Animal Rights Protesters Battered and Falsely Imprisoned by Arashi Yama Affiliates

Animal Rights Protesters Battered and Falsely Imprisoned by Arashi Yama Affiliates

Updated June 18 | Arashi Yama told Gnv Animal Defenders over email that they will be taking foie gras off their menu. They also announced it publicly.

Editor’s Notes | Individuals who appeared to be in charge of Arashi Yama are hereinafter referred to as affiliates of Arashi Yama due to independent verification not being received of their specific employment positions. Some of the protesters chose not to use their full names. 

At around 7:30 pm on Thursday, activists from local animal rights group Gnv Animal Defenders gathered at the back of Arashi Yama Sushi and Hibachi Lounge to peacefully protest their use of foie gras. 

Foie gras is the unnaturally fattened liver of a duck or goose. It is made by forcefully feeding them a high-carbohydrate diet through a long metal tube that is inserted into their esophagus. This causes the birds’ livers to grow seven to ten times larger than their normal size. 

Most of the protesters present were given trespass orders after their previous demonstration on June 9, meaning they would be arrested for trespassing if they went to the premises again. Protesters have continued to gather on a public sidewalk near one of Arashi Yama’s windows. 

This was the third demonstration at Arashi Yama so far, with there having been one each week in June. 

Before the protesters gathered outside, at around 7:20 pm animal rights activists Meir Schochet and Pheonix were inside the restaurant and sitting at the bar. Pheonix was coming from Orlando, representing animal rights group Empty the Cages of Central Florida.

This was Pheonix and Schochet’s first time at Arashi Yama, and they had not protested the establishment prior. They were pushed, had their phones stolen, were barred from leaving by staff, hit, then shoved to the ground and battered. Upon the Gainesville Police Department’s (GPD) arrival, they were detained, put in handcuffs, and given trespass orders.

Schochet gave a play-by-play of what happened during an interview. “We sat down at the bar and were looking at the menu, and then eventually Pheonix stood up and started to give a big speech about foie gras, and that's when everyone started yelling and getting pissed.”


At this point, Pheonix was pushed by a man who appeared to be one of the main authorities over the establishment. The Arashi Yama affiliate who pushed her was one of the main instigators at the last protest, where he and other Arashi Yama affiliates physically assaulted activists in the parking lot. The man had a pistol on him in a holster throughout the encounter.

Cred. Animal Activism Mentorship Youtube

After Pheonix was shoved, an unidentified man took Schochet and Pheonix’s phones out of their hands and began taunting them. Pheonix said later, during an interview, that the Arashi Yama affiliate who pushed her took the opportunity to lock the doors without them noticing when the other man had their phones.

With the activist’s phone in his hands, the unidentified man began walking towards the front door while saying, “You go fuck yourself.” This caused Pheonix and Schochet to follow him to the door, and Pheonix managed to retrieve the devices. The man began slapping their phones in an attempt to knock them out of their hands. He successfully knocked Schochet’s phone out of Pheonix’s hands and began trying to stomp on it, but Pheonix grabbed it before he hit it with his foot. 


Schochet said, “They [stood] in front of the door. We keep yelling, ‘Let us out, let us out.’ We can’t be trespassed because we haven't had the opportunity to leave the premises. They continued refusing to let us leave.”


As what Schochet was describing was happening, Arashi Yama chef Marco Valencia ran outside to insult the protesters. He said, “They got them locked in. They're gonna get arrested motherfuckers. Fuck you.” 


Protesters responded, “The head chef has shit on his hands,” in reference to Valencia directly messaging a picture of his shit to Gnv Animal Defenders on Instagram. 

Schochet described the man who took their phones as a “really aggressive guy,” and said that when they were attempting to leave, “he slammed us to the ground and banged up Pheonix’s knee.”

The Arashi Yama affiliates continued refusing to let them leave, falsely imprisoning them. They continued assaulting and battering the activists, with one pulling Pheonix’s hair hard enough that it ripped at the roots.  


GPD had a large police presence in response to Schochet and Pheonix, sending multiple patrol vehicles and a helicopter to oversee the situation.

When GPD arrived, Pheonix and Schochet were detained and placed in handcuffs. Protesters initially didn’t know why they had been detained. 

The group's police liaison and another activist talked to one of the officers. They announced the situation to their fellow protesters, saying the accusation of battery had been flipped onto Pheonix and Schochet and that they were being detained while the officers reviewed surveillance footage. 

Schochet said they were detained immediately and that the officers were trying to goad them into saying something incriminating by insinuating that they were lying about something. 

One of the officers said that Pheonix could be charged with disorderly conduct due to her speech, which caused an apparent interruption to the flow of business. One of the protesters who was holding a megaphone, Max Unano, openly disagreed with the officer, saying that she was protected under First Amendment free speech rights. Unano said that the only crime committed was false imprisonment after Arashi Yama staff locked the doors when the pair tried to leave. Unano and the officer went back and forth in a verbal dispute. 


Pheonix and Schochet were detained for roughly thirty minutes before they were released and given a trespass order to Magnolia Park Plaza, where Arashi Yama is located. After the pair was released, Schochet gave an interview, and Pheonix decided to go to the hospital, being transported by her fellow activists. She had a cut on her knee, a bruise on her arm, and missing chunks of hair. 

In an interview the following day, Pheonix said that doctors thought she may have a concussion, but it wasn’t confirmed. She said being thrown to the ground by her hair gave her whiplash and that she had neck-pain. 

The rest of the protesters left at 9:30 pm but promised to return until Arashi Yama adopts a foie gras free policy. 

During Pheonix’s interview, she disclosed that responding officers wouldn’t let her make a sworn complaint or report for the battery and the theft of her phone. She said that an officer told her, “If you want this to be tit for tat, you can go to jail for disorderly conduct.” She noted that when she brought up the man taking her phone, the officer responded that he was no longer on the premises, and she questioned how he had access to that information. 

It isn’t entirely clear who is the owner or runs the day-to-day operations of Arashi Yama. It appears to be a family-owned business, as a Gainesville Sun article says it is owned by Fannie Lin and her husband, Benny Bao, while the business is legally registered to Xiaolan Lin. 

On June 8, a day before the previous protest, GnvInfo attempted to follow Arashi Yama on their private Instagram account to ask for a public comment but was blocked before a message was sent. At the last protest, the armed Arashi Yama affiliate attempted to stare down the recording camera and gained close proximity to blow his air horn at it. Further attempts for public comment haven’t been made. 

Arashi Yama has had approximately 58 health code violations in the past two years. It appears the number may now be 59, with Valencia picking up a piece of raw foie gras and taking it out of the kitchen and into the dining area in order to shove it into Pheonix's camera. 

At the end of Pheonix’s interview she went into more detail on the brutality of foie gras production. "Foie Gras is the diseased liver of a duck or goose who has been force-fed with a funnel shoved down their throat. The birds are subjected to violent force-feeding of up to four pounds of food a day until their liver has become fatty and enlarged up to 10 times the normal size. Production of foie gras is illegal in many other countries, and in the entire state of California. This practice is widely considered to be inhumane and cruel. Animal rights activists across the world are determined to see this barbaric abuse become a thing of the past, and we will not give up until that happens.”

Jack Walden

Jack Walden

Jack Walden is the creator of Gnvinfo and a 2nd year journalism major at Santa Fe College. From general information, to exposing falsehoods and corruption, Jack seeks to deliver the truth.
Gainesville, FL