1999 Fur Season Recap
from No Compromise Issue 15

The inherently cruel and barbaric fur industry sells needless luxury garments at the expense of the lives of millions of innocent animals. It profits from the misery and suffering of fur-bearing animals who are killed by gassing, trapping, neck-breaking and anal electrocution.

Those who care about animals refuse to sit idly by and allow this injustice to continue. Activists challenge the killing of animals for their fur around the world on a daily basis. Underground activists liberate mink, fox and other animals from cramped cages on fur farms, and engage in acts of economic sabotage. Above ground activists educate the public through leafleting, tabling, protests and acts of civil disobedience.

This winter activist commitment to ending the fur trade escalated, resulting in frequent arrests, continuous picketing, protests at fur farms and much more. The following is a brief overview of some recent highlights of these efforts.

South Jordan, UT - Activists Protest Slaughter of Mink
In recent months protesters have begun to picket directly outside of the farms where animals are imprisoned. On November 13th anti-fur activists conducted a protest at Beckstead Mink Ranch (11196 South 1700 West in South Jordan).

Magna, UT - Anti-Fur Protesters Conduct Vigil Outside Home of Furrier
Responding to alleged violence and brutality at the hands of L'Ours Blanc Furs, local anti-fur activists gathered for a candle-light vigil and effigy burning outside the home of L'Ours Blanc owner, Mahjouba "Mary" Jepson. Peaceful protesters have campaigned against the sale of fur at L'Ours Blanc since March of 1999. 14 activists were cited for illegal burning and one arrested for criminal Trespass. Media coverage of the event was very positive.

Lake Villa, Illinois - Animal Defense League Targets Mink Farm
Members of the Animal Defense League demonstrated at the Gengel Mink Farm in Lake Villa, Illinois in November to announce the $25,000 fur crime reward set up by CAFT and LCA. Ron Gengel is a third-generation mink farmer who previously served as President of the Mink Research Foundation and on the Executive Committee of the National Board of Fur Farm Organizations. During the demonstration, an activist was assaulted and charges were filed.

Dallas, TX - Lockdown at Neiman's
While approximately 25 Animal Liberation of Texas activists carried signs, chanted and handed out literature, two activists handcuffed themselves to the front doors of the Neiman Marcus store in Dallas. Police arrested the two CD participants. Three TV stations as well as The Associated Press covered the action.

Washington, DC - Compassion Over Killing Targets Neiman Marcus
COK's campaign to make Neiman Marcus (NM) fur-free has expanded greatly since the last issue of NC. In addition to regular demonstrations outside the D.C. NM, activists have engaged in acts of non-violent civil disobedience, including several sit-ins and lockdowns, as well as in-store protests to educate shoppers. Also, activists have educated local residents by placing door-hangers, which expose Neiman's role in the bloody fur trade, on nearly every door in the neighborhoods surrounding the store.

Some actions of interest include:
- On October 23, 1999, while 29 COK activists picketed outside the D.C. Neiman Marcus, two activists entered the store's fur department and handcuffed themselves around a pillar, sat down and chanted for 40 minutes before being arrested.
- On November 4, two activists entered the D.C. Neiman Marcus and, using steel pipe lock-boxes plastered with anti-fur stickers, locked them-selves around a pillar and chanted for 45 minutes before being removed.
- On Fur-Free Friday while more than 80 COK activists picketed outside of the D.C. Neiman Marcus, eight activists engaged in a sit-in in front of NM's doors.
- The next day, November 27, COK declared Fur-Free Saturday. Three activists entered the D.C. Neiman's and, using steel pipe lock-boxes, locked themselves around a pillar. After two hours and fifteen minutes of chanting, police were finally able to remove the activists.

National - Fur Free Friday
Overall, anti-fur protests generated more media coverage on Fur Free Friday 1999 than in the two or three preceding years. This was remarkable because many groups held off on doing civil disobedience actions till later dates. Protester turnout was also high with many cities reporting hundred person strong demos.

Nevertheless, activists in Salt Lake City, Washington DC, Los Angeles and several other cities carried out dramatic direct actions resulting in dozens of arrests. CNN ran footage of the New York City protest at Macy's. While this embarrassed Macy's, CNN completely missed the boat as members of the Animal Defense League- NYC locked themselves together in the fur market, effectively blockading the entrance to one of the fur buildings.

Stores in other parts of the country brought in massive numbers of police, only to find that protesters had scheduled CD actions for different days. The high police turnout, barricades and police-lines created just one more deterrent to keep shoppers away from stores that sell fur.

Boston, MA - Activists Arrested After Occupying Macy's Fur Salon
Eleven activist walked into the downtown Boston Macy's November 5th, sat down in the fur salon and refused to leave. The protesters were able to maintain a presence in the salon for about an hour, chanting and holding signs, before police moved in to arrest and remove them. While these activists educated shoppers inside the store, 40 more protesters picketed outside.

