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At Press Conference, Advocates Demand That NYC Health Commissioner Mary Bassett Enforce the Law

June 19, 2018 by 4 comments

The News

As part of an ongoing campaign to shut down a ritual animal sacrifice that violates multiple health codes, dozens of activists with The Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos held a press conference at the headquarters of the NYC Department of Health (DOH) on June 6th to demand that Commissioner Mary Bassett enforce the law. NY1 News covered the story.

The press conference, which was held during the lunchtime rush, attracted the attention of hundreds of city employees. While many expressed their support with a “thumbs up,” others averted their eyes.  According to supporters at the DOH, city employees refer to the protesters as “the chicken people.”

During Kaporos in NYC, an estimated 60,000 chickens are slaughtered, and their blood and body parts contaminate the streets, jeopardizing the public health.

In October 2017, animal rights and public health advocates launched a campaign targeting the Commissioner Bassett after she defended the use of live chickens based on the absence of “disease signals” without acknowledging the health code violations or the warnings outlined in a toxicology report that was submitted into evidence as part of an ongoing lawsuit against the Dept. of Health.  Activists say that, to date, Commissioner Bassett has neither refuted the findings of the toxicology report nor challenged the activists’ assertion that multiple health codes are violated.

The lawsuit filed by attorney Nora Marino on behalf of residents in the neighborhoods most affected by the animal slaughter is pending in the Court of Appeals, which is NY State’s highest court.

The Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos has been attempting to engage with Commissioner Bassett for the past several years.  Her refusal to meet with this organization or address the Kaporos controversy triggered grass roots animal rights activists to begin disrupting Commissioner Bassett at her public speaking engagements. Since October, 2017, they have disrupted four of her presentations. In three cases, she left the venue.

Sources inside the administration say that Commissioner Bassett is refusing to enforce the health laws because the ultra-orthodox Jews who violate them represent a powerful voting bloc that helped to elect her boss, NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio. In fact, Commissioner Bassett publicly addressed her need to prioritize politics ahead over public health in an interview with the Boston University School of Public Health.

Commissioner Bassett admits that she must sometimes prioritize politics ahead of public health.

During the ritual, called Kaporos, ultra-Orthodox Jews swing live chickens around their heads in a symbolic transfer of their sins to the animals prior to the Jewish Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur. After the ritual, the chickens are killed in pop-up slaughterhouses erected without permits on public streets.

While most of the dead and dying chickens are stuffed into garbage bags and hauled away by the NYC Dept. of Sanitation, many end up in the streets, on the sidewalks and in the sewers.

NYC Health Commissioner ignores the multiple health code violations that take place during Kaporos.

Fur Aficionado Takes to the Streets – and to Her Closet – to Make Amends 

June 13, 2018 by Leave a Comment

The News

Wearing fur made Susan Adriensen feel glamorous, but a 2005 trip to Holland, where she received unwanted stares for wearing fur, changed that. When she returned home, Adriensen tucked her two furs in her closet and forgot about them — until she saw a video about fur industry on social media. “I knew my coats were made out of animals, but I never thought about how the fur got from the animal onto my coat,” said Adriensen. “When I finally learned about the violence, I felt I decided to say ‘furwell’ to my coats and to make amends.”

Over the course of several months in 2017 and 2018, Adriensen, who became an animal rights activist, decided to put her fur coats to good use. In Hoboken, a suburb of NYC, Adriensen and her fellow activists with the group E.A.R.T.H. (Environmentalist Animal Rights Team of Hoboken), laid the fur coats on top of makeshift tombstones and used peoples’ interest in the provocative display to educate them about the horrors of the fur industry.”

Susan Adriensen prepares to deliver her fur coats to a wild animal rescue facility in New Jersey.

“We saw very few full length fur coats, but we encountered hundreds of people wearing fur trim,” said Michal Klein, an activist with E.A.R.T.H. “While we can’t change the hearts and minds of everyone who saw us, we do feel like our advocacy compelled some people to remove the trim and to consider animals when buying clothes in the future.”

