Protest in Islip
Protesters gather outside the Islip Zoning Board meeting to protest a proposed slaughterhouse in Islip.

IB/Perrotta

Protest in Islip

Story By: ANTHONY PERROTTA
1/10/2019


ISLIP—Over a dozen residents held signs and passed out information outside Islip Town Hall West before this week’s zoning board of appeals meeting, urging officials to deny Joseph Rosario’s application to open a poultry slaughterhouse in an existing building on Beaver Dam Road. 

Long Island Orchestrating for Nature co-organized the event, along with Brooklyn-Queens Animal Save, which has been protesting the applicant’s existing slaughterhouse in Jamaica, Queens and speaking with disgruntled residents in that community. Brooklyn-Queens Animal Save has promised to take their protests to Islip, should Rosario’s application be approved, according to John Di Leonardo, LION’s founder and president. 

Di Leonardo previously spoke out against the proposed slaughterhouse during a zoning board meeting this past October, which was attended by about 300 people opposed to the application. This publication covered that event in the article “Slaughterhouse protest,” which was published on Oct. 25, 2018. 

“It’s 2019. We don’t need more slaughterhouses,” Di Leonardo said, referencing the growing number of vegans. 

Even though the proposed slaughterhouse wasn’t on the zoning board’s agenda this week, Di Leonardo said it was important to have some type of opposing presence to let officials know the issue “isn’t going away.” He continued by saying that it’s been nearly three months since the meeting where residents, in his view, made it clear they are opposed to the project. “There’s no reason [the slaughterhouse] hasn’t been denied already,” he said. 

A common defense of local slaughterhouses, such as this one, is that they cut down on the different stages of livestock transportation, which lessens the negative environmental impact. But, according to Di Leonardo, there’s “nothing local about it,” being that the animals will likely be brought in from out of state. The only thing local, he said, is the debris and odor that will inevitably come from the facility. 

Gabrielle Luongo, LION’s manager of operations, wrote a letter to Islip Town’s zoning board shortly after the proposed slaughterhouse made local headlines. 

In the letter, which LION shared with this publication, Luongo pointed to Rosario’s claim that his proposed slaughterhouse would be “contained,” meaning that there would be no odor, sounds or filth coming from the facility. 

But, upon visiting the applicant’s existing slaughterhouse in Queens, the LION representative said she discovered blood, feathers and feces on the sidewalk outside the building. “As soon as I walked into the slaughterhouse, there were a few dozen cages stuffed with chickens and turkeys, stacked on top of each other and alongside each other,” Luongo wrote. “As you could imagine, the inside of the business was covered in feces and feathers and the vile smell was amplified. The entire place was very unsanitary.” 

“While [Rosario] can claim to be able to contain the business’ mess in regards to the discarded waste products of the poultry [the heads, feet, crop, neck, guts, etc.], there is no way to contain the mess caused by poultry in an industrial setting,” she continued. “They are in fact animals who flap their wings and lose feathers fairly easily, who involuntarily use the bathroom constantly throughout the day, and who carry with them the undeniable odor, and sometimes contagion.” 

An Islip resident, who teaches in one of the local school districts and didn’t wish to be named, said she opposes the slaughterhouse for ethical reasons. She described herself as “80 percent vegan” for over 20 years and “100 percent vegetarian.” She also said her uncle, a lifelong Islip resident, lives down the road from the facility. 

An Islip couple, Eddie and Shannon Bubak, both of whom are vegans, live down the road from the facility and oppose the application. 

Eddie Bubak said the ethical reasons alone should be enough to stop the slaughterhouse, but added that even residents who eat meat should oppose the application due to the negative environmental impacts the facility would bring. 

“I’m opposed to [slaughterhouses] everywhere, but I never expected to have one in my backyard,” Shannon Bubak said, adding that slaughterhouses tend to have negative impacts on the communities in which they are located in, such as increased crime rates and domestic abuse. “We don’t want to be the neighborhood with the slaughterhouse.” 

Not everyone who attended the event was a local resident. 

Jessica Chiarello, a vegan who lives in Lake Grove, said she visited Rosario’s facility in Queens. Chiarello confirmed LION’s claims that various animal parts could be seen outside the building. “It wasn’t an undercover investigation,” she said. “You could clearly see everything outside and hear [the animals] being killed inside.” 

Chiarello, like many who gathered outside Town Hall West, opposes all slaughterhouses, not just the one being proposed in Islip. She implied that, should the proposal be denied, it could enable local residents who oppose the slaughterhouse but still eat meat to put the thought of what goes on inside similar facilities “out of their minds.” 

A Huntington resident named Lucas, who didn’t wish to give his last name, also participated in the gathering. He has been a vegan for over three years and a vegetarian for much longer. He said the decision to bring a slaughterhouse into a given community shouldn’t be made lightly. “It changes us morally to have a place [in the neighborhood] where animals are slaughtered,” Lucas said, adding that in the past, he has lived in communities where slaughterhouses became a “fixture of the community.”