Houston, TX - One Arrested After Cuffing to Neiman's Doors
During a 20-person protest at the Houston Neiman Marcus on December 5th, one chose to escalate the protest by handcuffing himself to the front door of the store. Three TV stations and the Houston Chronicle covered the action.

Minneapolis, MN - SOAR Confronts Shoppers with the Real Face of Fur
On December 11th, SOAR activists gathered in front of Neiman's in downtown Minneapolis. Three skinned beavers (who had been trapped in the wild for their fur) dangled from leghold traps attached to an 8-foot tall structure, directly exposing the public to the cruel truth behind the fur trade.

Activists collected signatures on a petition asking Neiman's to stop selling fur, handed out several hundred flyers (thousands at this point in the campaign), and used a megaphone to speak about the horrible lives fur-bearing animals endure on farms before being butchered.

With about 25 people standing out front with banners and posters, as well as the 3 pitiful dead beings, Neiman's was certainly feeling the pressure.

On the following day, activist turn-out was lower, but once again the dead beavers were put on display to the public. After about an hour approximately 15 public servants (cops) arrived and said that the protest was over and that everyone had to leave. The protesters refused, citing their First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and assembly, at which point they were viciously attacked and arrested on charges of obstruc-ting a pathway, disorderly conduct, and one person was charged with use of annoying amplified equipment for using a megaphone.

Police reports revealed that Neiman's called the police and demanded that they find an excuse to arrest the protesters. They were definitely feeling the pressure! SOAR members have now vowed to spend every day out in front of their store, encouraging people to boycott Neiman's. Another skinned carcass demo is on the way.

Roanoke, VA - Two Activists Arrested at Henri Kessler Furs
Two anti-fur protesters were arrested December 17th during a protest at Henri Kessler Furs. The activists were charged with obstructing a business, a class one misdemeanor.

New York, NY - 35 ADL Members Arrested at Macy's Fur Salon
35 activists from ADL-NYC held a successful sit-in at Macy's December 19th, calling attention to their involvement in the barbaric fur trade. The group chose a high traffic spot that was easy for the media to reach and would cause the most disruption. Throughout the sit-in, only chants that mentioned Macy's and animals were used.

As the time of the action drew near, the bottom floor of Macy's was packed with activists from all over the Northeast, pretending they were customers and didn't know each other. At 12:19, to Macy's surprise they converged on the red carpet and began to chant. Customers stopped shopping and stared, listening to the strong anti-fur message.

Macy's brought out the walkie-talkies and the security guards. Their security was clearly nervous - they had become familiar with ADL actions, from lockdowns outside with barrels or lockboxes to smaller actions inside, but they had never seen an action of this magnitude right inside the store. The extra security guards surrounding the crowd only made them more of a spectacle as customers began to gather around.

It took police over 40 minutes to remove all the activists. Some stood up and left before they were arrested, others walked with the police after being arrested. The majority of protestors were dragged out by the NYPD and met with applause and chanting by a huge support demo.

The ADL would like to thank In Defense of Animals and Len Egert for providing lawyer services throughout the hearings. The case was ended on February 8th, when all but two activists accepted an ACD. The other two, because of prior arrests, pled to disorderly conduct and were sentenced to 1 day of community service.

San Francisco, CA - CAFT SF Sponsors Mass Sit-in & Lockdown
75 anti-fur protesters were arrested for a sit-in at Neiman Marcus in San Francisco and one month later CAFT San Francisco launched the new millennium with a lock-down at the store's doors. These actions are just the first in a series of campaign escalations at the San Francisco store.

December 18th and 19th brought activists from all over the country, including Georgia, Texas and Washington, to San Francisco in an action that has been called the largest anti-fur civil disobedience in U.S. history.

On the 18th dozens of activists sat down and linked arms outside the store. At the same time, several protesters disrupted business inside, causing Neiman's to temporarily close. 51 people were arrested by brutal police.

The next day another group of activists sat down and linked arms around a four-person octopus lockdown. By the end of the day, the weekend's arrest total reached 75, with all activists released on their own recognizance.

This action proved to be an effective regional effort, providing many activists an opportunity for their first act of civil disobedience, and empowering activists to challenge the fur trade.

On the afternoon of January 16, three CAFT-SF activists, using lockboxes, locked around the center door frame at Neiman Marcus. The protest lasted for 1 1/2 hours, until firefighters succeeded in hammering out the rebar. The day ended with 11 arrests, after police conducted a "sweep" of the area, charging bystanders with lynching, robbery, conspiracy and assault on an officer. All charges have since been dropped.

CAFT San Francisco launched a full-scale campaign against Neiman Marcus in September after the department store refused written requests for a meeting with CAFT to discuss the store's continuing sale of fur products. Weekly demos have been held outside of the store ever since.

