Their Turn - The Social Justice Movement of Our Time Their Turn - The Social Justice Movement of Our Time


Victim Uses Media Interest in His Assault to Generate Attention for Abused Animals

March 21, 2015 by Leave a Comment

The News

When Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) organizer Nicholas Shaw-Mcminn arrived at an upscale French restaurant in California to protest foie gras, he was not expecting to be attacked with a weapon by the restaurant manager. But you’d think he was, based on his thoughtful reaction that led to extensive media coverage exposing the atrocities of foie gras production.

Restaurant manager attacks DxE activist Matthew Shaw-Mcminn

Omar Haddedou, the manager of Le Vallauris in Palm Springs, attacks DxE activist Nicholas Shaw-Mcminn (photo: DxE)

La Vallauris patrons could hear DxE activists speaking out against foie gras cruelty from the restaurant's parking lot.

DxE activists spoke out against foie gras cruelty from the Le Vallauris parking lot, which is in earshot of the restaurant’s outdoor seating.

Wayne Hsiung, a co-founder of DxE, commended Nick’s reaction: “Even as his face was being clubbed, Nick directly confronted the violence with camera in hand. He did not run. He did not strike back. He did not even curse. He calmly continued recording.”

When asked by a reporter why he didn’t press charges against his assailant, Nick shifted the story to the animals, asserting that the pain he felt is something the animals experience every day: “We want to keep the attention on the animals and not make it just about me. Violent people are causing horrible harm to animals, and someone needs to be there to bring awareness and to try to end this violence.”

Nick is no stranger to being assaulted during a protest. In 2014, several staff members of BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse in San Bernadino, California, aggressively ejected him from the restaurant as he attempted – by  himself – to speak out on behalf of the animals who were being eaten.

DxE’s Wayne Hsiung argues that the physical backlash experienced by Nick and many other activists serves to strengthen the animal rights movement: “The press coverage that results from these incidents has exposed hundreds of thousands of people to the plight of animals and has triggered activists around the world to ask us how they can participate in our non-violent, direct actions.”

After he was attacked in Palm Springs, Nick insisted that the protest continue, in spite of the fact that his face was battered: “These attacks only strengthen my resolve to fight for the animals.” As they were leaving the parking lot, the DxE activists encountered a man overcome with rage who frantically repeated, “Take George Soros and go!” — giving participants a second story to tell.  See for yourself:

Your Turn

To learn more about DxE and create or join a DxE group near you, please visit Direct Action Everywhere.

Filed under: Food
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Exiting our Comfort Zone

February 10, 2015 by Leave a Comment


Direct Action Everywhere (DxE), the animal rights group that is conducting protests inside, is challenging activists to “exit their comfort zone” on behalf of the animals:

“We have found that speaking loudly and proudly in defiance of social convention inspires others to do the same. And that is why we encourage activists to step outside of their comfort zones, past the boundaries of tradition and into the stores that are selling the dead bodies of our friends.”

It’s a message that is resonating with many activists who have taken a more traditional approach by peacefully protesting on public property. Indeed, hundreds of activists in cities around the world are, for the first time, staging protests inside of restaurants and grocery stores.

Of course, courageous activists have put themselves in uncomfortable situations on behalf of animals since the earliest days of the movement – liberating animals from fur farms; conducting undercover investigations in factory farms; protesting naked; blocking entrances to laboratories; and storming onto runways during fashion shows.

Protesting at a Donna Karan runway show

Protesting at a Donna Karan runway show

Exiting one’s comfort zone is nothing new in the movement. What has changed, thanks to DxE and Collectively Free, is that it is going mainstream.

Donny Moss of took the DxE challenge, (nervously) speaking out during a Collectively Free protest exposing Whole Foods’ fraudulent marketing campaign, which claims that the animals who they sell lived happy lives.

“Pushing my own boundaries was cathartic. I could finally relate to the old saying ‘Life begins at the end of your comfort zone,'” said Donny Moss. “More importantly, stunned customers who might have walked right by me during a street protest paid attention to my message.”

Just imagine how much more we could accomplish for animals if we all exited our comfort zone!

