Making Fur History in Berkeley

Matt Johnson

Another week, another huge win for the animal rights community in Berkeley- this time, the unanimous passage of a bill to ban the sale of fur in Berkeley.
 


Berkeley becomes just the second city in the US to pass such a ban, following West Hollywood’s 2013 lead.  It’s the latest step in establishing Berkeley as the US leader on animal rights, just as it has led the way with many social issues throughout the city’s history.

I chatted last month with Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin and Councilman Ben Bartlett about animal issues.  Not only did they both “definitely” support a citywide ban on the sale of fur, but Bartlett went so far as to forecast a coming “ethical revolution” for animals, acknowledging Berkeley’s responsibility as the most prominent US progressive pacemaker.

Fast forward to the council deliberations, and we have the leading dissenter among councilmembers (Sophie Hahn) seemingly making a stronger case than our own community members, noting that a ban on fur implies a ban on meat by logical extension.

This is not to suggest that our work will be either quick or easy.  Our progress, which is largely the result of our growing community’s efforts going mostly unchallenged, will inevitably attract the increasing attention of the giant, entrenched corporate and government interests of big ag. They will desperately throw out everything they have to suppress dissenting voices which threaten the status quo.

But our message is growing both in reach and in clarity.  With the question of ethics and history feeling more and more like a foregone conclusion, it’s the political slugfest which must be our focus.

The legislative wins of the past week- including a renewed lease of the Berkeley Animal Rights Center in defiance of political repression- have demonstrated that the movement for animals is not only here to stay, but growing in strength, perhaps much faster than most expect.

Let’s keep fighting.

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