The Deeply Divided Los Angeles AR Scene

By Lola Kay 

Monday, October 13, 2014

I am an organizer with DxE LA, and I have shown only support in other people’s/groups’ methods of activism: leafleting, petitioning, business front protests, marches, home demos, online and phone campaigns. Whether I felt they were effective or not, I came out in support because that’s what we do. We back each other up; we stand beside other activists in a display of both solidarity and strength. I supported others regardless of their continuous bashing of our actions (despite the success of our campaigns, as evidenced by Chipotle’s slowing growth and recent press received via Glenn Beck, among other notable achievements). I believe that, especially within the deeply divided Los Angeles A.R. scene, demonstrations of unity are paramount to the progression of the movement as a whole. 

Among opposition, there are those who respectfully criticize and promote constructive dialogue; and there are those who engage in full-blown attacks riddled with name-calling, personal insults, labeling, ageism, fabrication, and so forth. Whether it’s done to draw attention to themselves or to divide the already divided movement is anyone’s guess; unfortunately, whatever the motive, this negative communication only harms those on whom we should all be focusing: non-human animals.

I have seen all sorts of claims about Direct Action Everywhere from a few people with the mentality that “If you don’t do as I say, then you are [wrong; dumb; evil; mentally unstable; “young” (perhaps meaning stupid or naive?); a loner with no friends, family or purpose in life; crazy; lazy; attention-seeking; an armchair philosopher…].”

The list goes on.

This is said about activists of all ages and all ethnic, educational and professional backgrounds. Many of those included in these insults are mothers, fathers and grandparents. We are as diverse as they come, and we are all united by our belief that animals are individuals who have the right to live without human exploitation. We believe that we can achieve animal liberation through forcing the issue of animal exploitation into the mainstream—by repositioning animal liberation as a moral imperative and not a mere diet or lifestyle choice. We believe that nonviolent direct action is necessary to achieve this goal, as it has been the epicenter of all past successful social movements. To date, activists in 66 cities and 17 countries share the same vision.

What follows are some false claims I have seen made publically regarding Direct Action Everywhere’s campaigns:

Myth: DxE only protests Chipotle. Chipotle said it will never exploit animals. Therefore, Chipotle good, DxE evil.

DxE has protested a wide variety of venues at which violence is normalized. Chipotle is the fastest-growing animal killer in the US, with over 95% of its revenue coming from the sale of cooked corpses.  The company openly mocks not only its nonhuman victims but also its customers:

“You put a tripe in a bowl and tell them it’s from a humanely raised cow, and they’re going to eat it.” —Chipotle’s Culinary Manager Nate Appleman, to The New York Times.

Myth: DxE activists go into restaurants and scream at workers and customers. 

We don’t scream at workers; they are not our targets. We empathize with the overworked, underpaid laborers, who are simply trying to support their families. We also do not yell at customers; we actually do not address anyone individually while inside. We hand out leaflets prior to and following the speak-out with which most of our demonstrations begin, so that people can understand why we are there. We simply deliver a message on behalf of those who are killed, and refrain from behaving with hostility or aggression at all times—even when, say, an employee grabs one of us by the arm or attempts to lift one of us off of his/her feet.

Myth: DxE’s Chipotle campaign is about protesting vegan options.

That is completely off base as DxE Chipotle campaign is focused on humane washing, not their vegan options. Chipotle cleverly sells their humane slaughter lie to customers who eat animals and also managed to get many A.R. people to applaud their ‘kind killing’.  But how does one humanely kill someone who doesn’t want to die?

This critique stems primarily from one LA-based man who considers vegan outreach to be the only way to enact change. He has criticized people who do not engage in organized vegan outreach events as “lazy” and “not caring.” He even criticized those who came out to court in support of Indy, a dog who was severely burned, for not coming to vegan outreach events.

For someone who calls us angry—although I believe we have every right to be angry about the fact that billions of innocent victims are being murdered for no other crime but being born non-human— this man actually physically threatened several male supporters of DxE and even one female. (At least he doesn’t discriminate based on gender…)He caused an enormous rift at the recent Global March for Elephants and Rhinos due to his aggressive behavior towards other marchers. And he has instilled in many of his supporters an active fear in participating in other groups’ protests.

The same critic is currently attacking a young kid who is struggling with a fair amount of turmoil in his life. Instead of offering words of encouragement, this self-proclaimed “street soldier” has publicly torn into him. DxE members do not discriminate against others who might be dealing with a struggle; we care about all animals, human and non-human alike, and it is a shame to see a grown man bullying someone who is already dealing with so much. We believe community is about support and encouragement; not bullying. 

DxE has attempted to clarify its position a number of times on critical social media threads, such as Facebook attacks; but all pro-DxE comments would be unashamedly deleted in order to preserve the untrue claims, in attempts to damage the network’s image.

Notwithstanding all of this, many of DxE’s organizers have repeatedly extended an olive branch.  

Anyone who would like to learn more so they can develop an informed opinion of DxE, please refer to our website, this blog and, accessible via the website, Direct Action Everywhere’s Five Organizing Principles.

Until Every Animal Is Free!