Animal cruelty victims were mourned at a peaceful protest outside a local fur boutique in Brookline last Saturday.
I.J. Fox, Harris, and Klaff fur shop was the site of the demonstration by Massachusetts Animal Rights Coalition (MARC.) MARC is a local non-profit organization dedicated to campaigning against fur and all other animal-related industries. The five-year-old group braved the cold to stand outside the store in the usual territory stomped by the designer stilettos of wealthy clientele, armed only with handmade signs.
Not everyone, however, believes the use of fur should be banned.
“There are so many other things to be protesting that are worthwhile. For that matter, I am entirely against PETA and their tactics. Focus on what really matters: AIDS, world hunger, nuclear proliferation,” said Amanda, a 2008 Boston University graduate who refused to reveal her surname. Helen Rayshick, who organized the protest along with her husband, assumed “in most cases they [fur-wearers] don’t understand” or they are “angry people who just don’t care.” The couple regularly works with MARC in Boston-area.
“I like to indulge myself in different ways. I guess it all stems from a fur coat I was given as a little girl. I remember being at department stores and always going to the fur section and admiring all the coats.” Although she adores fur, Amanda admitted, “I do not know the province of any fur that I own or the methods or slaughter.” Sadie Howe, another recent Boston University graduate, had a similar nostalgic attachment with fur.
“I have a vintage coat with fur trim and a fur hat. I guess I bought them for their ‘unique’ qualities…I’d only buy something fur that’s vintage or antique –nothing new, because I am conscious of how the fur industry works. I think that the inhumane treatment of animals for the production of one industry is a tragedy,” Howe said.
“I am familiar with mass slaughter techniques and I condone them…I grew up in farmland,” fur-wearer Rivekka Goehner commented, “there was a respect between the farmer and the animals raised to be eaten.”
“We’re a legal, peaceful group,” said Rayshick, who turned activist after working as a scientist seeing first-hand the unjust treatment of animals. She has been a dissident for eighteen years. She explained that protesting is one of their many stages for change, including public speaking, working with local student groups, running advertisements, and testifying against law proposals. “I find that being peaceful is advantageous to the animals; we treat people with respect” –Rayshick claimed the response they usually receive is just as civil: “when they learn you’re a local group they respect you a lot more.” MARC refuses to utilize the stereotypical tactics of smothering fur-wearers with thick, red paint and bombarding them with flour bombs. Helen observed that younger activists tend to harbor anger, resulting in her theory that “anger takes away energy that could be used towards the animals.”
Inside the trendy Beacon Street store, manager Paul Hatzipetrou, who has been working in the fur business for twenty-five years, responded by stating: “People want what they can’t have. It’s fashionable, they see it on the runways.” Hatzipetrou’s coworker, Doe DeLuca who agreed more designers each year are using fur in their glamorous Parisian runway shows. When asked if they believed wearing fur was unethical on the slightest scale, they assured that the industry is government regulated. Hatzipetrou even went as far to claim “people raise them for this purpose, every part of the animal is used.”
Propaganda on behalf of the protestors portray a grim and unsettling image of the animals the public use for fur garments, a flyer read: “Fur stores have been peddling animal torture for over one-hundred years. We say that is an obscene amount of animal cruelty. Selling and/or wearing fur is inherently cruel whether the fur comes from farmed or wild animals.” The leaflet goes on to state: “They are killed by anal or vaginal electrocution, stomping, having their necks broken…” However, Hatzipetrou and DeLuca refuted these methods. “I have been to a mink farm and they get gassed, gas puts them to sleep. They don’t just electrocute them from their behinds, that damaged the skin and fur” DeLuca said. The origin of most of the fur that is sold in I.J. Fox, Harris, and Klaff is from the U.S. and Scandinavia. Despite the current civil disobedience, Hatzipetrou claimed there has been no trouble with the protestors: “the last ten years has been quiet.”
Despite opposing views from avid fur-condoners and their lack of explosive reaction, MARC still received communal support. “You guys are the best –you’re always out here on the coldest days,” said a passionate passerby.
MARC is scheduled to stage an additional protest of the sale of fur garments at I.J. Fox, Harris, and Klaff this Saturday, February 7th.