PETALUMA (KPIX 5) — Hundreds of animal activists swarmed a North Bay farm Tuesday afternoon in a dramatic confrontation that led to dozens of arrests.

With the Tuesday protest, the activists were trying to free birds from an egg farm in Petaluma.

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It was about as peaceful as a mass arrest can get.

Forty activists from Direct Action Everywhere, an animal rights organization, held flowers and sang songs as they volunteered to be placed in handcuffs and charged with misdemeanor trespassing.

“We tried everything in our power to negotiate with them. But there were 40 people who were determined to elevate their cause and voluntarily get arrested,” said Sonoma County Sheriff Sgt. Spencer Crum.

“We’d like this to be a national discussion. Like, President Trump how do you feel about this issue?” said Direct Action Everywhere activist Paul Picklesimer

A wall of protesters walked out of Cal Eggs Farm in Petaluma, carrying chickens they believe are being mistreated.

Members of Direct Action Everywhere, or DxE, as they are sometime referred to believe they have the legal right to do this.

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It’s an argument they’ve made after more than a dozen arrests to date. It’s an argument that has worked, as all previous California charges against them have been dropped.

Farmers KPIX spoke with disagree.

“It’s bull crap,” said Petaluma resident Phil Brooks, who lives nearby and works in the industry. He said Cal Eggs farmers are close personal friends of his.

“I understand what they’re trying to do, but they don’t have the right to come onto private property [and] disturb a legitimate business,” said Brooks. “These people take care of these animals better than some people care for their kids.”

But DxE is desperate for public discussion. The activists are willing to provoke or go to prison if necessary.

DxE’s co-founder and organizer Wayne Hsiung specifically called out Whole Foods and Amazon executives, as the Amazon-owned grocery chain is one of the customers the farm sells its eggs to.

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“It’s time for Whole Foods to have a conversation with the activists. They’ve been ignoring and I think the executives will recognize there’s something profoundly wrong about what they’re selling.”