Children of workers led virus-driven protests in meatpacking town

This past spring, as meatpacking plants across the nation quickly became invisible hotspots for Covid-19, a group of young adults whose parents work at the massive Smithfield Foods pork processing plant in Crete, Nebraska, launched a series of protests that were unprecedented in an industry that likes to keep a low profile, as Esther Honig and Mary Anne Andrei report in FERN’s latest story, a multimedia partnership with Latino USA.

Maira Mendez, a high school administrator in Lincoln, Nebraska, and several of her friends formed a Facebook messenger group called “The Children of Smithfield.” They urged state officials, including Gov. Pete Rickets, to take action to protect their parents and other workers. When their pleas went unanswered, they turned to the media and began demonstrating.