By Patrick Donachie
Candles dotted the curb outside of the Aziz Slaughterhouse in Jamaica in the evening hours last week as about three dozen animal-rights advocates stood in silent vigil holding placards, many emblazoned with the photo of a bull that died in police custody after bolting from the abattoir.
The bull had escaped the slaughterhouse a day before and led police on a frenzied chase through the streets of southeast Queens. After numerous attempts at capture and several shots of tranquilizer darts, NYPD officers got the bull into a transport for a trip to a Brooklyn Animal Care Center facility, but he died en route.
The Feb. 22 vigil was organized by Vegans of New York, an online collective of vegans and animal-rights activists. Spokeswoman Jill Carnegie said many VoNY members were thrilled with the bull’s escape from captivity, catalogued by extensive local television coverage and on social media. But she stressed how important it was to understand the motivation behind the bull’s run.
“I hope they recognize the empathy,” she said about those who had watched the event unfold via Twitter and other platforms. “He was running for his life.”
The bull is the second to escape from the Aziz Slaughterhouse, located at 151-24 Beaver Road, since the beginning of 2016. The slaughterhouse has been located in the industrial area a few blocks south of the bustling downtown Jamaica corridor since 2010.
In 2012, the state Legislature barred any new slaughterhouses from being developed within 1,500 feet of a “residential dwelling” in New York City, but that did not address the already established slaughterhouses.
Kristin Munster, a Long Island resident originally from Forest Hills, made the evening trip to remember the bull and draw attention to the increased availability of vegetarian and vegan options.
“There’s no need for this to exist in 2017 when alternatives are available,” she said, pointing out the stench coming from the slaughterhouse. “The average man could not stomach walking through a slaughterhouse.”
Heather Greenhouse, a VoNY member who helped organize the vigil, said this was the first time she had worked on putting together such an event. She had been vegetarian for 13 years, and became vegan four years ago after visiting an animal sanctuary upstate.
“I’m so amazed and so touched that so many people came,” she said. “I hope his bravery and his life and death make it easier for people to make the connection on their plates.”
Carnegie agreed with Greenhouse, saying there was a clear message for anyone who had followed the bull’s escapades the day before.
“The message to the public is: If you were rooting for this bull, you’re rooting for all of them,” she said.
Reach reporter Patrick Donachie by e-mail at pdona