An animal rights group in Cecil County, Maryland, is receiving backlash after members of the organization apparently shouted racial slurs at a group of Girl Scouts and defended the "cramped, inadequate conditions" local shelter animals were facing.
When Chesapeake Bay Troop 176 read about the conditions homeless animals endured at a local shelter, they felt the need to take action.
"We thought that is isn't right to treat our animals the wrong way, so I wanted to give reasons why they shouldn't," said Girl Scout Tamara Spurlock, 11.
The troop attended the county's Animal Care and Control Oversight Commission on April 29th to express their concern. Their fear for the well-being of these animals, however, was dismissed by supposed animal rights group and the county's animal control vendor, A Buddy for Life, who began shouting racial slurs at the children.
"They were saying, 'Go back to Baltimore, where you belong,' and they started pointing out me and my sisters," said 13 year old Arianna Spurlock, who is African-American.
Video attained by WMAR Baltimore News shows the scout group, carrying homemade signs and exhibiting their right for peaceful protest, being harassed by adult supporters of the organization. A male troop leader can be seen defending the girls and trying to de-escalate the situation.
"You guys, no racial comments, okay?" he can be heard saying in the video. "Saying that they belong in Baltimore because they're black, that is wrong. Please don't say that, okay?"
Buddy for Life Co-Director Jen Callahan accused the girls of being "coached".
"The Girl Scouts came out and had some things to say, I understand that they were coached with what to say," she said, a comment that was met with outrage.
"Hey, they're kids!" someone can be heard shouting in the tape.
"Excuse me, the Girl Scouts were not coached," added troop leader Jayne Mitchell-Werbrich.
"Miss Jayne never told us what to say," said Lily Talley, 11, who spoke during the meeting. "And we actually thought of it by ourselves."
Mitchell-Warbrich has openly criticized the county's animal control center for a case of neglect that she previously reported.
A statement from A Buddy for Life denied that any employee of the organization was involved in the incident, stating the group "cannot control the words or actions of citizens that attended that meeting" and that they "(do not) condone the behavior that was on display after the meeting".
Despite the backlash, the negative response has only heartened the brave girls to continue to fight for the proper treatment of the animals.
"All people have the same rights, so everyone should be treated fairly and the same," Arianna said.
"We, as kids, we always were taught, if you didn't have anything nice to say don't say it at all," Talley said. "They should have done that."