Protesters abhor industry mode

The Associated Press

BRIGHTLINGSEA, England Dressed in a track suit and parka, Anita Smith was ready to do her part to block trucks carrying veal calves to this eastern port city.

''Before this, I was never involved, I was just a frustrated housewife,'' said Smith, 27, one of a new and effective breed of animal-rights crusaders. ''We know our rights now, we're prepared for arrest.''

It is an increasingly familiar scene across Britain and one that has police and politicians baffled.

Protesters are angry that the sheep and cattle are forced to remain in cramped spaces for up to 48 hours on their way to the Continent.

They want the animals slaughtered humanely in Britain and the meat exported. They object to the practice of confining the calves in small crates to create pale veal.

Tuesday's funeral of activist Jill Phipps, who 10 days ago fell under the wheels of a truck carrying calves to Coventry airport, drew thousands of mourners to the town's cathedral. They included actress Brigitte Bardot, a noted animal-rights campaigner.

''She was a fantastic girl and she had a lot of courage for animals. And I am not very proud of my country,'' Bardot said, referring to the French taste for crate-raised veal.

When protests first started in Brightlingsea last month, the authorities were ill-prepared, sending in police with truncheons and riot gear.

''I was knocked over by a policeman,'' said an incredulous Tilly Millet, 78. ''I come from the rough, east end of London and nothing like this ever happened there.''

Police since have been briefed on gentler methods, said Essex County police spokeswoman Kim White.

''We were criticized for wearing helmets and NATO-style gear,'' she said. Nonetheless, the police were relying on intelligence reports to weed out the more radical protesters, White said.

One policeman armed with a video camera positioned himself atop a police van to capture on tape the more violent protesters, such as a couple of young men urging the crowd to push against the policemen.

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