ANIMAL rights activists hit the headlines last year with a series of remarkable protests.

Brighton Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) campaigners have taken their message to supermarkets, restaurants, cosmetic shops and abattoirs.

The first time the group hit the headlines was in fact in October 2018 when members staged a silent protest in the meat aisle at Tesco in Hove.

Then weeks later the group highlighted concerns of the slaughter of turkeys for Christmas at Waitrose in Western Road, Brighton.

They attracted national attention when they were interviewed by Piers Morgan on ITV’s Good Morning Britain.

Their first protests of 2019 targeted shops in North Laine, including the Artemis boutique which sells fur rugs and items.

“It’s not fashion, it’s violence,” the group said.

But shop owner Melissa Devabri said the group had acted like “vigilantes” and she felt like a “prisoner” in her business.

She was not the only business owner to fear a visit from the placard-waving DxE group.

Since then, the group targeted Starbucks and Jamie’s Italian restaurant in March.

In the summer there was shock after the group smeared fake blood throughout McDonald’s in London Road, Brighton.

Activist Dylan Roffey, 24, of Terminus Road, Brighton, found herself convicted in court for criminal damage and was ordered to complete unpaid work.

The restaurant manager said people felt distressed, while prosecutors described the protest as “intimidating”.

But in one blog post shared by the group, those dubbed as “embarrassed vegans” were criticised.

They said campaigners such as Malcolm X, Emmeline Pankhurst and Peter Tatchell had been prepared to rattle cages.

The post read: “As vegans, none of us have a monopoly on what does or does not work.

“So before you condemn something, ask yourself who it was really aimed at.”

The blog post said those dining in restaurants are not the “targets” of protests. The target were the millions of people who read about it in the media and were reminded of the connection between the meat on their plate and the animals they coo over as they drive past fields.”

This autumn the group staged a protest outside Mac cosmetics shop in East Street, where they gained some public support for their case.

The group said they are often told “you will never win people that way”. But DxE says: “It’s not about you, it’s about the animals.”