I didn’t know her, but her death affected me greatly.
On June 17, 2020, Bill 156, an Ag Gag bill, was passed in Ontario. This law prevents whistleblowers from exposing unethical and illegal practices on farms and was inspired by similar bills that were eventually struck down in many states in the U.S.
Two days later, on June 19th, Regan Russell was killed by a transport truck carrying young pigs to slaughter in front of Fearman’s Pork in Burlington, Ontario. In July of 2020, it was announced that the driver of said truck escaped criminal charges. Instead, the 28-year-old was charged with careless driving causing death
—a mere slap on the wrist, equivalent to driving while distracted.
But that’s not what happened, the truck was stopped for several minutes when he suddenly accelerated into a right turn from the outside left lane while Regan was crossing on a green light. Video surveillance footage shows exactly what happened and others who were in attendance at the vigil on that fateful Friday bore witness to this tragedy. What story did he spin to avoid criminal prosecution? Are Halton Police more sympathetic toward the perpetrator than the victim?
Another animal activist shared that in January 2019 she was nearly run over by a transport truck carrying live pigs at Fearman’s Pork. She had mere seconds to jump out of the way, and, luckily, she managed it in time. However, she recounts that when the police came to the scene after she called them, they showed a complete lack of interest in this attempt on her life, and instead were questioning her about whether she was on private property at the time. The driver was sent on his way without so much as a warning as the activist stood there with physical symptoms of shock while being ignored.
This activist went on to file a complaint with the Office of the Independent Police Review Director, and despite her account, which was supported by security guards and other activists in attendance, her complaint was dismissed. Another attempt was made on her life by a transport truck about a year later, then she watched in horror as Regan was mowed down while standing in the same area. What happened to Regan Russell is far from being an isolated incident.
Regan Russell is a tragic victim of the animal agriculture industry that treats animals as commodities, and police indifference. Had those truck drivers been held accountable in the past, Regan may still be alive today. She wanted to show animals a bit of kindness and try to relieve their suffering before they are sent to their horrific deaths, and for that she paid the ultimate price.
Regan Russell had been a fearless defender of animals since 1977. As her husband Mark Powell recounted, she had a heavy heart the night before she was killed because Bill 156 passed the day before. But she didn’t let that stop her from speaking up for the animals she loved the following day—in fact, she may have been even more committed to inspiring change.