Animal rights organization condemns traffic act charge in Ont. fatal crash that killed activist
Police investigate after an animal activist was hit by a truck outside a slaughterhouse in Burlington, Ont. (Andrew Collins)
TORONTO -- An animal rights organization is condemning police for charging a driver involved in a Burlington, Ont. collision that left a longtime activist dead with a traffic act offence, calling the charge “feeble.”
Regan Russell, a member of Toronto Pig Save, was protesting outside a processing plant, Fearman's Pork, when she was struck by a transport truck in mid-June.
The 65-year-old was pronounced dead at the scene.
On Monday, Halton Regional Police said that a 28-year-old driver had been charged with careless driving causing death under the Highway Traffic Act in connection with the incident.
“This investigation included the interview of several witnesses, analysis of physical evidence, and a technical reconstruction of the collision. In addition, video footage that captured the entirety of the incident was reviewed by investigators,” police said in a news release.
“There were no grounds to indicate this was an intentional act, or that a criminal offence had been committed.”
Nita Krajnc, the co-founder of Animal Save Movement, said in a statement that the charges are “feeble and do not amount to justice for Regan.”
She also called for police to release video footage of the incident to the public.
“Enough is enough – how many more lives will be lost at the hands of Sofina and Fearmans before they agree to a safety policy? They’ve rejected these calls far too long and have Regan’s blood on their hands – we will not rest until Bill 156 is repealed.”
Krajnc makes reference to provincial legislation that has raised fines for trespassing on farms and food-processing facilities. The bill also makes it illegal to obstruct trucks carrying farm animals.
Animal Save Movement is demanding the repeal of Bill 156 and is asking the Ontario government to replace it with a “Regan Bill of Animal Rights” that would protect the rights of protesters.
Toronto Pig Save holds regular “vigils” outside facilities like Fearman’s Pork and activists will often feed water to pigs as they are taken to the slaughterhouse.
Russell's family released a statement late Monday saying that the "lax charge" in the incident has been difficult to process.
“Grief is now compounded by anger, frustration, and confusion," Joshua Powell, Russell's stepson, said. "We will be taking the time we need to reflect on this information. Our family is committed to revealing the truth in Regan’s death, and will be pursuing all avenues before us that work to that end.”
Powell also said that on Tuesday, activists will hold a rally outside the Halton police station to protest the fact that no criminal charges were filed.