On Saturday, December 7th, several dozen animal rights activists with Caring Activists Against Fur (CAAF) and The Animals Battalion staged an anti-fur protest at Bergdorf Goodman, a luxury department store in Manhattan. In spite of pending legislation that would ban the sale of fur in NYC and the decision by Macy’s & Bloomingdales to close their fur departments, Bergdorf’s refuses to take fur off of its racks. The protest attracted the attention of thousands of pedestrians on 57th Street and Fifth Ave, the epicenter of Manhattan’s holiday shopping district.
In March, 2019, the Speaker of the New York City Council, Corey Johnson, introduced legislation to ban the sale of new fur products. In spite of widespread support among New Yorkers for a fur ban, the bill stalled after a prominent black preacher in Harlem, Reverend Johnnie Green, decried it as racist.
In op-eds published in New York City newspapers, African American animal rights activists criticized Reverend Green, who was hired by the fur lobby, for using racism to oppose a fur ban. In a Daily News opinion piece Jabari Brisport, a public school teacher running for New York State Senate, wrote “I found it insulting that the fur trade would use my community as a smokescreen. . . I’ve marched with Black Lives Matter in Charlottesville and gotten hit with tear gas by white supremacists. I’ve been arrested while protesting a luxury housing development in Crown Heights. I know what a threat to the black community looks like. This fur ban ain’t it.”
Energized by the recent passage of a fur ban in the state of California, Voters for Animal Rights, a NYC-based advocacy group, has vowed to continue lobbying NYC lawmakers in support of the Council Speaker Johnson’s legislation. At the same time, animal rights groups, including CAAF, Animals Battalion, Total Liberation New York and PETA, continue to target prominent retailers selling fur, including Canada Goose, Nordstrom, Woolrich, Fendi, the Fur Source and Paragon Sports.
There is a perception in the animal rights community that fur consumption is declining when, in fact, it is on the rise.
From 1990 – 2015, fur sales in the U.S. grew by approximately 50%
From 2013 to 2014, U.S. fur sales grew by 7.3%
In 2014, fur sales in the U.K. increased by 20%
From 2011 – 2013, global fur sales jumped by more than 50% – from $16 billion to $36 billion
According to the Fur Information Council of America (FICA), the largest U.S. fur industry association, the number of designers who use fur has dramatically increased, climbing from 42 in 1985 to approximately 500 today. FICA also asserts that 55% of the people who buy fur today are under 44, dispelling the myth that fur is primarily consumed by older people.
A 2015 article published in the Guardian documented the rise of the fur industry.
“The fur industry’s statistics reflect what we’re seeing in the streets — that fur consumption is on the rise,” said Edita Birnkrant, Campaigns Director for Friends of Animals, an international animal advocacy group. “For the sake of the animals, we have to organize and take a more aggressive approach on their behalf.”
Friends of Animals holds in store protests and puts up anti-fur billboards.
The increase in fur sales can be attributed to many variables, including high demand from China; the use of technology to make fur suitable for warm climates; the growing use of fur trim; the increased use of fur in men’s clothing; the growing practice of dying fur; and the consumption of fur among celebrities with a large social media following. According to Mark Oaten, CEO of the International Fur Federation, “…with this increase in demand, farmers are deciding to invest more in fur farms and increase production.”
Dying fur and the growing use of fur trim have led to an increase in fur sales and, by extension, the number of fur farms.
While the animal rights community appears to be losing the war against the fur trade (despite occasional victories), some activists have responded to the increased prevalence of fur by engaging in more provocative anti-fur tactics. During the past several winters, activists Robert Banks and Angela Dee from NYC, the nation’s fur capital (according to FICA), have posted videos on social media in which they publicly shame fur wearers. The videos, which also include graphic footage of animal cruelty in the fur industry, have garnered millions of views. “If people know that by wearing fur they are risking public humiliation, perhaps they will think twice before draping themselves in the skins of tortured and murdered animals,” said Robert Banks.
Many self-proclaimed animal rights activists have denounced their tactics, claiming that they are misogynistic. In response to this allegation, Angela Dee said “It is not our fault that most fur wearers are women. By this logic, shouldn’t protesting rape also be sexist since most rapists are men?”
Anti-fur activists shaming fur wearers
One of their videos has made an especially large impact. It shows a trapped coyote being shot dead juxtaposed with the logo of Canada Goose, a Canadian manufacturer of luxury apparel that uses real coyote fur. After being promoted by PETA, the video, which was viewed over 16 million times on Facebook, triggered a Twitter campaign. Canada Goose took notice and responded with a Facebook post stating, “In response to the recent campaign from PETA, we know and deeply respect that whether or not people want to wear fur is a personal choice…We read and hear all of your feedback.” Canada Goose also claimed that its fur is “responsibly sourced.”
