DxE West Coast Action Tour
Part Two // Salem and Portland
by Ronnie Rose
DxE embarked on a journey across the West Coast on a three-week-long speaking and action tour. Starting in the San Francisco Bay Area, we took the tour up north, through California, Oregon, Washington and Canada, before heading back south to finish at the National Animal Rights Conference in Los Angeles. At each stop, we gave a short presentation and engaged with local activists, with an aim at strengthening bonds between, and building an empowered network within, the animal rights community. The days following the presentation, we collectively planned and executed actions at places of violence.
We headed North from Sacramento and drove toward the thick, picturesque pines of the Pacific Northwest. We passed through wide valleys of tall mountains, where the air felt fresh, and saw translucent and crisp rivers rolling across the earth’s bed. The visceral impact of the sights and sounds and smells encouraged our journey.
Salem was our second stop on the tour. This isn’t a city you necessarily think of when you conjure up the state of Oregon. As my friend who helped organize this part of the tour said, most people view Salem as the halfway point between Eugene and Portland, and consequently, don’t consider stopping. Yet places like Salem are exactly the areas that DxE hopes to rouse and inspire—places where calls for the recognition of animal rights are an uncommon encounter. Needless to say, doing activism without a community to stand with you is tough. The activist who helped us organize a demo in Salem was grateful for us coming through, and we were equally grateful to them for hosting us.
Only a short distance from Salem was our third stop, Portland. We had coordinated this part of the tour so that we could pick up our friend Darren Chang, who would join us in presentations and actions at a few locations up north. Darren is a core organizer of DxE’s demos in Vancouver, Canada, and also organizes with a myriad of other groups. He had come down to Portland to speak at the Resistance Ecology conference with Rising Tide Vancouver on the issue of indigenous solidarity. At the conference, Darren and his team discussed the role and steps that settlers can take while organizing as allies with indigenous communities.
We had planned a few demos while in Portland, but had difficulties finding a location to speak at. Yet within two days of our arrival, we came into contact with an activist named Katie, who eagerly sought out and organized a wonderful location for us to present at. Katie, who is an intelligent and passionate activist, also had similar struggles organizing in Portland. Though she had been born and raised in this city, and active for quite a while, she explained that in a place regularly touted as a vegan’s haven, it was difficult to inspire people to come out to demos. Katie hoped that our presentation and actions would provide a spark of motivation, for her and for others, to build up a consistent and active community.
This part of the tour reminded me why we were on the road, and more broadly, why we started DxE: we are here to build a movement. Sometimes it starts small, but we are here to connect people, to inspire people, and to take activism from the fringes of society and bring it into the hearts and minds of the public, so that the debate for animals’ rights can no longer be ignored. This is just the start.