Chicago, IL - Chicago ADL Members Lockdown for the Animals
On December 19th, 20 members of the Animal Defense League were arrested at Neiman's in downtown Chicago. The protest was part of ADL's participation in Fur Free Christmas 1999. What began as a nonviolent act of civil disobedience - seven activists locked down in front of the store using boxes and bicycle locks - quickly escalated into near chaos when police arrived on the scene.

Officers from the 18th Precinct showed complete disregard for the safety of the locked-down activists. They proceeded to arrest any activist on the scene who had a video camera or still camera, asked for a badge number or acted as a police liaison.

Incidents of brutality included an officer stuffing a bandana into the mouth of a locked-down activist and police dislocating the thumbs of activists while pulling them out of lockboxes. An officer shoved the mother of an activist to the ground when she asked him to stop assaulting her daughter, who was videotaping.

Media coverage included The Chicago Sun-Times, ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX. Activists are planning to file a civil suit against the officers and continue to demonstrate at the store every Saturday afternoon.

Sheboygan, WI - International Mink Show Protest Yields 14 Arrests
Activists from across the Midwest descended upon the 53rd International Mink Show this past January at the Sheraton Four Points Hotel in Milwaukee. On Friday, January 14, only minutes before the first demonstration was slated to begin, police pulled over a van with activists from Chicago in a parking lot adjacent to the hotel.

Local police, along with ATF agents who were at the hotel, detained and then illegally searched the vehicle for over an hour. One activist was arrested for a warrant in a different state but was released later that evening.

Saturday brought out over fifty activists for an all-day demonstration. Five raccoon carcasses hanging from a wooden rack showed the public the real body of the fur industry. Activists challenged Fur Commission USA Executive Director Teresa Platt to a debate, but she failed to materialize. Police threatened to arrest protestors for using a megaphone - despite the fact that activists had the municipal sound ordinances on site - and ordered the carcasses confiscated.

On Sunday, after a bit of street theater, activists traveled to Plymouth to the site of the United Feed Supply fire set by the A.L.F. They had challenged Teresa Platt to a debate about the use of the word "violence" in relation to property damage and the real violence of the fur industry - the torture and murder of animals for their coats. Again, Platt did not appear.

From that point, activists went to the Meyer fur farm, another target of a previous A.L.F. action. Meyer was on site when the entourage arrived and informed them that he was no longer keeping mink. He directed sexist and heterosexist comments towards the group. Protesters left the area after Meyer repeatedly threatened their lives. On the way out of Plymouth, two vans were pulled over by police and all 14 activists in the vehicles were arrested.

Activists were charged with "Disorderly Conduct While Masked" and bond was set at $200 each. They were finally released on Wednesday evening after four days of not eating. In the midst of trial for eight of the defendants, charges were dismissed.

Despite the arrests, police harassment, and the continued lies spread by the fur industry, the weekend was very successful. Media coverage on both television and in print was very favorable and consistent. Local activists from new and growing Wisconsin groups had the opportunity to play host to a regional event and a new Midwest anti-fur coalition was informally born. Best of all, the fur industry felt yet another strike against them from anti-fur forces nationwide.

New Jersey - ADL Embarks on Fur Free New Jersey Tour
"Animal Friendly" or so it says on the specialty license plates mixed in with the traffic cruising down Route 18 in East Brunswick, New Jersey. The abundance of honks in support of a line of protesters in front of the store seems to support the claim that this is the Animal Friendly State. One of the first states to ban the leghold trap, lowest percentage of hunters the facts back up the Garden State. But one figure stands out.

Following only New York and Illinois this state has more fur stores than all others. When the New Jersey chapter of ADL formed in September of 1997, one of its first targets was Oscar Lowey Furs of Metuchen. By February of '98 the store was closed. One hit by the A.L.F. and a handful of monthly protests by ADL created enough pressure to convince the owner to move into a new line of business.

With the closing of Oscar Lowey Furs, there were 54 independent fur retailers spread across the state. In the months that followed, more stores began closing, some with the help of protests, some due to generally poor business. After two years, a total of 13 had closed across the state.

The ADL-NJ, realizing the importance of reaching the people in each of the communities these murderous stores reside in, began a new campaign. In January of 2000, the Fur Free New Jersey Tour began.

A different store is protested every other Saturday. From big to small, east to west, and north to south, every fur retailer will come to realize their support of the murderous fur trade will not go unnoticed. The trend has continued. Since the dates for the tour were set in November, two stores have been removed as they have gone out of business. Another is currently talking to ADL representatives about a contract in which they will avoid protest by agreeing to stop selling fur, remaining open with only service work such as cleaning and storage.

Once the tour has reached its completion, we may begin again. Of course the next time around it will most likely be a shorter tour as more stores will have ceased to exist. In one form or another, we will continue to pressure every fur retailer across the Garden State until none remain.

After all, we have a reputation to live up to.