There Was a Killing

On the morning of June 19th 2020, seven activists from the love-based animal rights group Toronto Pig Save were demonstrating outside Sofina Foods’ Fearmans slaughterhouse in Burlington, Ontario. What began as a peaceful vigil (giving water to pigs and offering them comfort moments before their death) and protest against “ag-gag” Bill 156 soon ended in horror for vegan activist Regan Russell.

It was a little after 10am as another truck carrying pigs appeared on the horizon, but something was off. Though the truck would be turning right onto a service road, the driver remained in the left lane, not moving, holding up traffic for several light-cycles. Russell, waiting at the crosswalk on the far side of the service road, eventually decided to join her companions. Suddenly, the truck lurched forward and the other activists heard a terrifying scream, but the driver kept going until security guards waved him down. By then, 65-year old Regan Russell, a decades-long pioneer in Canadian animal rights activism had been dragged more than the entire length of the truck, and she was dead.

No criminal charges were brought against the driver due to the passing of Bill 156 just one day before, a statute designed to protect transporters from animal rights activists.

Dubbed an ag-gag, Bill 156 is an undemocratic and unconstitutional piece of legislation that allows force to be used against protesters. It also infringes on the right to assemble and criminalizes activists and whistleblowers working to expose violence against animals on farms, at slaughterhouses, and in transport trucks.

Directed by award-winning filmmaker Shaun Monson (Earthlings, Unity), and featuring never-before-seen footage, There Was a Killing provides first-hand accounts and in-depth analysis from attorneys Robert Monson, Lisa Bloom, and David Simon exposing corruption and a cover-up that has allowed the animal agriculture industry to avoid the legal and economic consequences of their behavior through a law some may see as a license to kill.

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