Animal Rights Activist Profile: Jackie Lawrence
What inspired you to first get involved with activism and to join DxE?
After being vegan for a little over a year, I felt like I had to do more for the animals. I initially got involved in two local animal rights groups in Minneapolis, Minnesota. When I moved out to the Bay Area in November of 2014, my partner Jason and I were looking for activism groups to get involved with and found that DxE was having a "No Thanksgiving" potluck. We really didn't know anyone when we moved here, so we were both a little nervous about going, especially since we had first been exposed to DxE through a Youtube video that was criticizing DxE's action at a restaurant. We decided to just go check it out for ourselves and really felt welcomed and intrigued by the sense of community and the ideas around animal liberation.
What is your favorite or most accomplished moment in activism or other DxE activity?
During the convergence last year, we did a singing action inside Westfield Mall. At the end of the demonstration, everyone else around me did a die-in, and I was left standing by myself holding a sign while wearing a bloody shirt and mask. I then led chants through the mall until we got outside. I was very nervous since I don't generally like public speaking or having attention centered on me, but I felt very empowered in the moment knowing that I had the support of a hundred activists behind me. And most importantly, rescuing animals during Open Rescue. It gives me great hope taking animals out of places of violence and offering them the chance to live the life they deserve, free from harm and torture.
Are you involved in any affiliate or working groups in your chapter and if so, how does this influence your activism?
I am involved in Open Rescue, Connections Working Group, and Social Media (video editing), Women Against Speciesism, and Animal Liberationists of Color, although most of my time is spent on Connections. I think community building has been a strong suit for DxE and the reason why we have maintained a solid group of activists who not only do actions together, but hang out together outside of actions. It was one of the reasons why I joined DxE. Being a part of these working groups has helped me step up as a leader and challenged me to develop new skills that will contribute to activism in effective ways.
How has open rescue influenced your activism?
Being present with all that suffering, witnessing all those animals living in horrific conditions, and living with the pain that I couldn't rescue all the animals motivates me to do activism daily. I realize that this system of violence is not going to change in one day, but working towards animal liberation every day is creating change in ways we don't always see.
What advice would you give to new activists?
Get involved! There is a place for everyone in the animal rights movement. Each person has unique skills and interests and individual experiences and perspectives that can be applied to activism. Don't let your fear around certain actions deter you away from doing activism. If you don't like doing certain things, you don't have to! I also think our minds often change around ideas for tactics. Like I said in the first question, I was skeptical of some of DxE tactics initially.
Why Animal Liberation?
We want to create a world where every animal, regardless of species, can live without being subjected to violence. To feel safe to go out into the world without having to worry about being confined or violated in any way. To be valued just for being you.