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Archive for November, 2010

day one report-back.

So I just returned from my first day outside the Tulane Health Sciences Center, and I have to say, all in all, it was a success! About twelve people came to support throughout the day, and I exhausted all 200 of my flyers. By tomorrow all the workers in the building and their grandmothers should know who I am and what I’m doing out there. By the first week, well…We’ll be embracing and sharing our deepest secrets! We received a few scathing words (my favorite being “Grow up!” — too funny! ), as is to be expected while demonstrating, but we also received encouragement from workers and passersby. More than a few interesting folks, I have to say.

Here’s the dillio: This coming Friday will be a “potluck day” from noon till one out on the sidewalk. Come out to the CBD and eat lunch with me! Bring snacks (vegan, please!), a boom box, your Naughty By Nature and Tribe Called Quest CDs, whatever’s clever! Dazzle me with your culinary delights! So it’s offish: Potluck at noon on Friday at 1430 Tulane Ave. Wooooo!!!!!

Keep those eyes peeled for more “events” going on throughout the month.  And remember: any day — and I mean any day — you can come out, for any amount of time between 11am and 3pm (gosh, that’s a long time!), would be very much appreciated. Otherwise I will be a sad and lonely little boy out on the sidewalk all day. You don’t want that, now, do you? Well, do you?!

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t minus two hours

It is 9am, and I am readying myself for the beginning of this campaign. I hope you will join me when you can, and I hope that we can create something meaningful and inspiring here in New Orleans.

Also, I am compiling a list of activities to do over the course of my 30-day project. I figure 4 hours every day times 30 days equals a lot of opportunity to do outreach and speak to the community.

I’ve been thinking of ways to make the demos interesting and dynamic. For example, depending on how these first days go, I plan on screening a radical animal rights film on the sidewalk with a projector. I am also collaborating with a firend to try to get a mobile screenprinting workshop out there so we can teach people how to make their own anti-vivisection posters, and then give them away. A vegan picnic is another I’m kicking around. An afternoon writing to political prisoners is another.

If you have any ideas about what could make the days more diverse and exciting, please write me at 30daysforanimals@gmail.com.

I will be writing the first day’s report-back, so stay tuned.

-for liberation-

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for britches

I’d like to post a video I saw a few years ago, which laid the foundations for why I am doing this campaign and which has stayed with me ever since.  If animal experimentation feels like an abstract issue to you, then I would like to ask you to watch this video. I hope it can move you as strongly as it did me.

This is the the compiled footage of a 1985 raid at the University of California, Riverside, where an infant monkey named Britches was rescued in the night by the Animal Liberation Front. It not only shows the horrofic conditions and trauma of Britches’ ordeal, but it also beautifully details his recovery and rehabilitation by his rescuers. 

 (It bears noting that going into a lab to rescue one animal is a crime punishable by imprisonment, and the 16 members who rescued Britches are considered by the government part of one of the greatest “domestic terrorist threats” in the U.S.; yet the experiments like the ones done on Britches and other animals is not considered against the law — and the experimenters are not considered terrorists.)

(It has copyrighted music, so just click the link and watch it on the ol’ YouTube. Sorry.)

There are so many stories which we will never know, so many lives condemned to suffering within these scientific death camps. It pains me beyond measurable articulation to imagine the millions upon millions of Britches out there who never saw the light of day, whose rescuers never came. It is for these amazing beings that I embark on this campaign — because they didn’t and don’t deserve even a fraction of the pain visited upon them.

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a narrative

As the date of the November 29th looms closer and closer, I’d like to use these blog posts as a space to provide more context as to the motivations behind 30 Days For Laboratory Animals.

Five summers ago, while surfing the web looking at bands’ Myspace pages, I happened upon a video that would alter the course of my life. That video was called “Meet Your Meat,” a hauntingly detailed look inside modern factory farms and slaughterhouses, where the assembly-line mass murder of billions of animals takes place. I saw footage of pigs in pens so small they couldn’t even turn around being beaten by famers; chickens being “debeaked” with a knife so they wouldn’t peck each other under such stressful conditions; and cows strung upside down and writhing as their throats were cut, one by one…Soon enough, having no longer the conscience to participate in such an industry, I went vegan. 

But a greater shift not only in my conscience but also my consciousness began to take shape. Like swallowing that red pill and witnessing the truth of the Matrix, I began to feel as though I had been lied to my entire life, that the world around me had been the wool pulled over my eyes. I began reading books by Daniel Quinn and Derrick Jensen, and a realization set in — not only did our culture abuse animals, it actually abused the entire natural world and other humans, economically, politically, and psychologically. And this oppression was what our current social system is based upon.I saw the context of colonialism (now known as global capitalism), patriarchy, racism, environmental destruction, and even domestic abuse as products of our insane culture of violence. But the video images I saw of those animals inside factories — and later, inside research laboratories — haunted me most of all. 

