Activists with Friends of Animals (FOA) staged a bold, in-store protest in the Fur Vault at New York City’s Macy’s, the world’s largest department store. Edita Birnkrant, FOA’s Campaign Director, said, “We entered the Fur Vault and, while chanting into the megaphone, I unraveled the crime scene tape and laid it across the coats. At that point, the manager yelled, ‘Call 911’ and another employee answered ‘I already did.'”
Birnkrant and her three partners in crime (compassion, really) took their anti-fur, pro-kindess message inside the store because “people wake up and think in a more heightened way when they encounter a protest where they don’t expect it and where it’s not supposed to happen — on private property.”
During their seven minutes at the Fur Salon, Birnkrant asked shoppers to make the connection between the fur coats and the animals who were skinned to make them. And, of course, she and her fellow activists chanted: “Hey, Macy’s, what do you say? How did you get your fur today? Gassing, trapping, anal electrocution.” Shortly after they arrived, Macy’s security ushered customers out of the Fur Vault and shut the doors, temporarily halting business on one of the business shopping days of the year.
The response from shoppers who gathered to watch was mixed. Some applauded, and others challenged them: “As I was chanting ‘Please reject the violence of fur,’ one woman angrily asked “How about the violence to human beings? In response, I said, ‘We can have compassion for people and animals. How we treat each other, how we treat animals, and how we treat the planet are all connected.” As expected, one shopper shouted, “Plants feel pain too.” There’s one in every crowd.
Birnkrant knew that she and the others might be arrested and wrote the name of a lawyer on her arm just in case: “I honestly had no idea what to expect. Would we be jumped by cops, thrown to the ground and hauled to jail for doing this?” Fortunately, luck was on their side that day: “We were able to pull off a 7-minute in-store protest with a megaphone without getting arrested, and I’m happy about that.”
Asked why she took the risk, Birnkrant said, “Non-violent civil disobedience has been used by other social justice movements that we all admire. Direct action is needed for the animals who have no voice. We need to be loud, aggressive and disruptive to get peoples’ attention, but we should always be respectful. We’re trying to reach people with a message of compassion, so it can’t come across as simply rage.”
FOA organized the protest in Macy’s Fur Salon, or “Chamber of Horrors,” as Birnkrant refers to it, to coincide with the unveiling of their gigantic “Flip off Fur” billboard in Times Square.
Jane Velez-Mitchell reports on the billboard and the protest on Jane Unchained:
An anti-fur petition created just three days ago has already amassed over 90,000 signatures. Gap Inc.’s Intermix stores sell garments made from raccoon dogs, foxes, rabbits, mink, and kangaroos. Please sign the Change.org petition asking Gap Inc. to make all of its stores fur fur-free.