For Southern California couple Quan and Dana Phu, squabbling over a couple of chickens may mean keeping or losing a part of their culture and their livelihood. The couple owns American Live Poultry, a slaughterhouse in the city of Rosemead, which kills and sells live chickens – catering mostly to the city’s large Asian population. But due to complaints of traffic congestion and offensive odors, the city wants the couple to stop their business, citing an ordinance which banished slaughterhouses shortly after the business was opened.
“Who wants a slaughterhouse in their backyard?” said current Mayor Sandra Armenta, reported the Los Angeles Times. “We are trying to be very business-friendly, but we have to look at all aspects.”
But in the Phu’s lawsuit, they argue that closing their shop is a disservice to the community, as freshly prepared poultry with the head and feet still attached holds special meaning for many Asians and Buddhists who use the birds as offerings. As such, the lawsuit accuses city officials of racial and religious discrimination. To address the issue of odor, the couple have expressed interest in upgrading the facilities, but city officials said this would require repelling the city ordinance and thus open the floodgates for other slaughterhouse businesses.
One California Department of Food and Agriculture supervisor defends the establishment by saying it is one of the cleanest of the two dozen in Los Angeles County. “I have never seen people gang up like they have on this business; and he is not a bad operator, he is one of my best,” Namara Garbaba said.
In the past, the city of Rosemead has dealt with other issues stemming from the growing Asian majority population. In 1990, the town was 33.5% Asian and 48.5% Latino; in 2010, it was reported that Asians made up 60.3% of the population, and Latinos made up another 33.8%.