For the past few years, I have asked myself what I was going to do to help these animals and to dismantle the system that propagates their exploitation. And each night I would go to sleep with the knowledge that in essence I had done nothing. For a long time I felt so powerless and isolated, wondering how on earth I could ever resist fully enough to help topple their prisons without facing the wrath of the State like so many comrades today and through the ages. 

So I never did act. But slowly and gradually I began to realize that this paralysis, this epidemic of inaction, was precisely what those in power wanted. They wanted me to take the guilt of animal exploitation out on myself instead of those culpable in it. They wanted me to wallow in an assumed state of powerless, of fear, believing no amount of protest could ever disrupt their status quo.

Then I began to take a closer look at examples of resistance throughout history, and recognized that no liberation movement ever happened overnight. That even in the face of complete adversity, and insurmountable odds, those with convictions and love resisted anyway — and that the power structure, like an enormous tree, while perhaps only being hacked one strike at a time, would one day fall. What I also realized was that, if I truly cared about these animals and if I truly wanted to see a world without vivisection, I had to think strategically about what I was going to do to to make that dream real. There was no way I could live with myself, I concluded, if I continued to be aware of the horrors of vivisection and not do anything to stop it. Making no attempt to halt the murder of your family members because you feel that the ones hurting them are bigger and stronger than you does not imply love for those being hurt.

So I’m choosing to do something — this small gesture of defiance. I’ve never been much for demonstrations, feeling they often involved more activist ego-stroking than a strategic attempt to fight back. Sometimes they even had this inverse effect of leaving me less empowered than I felt before I arrived! Yet in other cases these mediums of public dissent have helped me find my voice. So despite the seemingly futile nature of protests, I believe that protest spaces can be an effective means to build movements and networks of dissent and foster a general culture of normalized resistance. This is why the campaign is 30 days, as opposed to one.  One day outside with a sign, even with 30 or more people, is easy to ignore. But one or a few people outside every day demonstrating provides more leverage for radical change. I would like to offer outreach to people to let them know about animal exploitation in science; but more than that, I want to make those who already care about these issues more comfortable with resisting and perhaps make them feel less isolated and powerless.  I am not doing this to “demand” anything from animal abusers — at least not yet. I am doing this to let them know we are out there — and to, as a fellow comrade writes, “shatter the image of unanimous submission” to a world where their atrocities against animals exist.

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Stand & Fight

Across the ages of liberation struggles, those who contested their ruling orders’ abuses have endured public indifference, ridicule, and scorn. Many have even faced harassment, beatings, long prison sentences or lost their lives. Yet we see time and time again that — through the struggles of those willing to take a stand — those dreams which in their day seemed “unrealistic” or implausible have become the reality we today take for granted. And we see history absolve and commemorate those once condemned and imprisoned. Prior to the 1940s, for instance, the idea of holding leaders accountable for mass murder was dismissed as an absurd premise; yet only a few years after a young law student named Raphael Lemkin coined the phrase “genocide,” the UN established a law against such an act — and a few decades later individuals from around the world began confronting it, from Bosnia to Cambodia, Rwanda to Iraq. When Russian tanks invaded Czechoslovakia in August of 1968 in order to tighten the Soviet regime’s totalitarian grip, only seven individuals spoke out against the government’s actions in Moscow’s Red Square — and subsequently all received labor camp sentences; but their actions didn’t go unnoticed, and only 23 years after this meager demonstration — as 100,000 took to the streets — the Soviet regime collapsed.

Stop Huntington Animal Cruelty campaigns to close down notorious animal abusers Huntington Life Sciences. Another prime example of a small group of individuals combatting injustice evolving into an international campaign. A giant corporation that seemed untouchable, yet which -- through crafty and persistent pressure put on them and their clients -- is now facing the prospect of closure. The fight continues

It is no more outrageous to dream of a world without vivisection, and to demand animal liberation, than it was for past generations to dream of a world without state-sanctioned segregation or mob lynchings. We can, and must, work toward winning animals their rights and freedom, just as we work toward abolishing the prison-industrial complex, dismantling global capitalism and war economies, recovering from patriarchy, and fighting all insidious forms of domination. We have much work yet to do.

“Stand with me. Stand and fight. I am one, and we would be two. Two more might join and we would be four. When four more join, we will be eight. We will be eight people fighting whom others will join. And then more people. And more. Stand and fight.” –Derrick Jensen


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