Canada Goose responded to the video and PETA’s campaign with a Facebook post
According to Born Free USA, a national animal advocacy organization, over 50 million animals are killed every year by the fur industry across the globe. Fur farmed animals spend their lives in small cages where they go insane from the stress of confinement and rarely receive veterinary care. The animals are killed in ways that are inexpensive and that do the least damage to their pelts — gassing, anal/vaginal electrocution, neck breaking, poisoning, or by bludgeoning them to death. Wild caught animals can suffer for days in painful traps and snares from exposure to the elements, hunger, and thirst before being shot or bludgeoned to death by a trapper. According to Born Free USA, the number of trappers in the U.S. has increased by 20% since 2004.
Fur farmed animals spend their lives in filthy, overcrowded cages and rarely receive veterinary care.
Most fur comes from China where animal protection laws are virtually non-existent. PETA undercover investigations on Chinese fur farms have revealed animals being skinned alive. They have also shown that dogs and cats are kidnapped and sold into the fur trade.
Investigations on Chinese fur farms have revealed horrific cruelty and that dogs and cats are killed for their fur.
Contact your House representative and ask him/her to co-sponsor the “Public Safety and Wildlife Protection Act” which would “ban the import, export, and interstate commerce of both steel-jaw leghold traps and Conifer traps,” two of the cruelest devices used to capture fur-bearing animals.
If you see someone wearing fur, film your encounter and post it on social media.
On a weekend day that should have been busy at The Fur Source, a large fur retailer in NYC, at least a dozen shoppers quickly changed their mind after entering the store, telling protesters that their presence awakened them. “That lady gave me one of these [flyers] and, after reading it, I just couldn’t do it to the animals,” said one shopper who exited the store within two minutes of entering.
Several other shoppers who changed their minds upon entering the store gave activists a thumbs up on their way out.
Shopper leaves fur store after reading CAAF’s handout
Store employees, some of whom displayed placards on nearby street corners to lure in customers, were visibly distraught that the shoppers who they convinced to visit the store felt compelled to leave because of the ant-fur handout they received.
Store employees who lured in shoppers from street corners grew increasingly frustrated as potential customers changed their mind about entering the store
During the two hours that protesters lined the street in front of the Fur Source, not one shopper exited the store with a package or shopping bag.
Roberto Bonelli with CAAF and the Animals Batallion
The protest, organized by Caring Activists Against Fur (CAAF), was one of many staged each year at the Fur Source during the fall and winter months.
On November 21st, the Anti-Fur Society is hosting an cruelty-free conference followed by a fashion show hosted by fashion designer John Bartlett. For details, please visit the website for the Anti-Fur Society Conference.
Jane Velez-Mitchell of Jane UnChained spoke to the designer about the highly-anticipated event.
On November 22nd, CAAF is staging its annual an anti-fur march in the midtown Manhattan’s shopping district.
On November 29th, CAAF is staging a protest at the Fur Source.
It’s Fashion Week in a frigid NYC, and the streets are covered in blood. And, while nothing short of an army of full time activists could stem the flow, the community is fighting back.
Earlier this week, TheirTurn reported on fur shaming as a tactic to stop people from wearing fur garments. Today, we look at other approaches to transform the Big Apple from red to green.
BILLBOARDS: PETA has erected a 90′ billboard in Times Square on which the musician Pink poses naked and says, “Be comfortable in your own skin, and let others keep theirs.” Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people will see – and perhaps think about and discuss – this provocative billboard.
PETA’s Anti-fur billboard in Times Square (photo: Slobadan Randjelovic)
In December, Friends of Animals erected a “Flip Off” Fur billboard in Times Square and risked arrest with a bold protest inside of the Macy’s “Fur Vault.”
Friends of Animals (FOA) anti-fur billboard in Times Square
PROTESTS: Jane Velez-Mitchell of JaneUnchained has reported on several recent fur protests in New York. In this story, Jane covers a Caring Activists Against Fur (CAAF) protest at the Fur Source, a store on which the activist community has declared war.
During fashion week, Viktor Luna, a designer who uses fur, staged a runway show on the backs of NYC’s beleaguered carriage horses. NYCLASS, an activist group working to ban horse-drawn carriages, held a protest in an attempt to disrupt the designer’s show and generate attention for the plight of the carriage horses.
Designer Viktor Luna staged a fashion show on the backs of carriage horses. (photo: Daily News)
Caring Activists Against Fur Valentine’s Day Protest (photos: Roberto Bonelli)
ONE-ON-ONE ENGAGEMENT: Some activists shame people wearing fur; some wear anti-fur buttons; and some attempt to start a conversation with people wearing fur.
A TheirTurn reader (left) submitted this photo of herself with a fur wearer who was willing to not only listen but also pose for a post-discussion photo.
The winter of 2015 has brought out so much fur that activists are tearing out our own hair in frustration, but we can’t let that stop us. We must create an environment where people no longer feel comfortable wearing fur because they are either educated about the issue or afraid of the consequences. If you live someplace where people wear fur, please use whatever approach works best for you to be a voice for the animals who have every right to keep their skin.