Filed under: Food, Opinion
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Activism 2.0 – Entering, Agitating & Disrupting

January 11, 2015 by Leave a Comment


All ethical vegans fighting for animal rights want the same thing — total animal liberation — but our paths to achieving it take us in different directions. In the past two years, a new and confrontational approach has gone mainstream in the U.S. and is spreading globally. Does the approach reflect the natural evolution of all social justice movements? Does it stem from the desire to expedite change for animals? Did it emerge to help activists stand out in an era of information overload? Whatever the motive, the approach is breathing new life into the animal rights movement, jolting  consumers where they least expect it; capturing the attention of the media; and triggering activists to exit their comfort zones on behalf of animals.

DxE protests Chipotle's for marketing animal farming & slaughter as humane.

DxE protests Chipotle’s for marketing animal farming & slaughter as humane. (Photo: DxE)

The big change, propagated by the global organization Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) and embraced by NYC-based Collectively Free, is taking the protests inside of businesses that exploit animals. Let’s face it: many people pay no attention to activists demonstrating on a sidewalk, but they are a captive audience when seated in a restaurant or waiting in line at the grocery store. It’s an approach that, on the surface, appears ineffective or even counterproductive to some people. But in a compelling article about the approach, DxE’s founder, Wayne Hsiung, explains why disrupting and agitating inside are key ingredients in any successful social justice movement.

In his blog, Hsiung writes that Naomi Wolf, the pioneering feminist who studied dissent and protest in America, argues that, throughout history, activists have succeeded only when they disrupted “business as usual” and that today’s protests have become so “bureaucratized, institutionalized, and integrated into the fabric of ordinary life” that they are no longer disruptive.

Rosa Parks agitated by illegally sitting at the front of this bus, which is now a symbol of the Civil Rights movement.

Rosa Parks agitated by illegally sitting at the front of this bus, which is now a symbol of the Civil Rights movement.

Following are a few short excerpts from Hsiung’s blog:

“Dissent is vital to achieving social change, and that dissent is only effective if it is powerful, confident, and . . . disruptive.”

“Passersby, customers, and even multinational corporations can easily dismiss and write us off, if we do not push our message in the places where it is most unwelcome. But when we transform a space where violence has been normalized into a space of dissent, we can jolt, not just individual people, but our entire society into change.”

The AIDS activist group ACT-UP, which was comprised mostly of gay men in the 1990s, would have been ignored if they didn't stop traffic, chain themselves to fences and climb onto rooftops.

ACT-UP, an AIDS activist group, would have been ignored in the 1990s if they didn’t stop traffic, chain themselves to fences and climb onto rooftops. (pictured at the NIH)

“Because we have expressed that our cause is important enough to violate a powerful social norm [dining], we leave a mark on people: “Wow, what the heck was that! They’re so outraged by something that they felt the need to come into the store to register their complaint.”

animal rights protest at Chipotle

DxE breaks with the tradition of letting customers dine in peace.

“Speaking loudly and proudly in defiance of social convention . . . inspires others to do the same. And that is why we encourage our activists to step outside of their comfort zones . . . and into the stores that are selling the dead bodies of our friends.”

Your Turn

Please visit Direct Action Everywhere and Collectively Free to learn about, support and/or join their provocative campaigns to expose the truth about animal farming and promote a cruelty-free lifestyle.

Filed under: Food, Opinion
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Secret Investigation at Whole Foods’ Egg Supplier Reveals Horrors of “Certified Humane” Farming

January 9, 2015 by Leave a Comment

The News

Direct Action Everywhere (DxE), a California-based animal rights group that stages dramatic in-store protests around the world, conducted a year-long investigation of a “certified humane” farm, and what they found was so compelling that the New York Times ran a lengthy (though slanted) story about it, exposing the mainstream public to the myth of “humane” animal agriculture.

Certified humane?

Certified humane?

During approximately 10 visits to Petaluma Farms, a Whole Foods egg supplier in California, DxE took video footage of the horrific conditions in which the “humanely raised” hens are living. In addition to documenting the typical aspects of “life” on factory farms, such as disease, stress and overcrowding, they encountered birds languishing in manure pits; struggling to breath and already dead. One of the worst conditions, the “overwhelming” smell, could not be captured on camera.

