Will You Fight with Him?
After a daring flight and a triumphant rescue, three reasons why stories of escape and refuge are key to our movement.
by Zach Groff
After a daring escape and a wave of protests live and online, a cow named Freddie escaped death this morning for permanent refuge at Skylands Animal Sanctuary. Freddie, as reported in the New York Times yesterday, ran out of the Jamaica Archer Live Poultry and Meat Market before being cornered by the police and led by rope into the back of a truck for the slaughterhouse. Freddie had already been “purchased” and the “owners” wanted him killed to eat. Mike Stura of Skylands Animal Sanctuary was determined to see Freddie live. He parked his trailer outside and waited all night, demanding that Freddie be freed. Under the media spotlight and in the face of public outcry, Freddie got free early this morning.
On one level, the story is not all that remarkable. Another individual likely took Freddie’s fate of being killed for a human family to eat. But there are a few reasons why we need to showcase and spread stories like these.
First, the story makes a basic fact undeniable: animals want to live, and they are crying out and fighting for that right with everything they’ve got. Freddie did not run at random – he ran because he knew he was going to die. Cows and pigs frequently escape from slaughterhouses and slaughterhouse trucks. When I visited the turkey farm DxE recently investigated as workers were loading turkeys into a slaughterhouse truck, I could hear loud and clear the piercing screams of turkeys who wanted to live.
Second, the story shows us that animals are agents in the fight for their freedom, not just passive recipients of human benevolence. Animal rights often receives criticism from other movements because, unlike other activists, animal rights activists are not fighting for themselves. What Freddie made clear yesterday was that humans are not the only animal rights activists. We are not fighting for them – we are fighting with them. Those who would hurt Freddie are not fighting against us – they are fighting against him and others like him. We need to build a world where the voices and actions of animals like Freddie have as much say in our society as do humans’.
Third, the story teaches us the power of sanctuary and individual animals to change history. Freddie’s story received major international news coverage and captured public attention by drawing attention to an individual’s plight against a violent system. Sanctuaries peacefully dramatize the absurdity of the notion that police would chase down an animal like Freddie so that he could be killed for doing no wrong.
The question is not: will you fight for him? The question is: will you fight with him?