about accusations against direct action everywhere (dxe)
Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) is an open, grassroots network that has inspired thousands of activists to take action for animals in over 30 countries and saved dozens of animals from nightmarish abuse. In the process, we’ve gained an incredible following and put pressure on corporations like Whole Foods, Costco, and even the Chinese government (which arrested and deported three of our activists for saving Oliver, a dog from Yulin) to stop torturing animals.
First and foremost, DxE is about building a community that will help animals. It is a network of people who have joined together for a common cause, a goal which all activists believe will be attained. The community DxE has built around the message of achieving animal liberation spans the globe and has empowered activists in ways they themselves would never have imagined.
Our assertive efforts in support of animals have, however, created a motivated body of detractors. Some of these are probably well-intentioned people who have real disagreements about tactics. Others may be corporate infiltrators whose only goal is to smear the reputation of the animal rights movement. See, for example, the scrutiny faced by companies like Uber and Whole Foods, whose corporate security departments (including former CIA agents) made concerted efforts to tarnish activist adversaries. Most troublingly, some may even be federal agents, who have a long history of trying to sow discord in movements, including animal rights activists.
Contrary to some of the detractors' claims, DxE is a decentralized network that encourages both dissent and democracy. For example:
- Many of the most important strategic decisions in DxE’s history, including the name of our new community center, were made by democratic vote pursuant to chapter bylaws. Veteran organizers have routinely been outvoted by new members.
- DxE actively encourages internal disagreement. For example, when we recently made a large shift towards focusing our attention on major urban areas, we hosted an open discussion between folks in the network who disagreed with the proposal.
- DxE actively engages with individuals with dramatically different ethical or strategic perspectives. For example, many of DxE’s founders have great working relationships with senior staff at Farm Sanctuary, HSUS, and PETA.
- DxE focuses on emergent leadership, meaning that leadership is assessed by how much our organizers are supporting and empowering the people around them, not taking power for themselves.
Many of the attacks against DxE come from a small number of individuals, formerly loosely involved with DxE, who were asked to depart from DxE spaces due to sexual harassment, assault, and other misconduct. A number of women in DxE sent a cease and desist letter when the individuals who were removed responded with further harassment and even violent threats.
DxE takes every instance of misconduct with utmost seriousness. We have a conflict resolution policy and committee that has addressed every reported violation of our values to protect victims and survivors. We have focused on restorative justice and followed the survivors’ lead in all instances, including removal of any wrongdoing parties from the network. (See, e.g., the statement of Heather Graham.)
Attacks against DxE have continued, mostly by anonymous individuals, including doxing, online bullying, and even threats of physical violence. However, DxE organizers continue to be open to any dialogue to resolve conflict. While the vast majority of the animal rights movement has shown us incredible support -- animal rights leaders from Ingrid Newkirk at PETA to Bruce Friedrich (formerly Farm Sanctuary, currently Good Food Institute) have publicly vouched for our organizers’ integrity -- we continue to do our best to start constructive dialogue in the face of conflict.
The DxE movement is inspired by the principles of openness and nonviolence. We hope we can live up to those principles not just in our public-facing activism but in our movement's internal conflicts.