During Direct Action Everywhere’s (DxE) 2018 Animal Liberation Conference, an estimated 500 animal rights activists took to the streets of San Francisco to participate in what was, at the time, the largest Anonymous For the Voiceless (AV) event ever. As more than 100 video screens displayed footage of animal exploitation in six “Cubes of Truth,” dozens of advocates conducted vegan outreach with pedestrians who stopped to watch the videos. Animal rights activists Chase Avior, Jane Velez-Mitchell and James Aspey spoke to TheirTurn about the impact of AV:
Anonymous for the Voiceless uses “standard-practice” footage of animal agriculture to expose the public to the atrocities that the industry goes to great lengths to hide, and it provides people with tools to switch to a vegan lifestyle.
Jane Velez-Mitchell of JaneUnChained reporting from the Cube of Truth in San Francisco
Since its inception in April, 2016, AV has staged over 4,000 “Cubes of Truth” in 650 cities around the world, convincing over 214,000 people to consider making the transition to veganism.
Cube of Truth in San Francisco organized by Anonymous for The Voiceless and Direct Action Everywhere during the 2018 Animal Liberation Conference.
During the 2018 Animal Liberation Conference in Berkeley, California, over 500 animal rights activists traveled to the city of Stockton to bear witness at a chicken slaughterhouse. During the four hour vigil, which was organized by The Save Movement and Direct Action Everywhere, slaughterhouse workers brought the activists five chickens as a peace offering. A total of nine animals were saved during the course of the day.
The Save Movement is a worldwide network of Save groups bearing witness to farmed animals and promoting veganism and love-based, grassroots activism. Two local chapters of the Save Movement, Bay Area Animal Save and Stockton Animal Save, stage monthly vigils at the Stockton Poultry Market.
Over 500 activists bear witness at a slaughterhouse in Stockton, California (photos: Bay Area Animal Save)
The Save Movement aims to set up vigils at every slaughterhouse and now has over 415 groups in 50 countries worldwide.
Activists participate in slaughterhouse vigil during 2018 Animal Liberation Conference. (Bay Area Animal Save)
As NYC Health Commissioner Mary Bassett began delivering remarks at a forum about charitable giving on July 21st, activists angered by her refusal to enforce health codes violated during an animal sacrifice shut down her talk. This was the fifth time that activists have disrupted Commissioner Bassett over her support of Kaporos, a religious ritual during which ultra-Orthodox Jews in New York City swing an estimated 60,000 six-week old chickens around their heads and slaughter them, contaminating the streets and sewers with their blood, body parts, feathers and feces.
“How can Commissioner Bassett make a presentation in good conscience about taking care of the less fortunate when she’s endangering the health of some of NYC’s most vulnerable residents?” asked Nathan Semmel, one of the organizers of the disruption. “We know we can’t ask Dr. Bassett to align her behavior with the values she publicly espouses, but we can demand that she enforce the law.”
A dozen animal rights and public health advocates disrupt NYC Health Commissioner over her refusal to enforce health codes violated during a mass animal sacrifice on public streets.
The most recent protest comes on the heels of news about the spread of bird flu. On June 15th, Newsweek reported that The Centers for Disease Control said the current strain of avian influenza has “the greatest potential to cause a pandemic of all human viruses.” If the flu spreads to the United States, New Yorkers will be particularly vulnerable because tens of thousands of city residents come into contact with the sick and dying chickens who are stacked in crates on the streets for several days leading up to the Kaporos ritual.
NYC Health Commissioner Mary Bassett refuses to acknowledge a toxicology report which includes avian flu as one of many health risks associated with the ritual sacrifice Kaporos (center photo: Unparalleled Suffering Photography)
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.
NYC Health Commissioner Mary Bassett refuses to acknowledge the multiple health codes are violated during a mass sacrifice of 60,000 six week old chickens on public streets.
“Not only does Dr. Bassett refuse to enforce the health codes, but she also refuses to acknowledge a toxicology report which unequivocally states that the violations jeopardize the public health by exposing New Yorkers to e-coli, salmonella, avian flu and many other pathogens and toxins,” said Jessica Hollander, who participated in the protest. “Her decision to put politics ahead of public health will come back to haunt her if a disease outbreak occurs because she has been warned by experts that the illegal animal sacrifice poses serious health risks.”
Multiple health codes are violated during Kaporos, a ritual animal sacrifice, but NYC Health Commissioner Mary Bassett turns a blind eye because the practitioners represent a powerful voting bloc.
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.
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.