In this extraordinary video, DxE uses video footage from its investigation to demonstrate that, even in the “best” of circumstances – on a farm that is “certified humane” – animals are abused, neglected and deprived of the chance to do anything that comes naturally to them.

Because Whole Foods is spending tens of millions of dollars to duplicitously market animal abuse as “humane” and slaughter as an “act of compassion,” DxE is launching an international campaign against the grocery store chain – with protests planned in 50 cities – demonstrating that there is no humane way to slice off hens’ beaks, castrate baby pigs, suffocate animals in gas chambers and slit their throats. Whole Foods, they argue, has built a “house of lies” around a “dark and violent reality,” where their “farms are prisons, and every inmate is on death row.”

Whole Foods markets slaughter as "compassion."

Whole Foods markets slaughter as “compassion.”

Your Turn

Please visit Direct Action Everywhere to learn about, support and/or join their provocative campaigns to expose the truth about animal farming and promote a cruelty-free lifestyle.

Filed under: Food, Investigations
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Activists Use Provocative & Controversial Tactics to Shine Spotlight on Speciesism

October 26, 2014 by Leave a Comment

The News

By observing the actions of adults, we are taught as children that animals exist to serve our needs and desires, not their own. Our sense of superiority to other animals is so ingrained that society gives virtually no thought at all to imprisoning them in zoos, labs and factory farms, thereby stripping them of the freedom that they instinctually desire just as much as we do.

Our behavior can best be described as speciesist. As a word and as a concept, speciesism is not yet a part of the public discourse. In an effort to help animals, however, social justice groups are working to change that, employing creative methods from provocative street theater to dramatic protests.

Launched just two months ago, a NYC-based organization called Collectively Free has been stopping people in their tracks with their “Swap Speciesism” events. At Meatopia, a carnivore festival where whole animals were cooked, Collectively Free turned the tables – and turned many heads – by serving samples from a whole human.

free sample meatopia


On the menu: Rack of Man, Human Chops

On the menu: Rack of Man, Human Chops

Wearing a pig mask, Kate Skwire, a Collectively Free performer, used humor to capture the attention of passing carnivores:

“You look like you’d like a piece, m’am. Are you hungry?”

“These are humanely raised, grass fed, local, happy humans.”

“Now tell me that isn’t delicious.”

“This one had a very good life. You don’t have to feel bad about eating this meat.”

The execution (of the event, not the human), was so creative that some Meatopia attendees stopped to give them props. Robert Jensen, one of the participants, said, “A few people said things like ‘I’m not vegetarian, but this is really creative.’ Others said, ‘that’s sick!’ to which we responded ‘it’s sick the other way around too.’ Then they became lost in thought.'”

Collectively Free Meatopia Reactions

Photo: Collectively Free

Another participant, Miriam Lucille, said, “I was holding a sign that says ‘Why love one but eat the other’ showing a dog and a pig, and one man looked at the sign, nodded and said, ‘That’s very true.'” A lot of people took photos because it was eye-catching, and that’s always a good thing.”

photo: Collectively Free

photo: Collectively Free

A San Francisco based group, Direct Action Everywhere, is also aiming to “Disrupt Speciesism” through dramatic and controversial actions inside of and in front of restaurants and grocery stores around the world. A video of one such protest not only went viral but also made national news. In the video, activist Kelly Atlas enters a restaurant and delivers an emotional account of her baby girl Snow, who is an injured chicken rescued from a battery cage.

In 2013, filmmaker Mark Devries made made a critically-acclaimed documentary about the issue. In Speciesism: The Movie, Animal Liberation author Peter Singer sums it up nicely: “The fact that animals are not human isn’t a reason to give less consideration to their interests.”

Humans might be more powerful than other species, but we are far from superior. In fact, because we are the only species that is destroying the planet, some might argue that we are inferior.

Your Turn

To learn more about and get involved in the provocative #DisruptSpeciesism and #SwapSpeciesism campaigns, please visit Direct Action Everywhere and Collectively Free.

Filed under: Food, Opinion
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