When winter ended, Adriensen, Klein and other E.A.R.T.H. activists, delivered the fur coats to a wildlife rehabilitation facility for orphaned animals. Within minutes of their arrival, baby squirrels and opossums were nuzzling in the fur.

Orphaned wild animals find comfort in fur coats donated to rescue centers and sanctuaries

“I wish their mothers were alive so that these babies didn’t need to seek comfort in discarded fur, but I’m happy that my furs have been repurposed to give them some comfort,” said Adriensen.

The 2018 Animal Liberation March in San Francisco

June 9, 2018 by Leave a Comment

The News

An estimated 1,200 animal rights activists took to the streets of San Francisco to participate in a dramatic march for animal liberation. Organizers made planned stops at Sephora, Uggs and Burger King to draw attention to the cruelty of animals in the cosmetics, clothing and food industries.  They also staged a mass die-in to draw attention to the plight of elephants and other animals exploited in the entertainment industry. TheirTurn spoke to  onlookers along the parade route to get their reactions:

Organized by the global animal rights network Direct Action Everywhere (DxE), the march was one of several high profile actions staged during the organization’s one-week Animal Liberation Conference, which was held in the nearby city of Berkeley. After the march, DxE staged a rally in Union Square featuring renowned activists James Aspey; Natasha from That Vegan Couple and Wayne Hsiung, co-founder of Direct Action Everywhere.

2018 Animal Liberation March hosted by the animal liberation network, Direct Action Everywhere (DxE)

The march was organized by the global animal rights network Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) and was one of several high profile actions staged during the organization’s one-week Animal Liberation Conference, which was held in the nearby city of Berkeley.

Onlookers React to New York City’s March to Close All Slaughterhouses

June 5, 2018 by Leave a Comment

The News

In New York City, hundreds of animal rights activists took to the streets to participate in the global March to Close Down All Slaughterhouses. The 1.5 mile march began with a rally on the steps of the NYC Public Library and ended with a mass die-in in Union Square. New York is one of 37 cities in 16 countries that are participating in the annual march. TheirTurn spoke to onlookers along the parade route to get their reaction to the march and the message.

At the rally, Carla Athena Tejada, an animal rights activist who organized the NYC march, told participants: “It is our goal to have others see what we see and know what we know — that this violence is unnecessary and that we demand the abolition of this exploitation.”

Kathy Stevens, founder of Catskill Animal Sanctuary, which rescues and advocates for farm animals, said, “If I’ve learned anything in 17 years of running an animal sanctuary, it is that animals want their lives just as much as we want ours.  In the ways that truly matter, we are all the same.”

NYC organizer Carla Athena Tejada delivers opening remarks at the rally before the March to Close Down All Slaughterhouses

According to StopAbattoirs, the organization that coordinates the global marches, 60 billion land animals and more than 1,000 billion aquatic animals are killed each year. That translates to 164 million land animals and almost 3 billion aquatic animals being slaughtered each day.

The 2017 March to Close Down All Slaughterhouses in Paris. The 2018 March takes place on June 23rd (photo:

Hundreds Mourn Victims of Animal Agriculture at Ashes of Speciesism Funeral

May 26, 2018 by Leave a Comment

The News

Over 300 activists attending the 2018 Animal Liberation Conference in Berkeley participated in a funeral procession for farm animals in front of City Hall to remember the victims of animal agriculture and draw attention to the need for an animal rights amendment to the U.S. constitution.

During the funeral, which lasted approximately three hours, mourners marched through the streets of Berkeley with a deceased piglet named Chloe and then buried her in a public park in front in front City Hall. Participants also eulogized five rescued farm animals and spread their ashes under and their photos, which were displayed in the park.

Hundreds of animal rights activists participate in DxE’s funeral for victims of the animal agriculture industry.

The funeral was organized by the global animal rights group, Direct Action Everywhere, which hosted the Animal Liberation Conference.