(Originally published in the Naples Daily News, Oct. 30, 2007)
By Wasim Ahmad
There wasn’t a KFC in sight, but that didn’t stop three activists from protesting in front of the Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort on Tuesday for what they said was the restaurant chain’s cruelty to animals.
The trio, Nicole Matthews of Michigan and Orlando residents Ileana Johns and Heather O’Connor, wore only flesh-colored bikini bottoms and covered their upper bodies with a sign protesting KFC. It included the wording “KFC TORTURES CHICKS.”
They were representing People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, more commonly known as PETA.
Their campaign, “The Naked Truth,” is aimed at using shock value to highlight what the group says is inhumane treatment of chickens, and they chose their location because, Matthews said, KFC franchisees were holding a meeting inside.
“This is a fun and creative way to draw attention to the fact that KFC is slitting birds’ throats while they are fully conscious,” Matthews said. “[They’re] scalding them to death in tanks of hot water that are meant to remove their feathers after they are dead.”
KFC officials at the hotel declined comment. However, the company’s corporate office issued a statement.
“KFC is committed to the well-being and humane treatment of chickens and we’re proud of our responsible, industry-leading animal welfare guidelines,” said Rick Maynard, KFC spokesman. “We buy our quality chickens from the same trusted brands that consumers buy in local supermarkets. While we don’t own any poultry facilities, we require all of our suppliers to follow welfare guidelines developed by us with leading experts on our Animal Welfare Advisory Council.”
Car horns honked as motorists drove by, some incredulous at what they were seeing. An equal number gave the women a thumb’s up, and the trio said passers-by were generally supportive.
“If they’re looking for attention and to draw attention to the issue, this is how to do it,” said Dan Harmon, a Marco resident who was riding by on his bicycle.
Tuesday’s demonstration was the second topless PETA protest in Collier County in as many months.
In late September, two PETA workers sporting only panties, shoes and head-to-toe body paint stood near the intersection of U.S. 41 North and Pine Ridge Road, protesting what they claimed were fur sales at the Burberry store in Waterside Shops.
© 2007 Naples Daily News and NDN Productions, Naples, Fla.