NEW YORK - "No one will be killed, if you do as we say!" Roberto Alvarez heard these frightening words as someone behind him put a paring knife to his neck. Alvarez, a Planet Hollywood salad prep crew worker, was one of fourteen of the kitchen staff held hostage by six masked men and women for four harrowing hours in the Times Square location yesterday.
During that time not only did Alvarez and the others fear for their lives, but they were subjected to long harangues about vegetable rights. In an exclusive, The Salguod Report obtained copies of the security videotape from the camera in the kitchen where the hostages were held.
The video shows the six activists, each clad in hospital scrubs and wearing surgical masks, brandishing a variety of kitchen knives.
The following are edited portions of transcript of the audio. The speakers are several of the activists.
"We are the military arm of the Vegetable Rights Liberation Front. We are here on behalf of vegetable freedom."
"Before 'organic purists' deceived large portions of the public into believing that natural living plants want to die for us, the American food industry was well on its way to providing us with all-synthetic foods. Vegetables don't need to die so we can live!"
"French-cut green beans? Sounds attractive unless you're the one being sliced on a diagonal."
"Diced onion and peppers? Sound like a game to you? Let's try it with your fingers then, sweetie."
"And carrots julienned? Sounds tasty. But think about how it feels being slivered into dozens of pieces all at once."
"Sautéed? Try being fried alive, and in scalding oil from a fellow vegetable, just add insult to injury. Sound like fun to you? Maybe we should try it on you." [At this point the video shows one of the VTLF activists taking vegetable washer Maria Martinez and pushing her hand toward the deep fryer.]
"I'll tell you 'Why Planet Hollywood?' Everybody, at least everybody in Hollywood, is fighting for the animals -- but what about the plants? There is nothing more abused and downtrodden than vegetable matter. Think about lawn grass, football fields and cow pastures. Trampled, stomped upon and eaten. No Hollywood hotshot is there for the grass. And that's why we're here."
The standoff ended after tense negotiations by phone with the restaurant's Hollywood backers.
The hostages were released only when Arnold Schwarzenegger, the governor of California, agreed to put VRLF's Vegetable Rights Initiative on the California ballot in next fall's elections, and talked Bruce Willis and Demi Moore into agreeing to make a documentary written by Sylvester Stallone on the plight of factory farmed fruits. And Planet Hollywood, all locations, will immediately end operation of its all-you-can-eat salad bars.
The six activists, who have been tentatively identified as former students at Hampshire, Bennington and Marlboro colleges, were arrested and removed to Riker's Island for processing. Arraignment is scheduled for Tuesday morning.
Two of the hostages were treated for burns and two others for cuts and abrasions at Mount Sinai Medical Center but were expected to be released later today.
The Vegetable Rights Liberation Front (VRLF) is an activist collective dedicated to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all living things.
Previous notable VRLF group actions have included protesting plant confinement by burning the Eurofresh Farms in Willcox, Arizona, in October 2004, formerly the largest one-site greenhouse facility in the world. VRLF activists also completely disrupted Vegan Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio)keynote address at the Vegan and Vegetarian Alliance annual meeting in December 2005.
The Wilkes County (North Carolina) Sheriff's Department also suspects the VRLF of removing and relocating the White House Christmas tree before it could be cut down in November of 2003.
Planet Hollywood, a theme restaurant chain inspired by the popular portrayal of Hollywood, was launched in New York on October 22, 1991, with the backing of Hollywood stars Stallone, Willis, Schwarzenegger and Moore. The Times Square restaurant is located near the junction of Broadway and Seventh Avenue in the New York City borough of Manhattan.
Copyright 2006 Douglas Salguod