Protester tosses pie at Frank Perdue Animal-rights activists disrupt regents' meeting.

February 28, 1992|By Lou Ferrara | Lou Ferrara,Special to the Sun

An animal rights activist in a full-body, yellow-feathered chicken suit shoved a cream pie in the face of poultry magnate Frank Perdue today during a wild demonstration at a University of Maryland Board of Regents meeting in Baltimore.

After a 10-minute chase around the University of Baltimore campus, police finally cornered the chicken impersonator and hauled her off to the Central District lockup, along with three other activists who interrupted the regents' meeting.

"Idiots are idiots, and that's all," said an upset Mr. Perdue after he had cleaned up and the meeting had resumed.

Robin Walker, 26, a member of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals who took part in the protest, said, "Perhaps public humiliation will make Frank Perdue think about what he does to all the chickens he kills each year."

Mr. Perdue, 72, is a member of the Board of Regents. His Eastern Shore-based firm is the fourth largest producer of poultry in the country. He is frequently shadowed by animal rights activists when he attends regents meetings.

Mr. Perdue said this was the worst confrontation he has faced, but vowed to continue his work on the board.

The incident occurred at 11:45 a.m. during an otherwise routine meeting of the university's overseers, who were seated on the stage of the University of Baltimore's Moot Courtroom. UB is is part of the University of Maryland system.

Eight activists in the audience of 50 suddenly jumped up and began shouting, "Cluck you, Frank Perdue!"

Five university police officers immediately began removing the activists from the room. Two were carried out when they refused to move on their own.

While police were diverted, a woman in a chicken outfit appeared from backstage, ran up to Mr. Perdue and shoved a cream pie in his face.

The chicken impersonator then exited stage right and ran out a door into an alley next to the building, with two officers in pursuit. They caught up with her about 10 minutes later at North Charles and Oliver streets.

"I did it in protest for the millions of chickens Frank Perdue killed," the costumed woman said as police led her away.

Kay A. Windsor, the University of Baltimore police chief, said it appeared that the protester had changed into the costume in a restroom, and then somehow "jimmied open" the back doors to the stage.

Police did not immediately identify the four women they arrested. Chief Windsor said the pie-wielder would be charged with assault and disorderly conduct, the three others with disorderly conduct only.

The regents adjourned their regular monthly meeting for a half-hour to give Mr. Perdue a chance to clean up and then resumed consideration of a proposal to eliminate free tuition for non-teaching university employees.

None of the regents other than Mr. Perdue had any immediate comment.

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