DxE have been targeting Whole Foods for several years now.

DxE alleges whole foods sources from farms that exercise animal cruelty.

Demonstrations run the gamut from chicken funerals to sit-ins where they bring in cow crates to the activists interrupting a recent ribbon cutting at a Whole Foods in Silicon Valley.

This week, Whole Foods fought back and a judge sided with them, issuing a restraining order against DxE for its Berkeley store.

"It's interesting that Whole Foods tries to paint us as a danger to the public, when we believe what we're doing is actually a public good," said Direct Action Everywhere member Cassie King.

The group is provocative on purpose. Getting arrested has become commonplace because it means media attention. King is one of dozens of members racking up a criminal record.

"I have been arrested before for rescuing animals from certain death…a couple of times," said King.

Whole Foods issued a statement on the group that read in part, "DxE members have repeatedly entered our stores and property to conduct demonstrations that disrupt customers and team members by blocking access to our aisles, departments, and cash registers, interfering with our business and putting the safety of both customers and team members at risk."

The injunction comes on the cusp of a week-long protest planned at the Berkeley Whole Foods store. On Friday, KPIX 5 saw organizers continuing to paint banners for the week ahead. They say that -- despite the restraining order – they plan to show up anyway.

"In terms of breaking the law, we see it as establishing the right to rescue and the right to know for every customer who wants to shop at Whole Foods to actually know what's happening to these animals," said King.

Initially, Whole Foods sought to permanently ban DxE from all of its stores statewide. The company has the option to ask the judge for that again on October 26th.

Meanwhile, DxE still plans to protest outside the Berkeley Whole Foods from Sunday through Saturday next week.

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