Stories to Inspire Part 1
These stories first appeared in a series of emails sent to DxE supporters in a countdown to 2022. The stories recap some of our biggest achievements in 2021, and also shine a light on some of the little details that don’t usually get the appreciation they deserve. We hope you find them as inspiring as we do.
“We appreciate what he did, but we could not get over the law.”
The law seems so black and white at times. You’re guilty or you’re not; there is no in between. And in that respect, we lost our case in North Carolina. Wayne was found guilty of felony breaking or entering and felony larceny for rescuing a sick baby goat named Rain from a goat meat farm.
But these cases are about so much more than just the verdict. A member of our legal team had the opportunity to talk to one of the jurors in this case after the trial and she said that everyone was open-minded about the action and appreciated Wayne’s passion, and that the case had a significant impact on the jury. One juror even announced to the group that they were no longer going to eat meat after hearing Wayne’s testimony.
I noticed a change in the judge throughout the trial as well. As the case progressed, he started referring to Rain as “Rain” and “the animal” rather than an object or item. When he denied Wayne’s request to use the necessity defense, he felt compelled to explain that this didn’t mean he didn’t love animals or care about them. When the case concluded, the prosecutor even gave Wayne a hug. We’re in a tough position where the law says one thing (that animals are property), but the will of the people says otherwise. The judge and jury felt they had no choice but to follow the law and convict, but it appears they did so with hesitation.
It’s probably going to take a lot of tries before we have our major victory in court, but even when the verdict doesn’t go in our favor, these trials are having transformative effects on the courtroom, the surrounding communities, and even the nation. In 2022, with several animal rescue cases going to trial, we will once again have an opportunity to make our case in the courtroom.
“That was the coolest protest I’ve ever been to!”
Sometimes it feels impossible to predict what is going to go viral on social media, especially with TikTok trends that come and go faster than I can keep up. But the potential is there. And with the right piece of content at the right time, you can get a message of animal rights in front of millions of eyeballs.
So when one of our organizers put forth the idea of replicating Squid Game - the most watched series on Netflix ever - as a protest, our team was intrigued. But we were also a little skeptical. Could we really recreate a scene from a TV show with a $20 million budget with about $1000 and no professional actors? And how could we do it fast enough so that the show was still trending by the time the protest happened? It could go really poorly and be pretty embarrassing, but it could also be awesome. We were ready to take the risk.
Bring in the creative team! They built a 16-foot tall girl out of cardboard, using real fabric for her clothes, and gave her a revolving head using a dowel. They reached out to community members to build 30 3D cow masks out of cardstock using Wintercroft’s design, and used duct tape to alter teal outfits from Target. They spray-painted white biosecurity suits pink and stuck In-N-Out logos on plastic hockey masks. They cut the soundtrack from the show and added our own updated animal rights messaging over top. The props looked amazing.
I was still a little nervous about how we actually would pull off the protest with a bunch of grassroots activists and no real dress rehearsal before we “performed” in public. But it worked! Everyone played their role beautifully and our action drew crowds of people from the streets of San Francisco. Almost everyone had their phone out filming. Not only did we get press coverage locally, we were in multiple outlets in South Korea, and across Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok, our protest received millions of views. One of the “cows” was at a staff meeting the following Monday and heard her boss talking about how he saw the coolest protest ever over the weekend, so she was able to talk to the whole team about the message behind the action.
With creativity, a willingness to take risks, and some brilliant prop designers, we can insert our narrative into the cultural zeitgeist and build momentum for our movement. Thank you for always supporting us along the way. What pop culture trend do you think we should harness next?
Antonelle broke out of her comfort zone, and you can too.
Research shows that the animal rights movement is almost guaranteed to win if we can mobilize 3.5% of the population to take nonviolent direct action. Over 30% of US Americans believe that animals should have the same rights as humans, so it really should not be that difficult to get just a few percent to take action.
In reality though, it can be hard to speak up. Antonelle knows this all too well. This is her story:
“As far as I can remember, I’ve dealt with anxiety and it has held me back. It would cause me to lose sleep, feel sick to my stomach, and not be able to eat that day because my nerves were so unbearable. It wasn't that I didn't want to attend activism events, I was just scared to integrate myself into DxE which was a much bigger community than I was used to. But the urgency I felt to fight for animals became bigger than my fears. I knew that I wanted to do way more than what I was currently doing so I decided I had to take the first step.
For me, this was buying a ticket to ALC 2021. I wouldn't have the guts to go if I didn't at least try to go to smaller events before that, so I went to my first meetup ever at the end of August 2021. Little did I know that would lead to me doing so many things out of my comfort zone in so little time. In September, I shared my personal story at a meetup. In November, I joined a working group and also lead chants on the megaphone for the first time. This month, I gave my first speakout, something I never thought I would be able to do. Sometime soon, I will officially become an organizer.
The reason I've been able to grow as a person and an activist in such a short amount of time is because DxE is the most welcoming and encouraging community I have ever been a part of. I owe it to every single person in DxE that has welcomed me and has pushed me to become the activist I know I can be. So if anxiety is holding you back or you feel like something is stopping you from being the activist you want to be, I want you to know that you can do anything you put your mind to! I'm glad I was able to get past my fears and get to a place where I can fight as hard as I can for animals.”
There are so many stories like Antonelle’s out there. And yes, they’re not as flashy as a big protest or factory farm investigation, but empowering, supporting, and training activists is at the heart of what we do. In 2021, we hosted hundreds of outreach events, community gatherings, and trainings, and we’ll continue to do so next year in order to grow our movement, because that is how we are going to change the world.
I’d love to hear how you have stepped out of your comfort zone to help animals or how you might be willing to do so in 2022. And I still have six more inspiring stories to share in Parts 2 and 3 of this blog.