Viewing entries in
West Coast Tour 2014

DxE West Coast Action Tour - Part Two // Salem and Portland

DxE West Coast Action Tour

Part Two // Salem and Portland

by Ronnie Rose

 

DxE embarked on a journey across the West Coast on a three-week-long speaking and action tour. Starting in the San Francisco Bay Area, we took the tour up north, through California, Oregon, Washington and Canada, before heading back south to finish at the National Animal Rights Conference in Los Angeles. At each stop, we gave a short presentation and engaged with local activists, with an aim at strengthening bonds between, and building an empowered network within, the animal rights community. The days following the presentation, we collectively planned and executed actions at places of violence.

Read part one here.

--------------------

We headed North from Sacramento and drove toward the thick, picturesque pines of the Pacific Northwest. We passed through wide valleys of tall mountains, where the air felt fresh, and saw translucent and crisp rivers rolling across the earth’s bed. The visceral impact of the sights and sounds and smells encouraged our journey.

Salem was our second stop on the tour. This isn’t a city you necessarily think of when you conjure up the state of Oregon. As my friend who helped organize this part of the tour said, most people view Salem as the halfway point between Eugene and Portland, and consequently, don’t consider stopping. Yet places like Salem are exactly the areas that DxE hopes to rouse and inspire—places where calls for the recognition of animal rights are an uncommon encounter. Needless to say, doing activism without a community to stand with you is tough. The activist who helped us organize a demo in Salem was grateful for us coming through, and we were equally grateful to them for hosting us.

Only a short distance from Salem was our third stop, Portland. We had coordinated this part of the tour so that we could pick up our friend Darren Chang, who would join us in presentations and actions at a few locations up north. Darren is a core organizer of DxE’s demos in Vancouver, Canada, and also organizes with a myriad of other groups. He had come down to Portland to speak at the Resistance Ecology conference with Rising Tide Vancouver on the issue of indigenous solidarity. At the conference, Darren and his team discussed the role and steps that settlers can take while organizing as allies with indigenous communities.

We had planned a few demos while in Portland, but had difficulties finding a location to speak at. Yet within two days of our arrival, we came into contact with an activist named Katie, who eagerly sought out and organized a wonderful location for us to present at. Katie, who is an intelligent and passionate activist, also had similar struggles organizing in Portland. Though she had been born and raised in this city, and active for quite a while, she explained that in a place regularly touted as a vegan’s haven, it was difficult to inspire people to come out to demos. Katie hoped that our presentation and actions would provide a spark of motivation, for her and for others, to build up a consistent and active community.

This part of the tour reminded me why we were on the road, and more broadly, why we started DxE: we are here to build a movement. Sometimes it starts small, but we are here to connect people, to inspire people, and to take activism from the fringes of society and bring it into the hearts and minds of the public, so that the debate for animals’ rights can no longer be ignored. This is just the start.






We will no longer hide

Linda, a powerhouse animal rights activist at 70 years young, speaks for the animals inside a high end restaurant in Sacramento. 

Linda, a powerhouse animal rights activist at 70 years young, speaks for the animals inside a high end restaurant in Sacramento. 

We will no longer hide

by Wayne Hsiung

I have a confession. I made it a rule over 10 years ago to stop watching animal cruelty videos. They scare me. They haunt me. And they bring me crashing down in despair. 

From an early age, I was obsessed with animals. I would make friends with squirrels and birds in the forest. I religiously read ZooBooks and everything else I could get my hands on about animals. And to this day, the best and happiest day of my life was the day when my parents finally allowed me and my sister to adopt a dog -- my first real friend of any species -- into our home. 

So when I see videos of animals being hurt, it's as if someone is hurting my dearest friends. Not just hurting them. Degrading them. Abusing them. Brutalizing them. Torturing them. And then even eating them. The scenes are so bad that it's hard to believe they are even happening. And for those of us who love, and have been loved by, animals..... when we see these scenes it's as if the entire world has turned into a nightmare. 

I was speaking to my friend Lisa recently as to what motivates us to activism. (DxE will be meeting about this next week.) And above all, for me, it is this deep feeling that something has gone deeply wrong with our society. We have seen what is happening to our friends. And it fills us with a sense of injustice that overwhelms every other feeling in our body. We see these images, these videos, and we hear their terrifying cries. "I'm filled with this sense that I've never seen anything so wrong in my life," Lisa told me. And that deep wrongfulness burns us to our very bone. 

The problem, of course, is that a fire can only burn for so long. And I stopped watching animal cruelty videos because I could see my hope fading, my cynicism growing, and my hatred for the world growing day by day. (Perhaps screening myself from such videos is part of the reason why I've stuck around for 15 years.) So it was only begrudgingly that I have begun to watch these videos again in order to make the DxE campaign videos that we hope will continue to mobilize people all over the world to action for animals. 

But there is something different this time around. I don't drown in despair when I watch, despite the fact that I have now seen more such videos in three months (heck, three days) than I had watched in the ten years prior. And the reason is... you. My despair over the nightmarish suffering of our kindred sensitive beings is met with a just as powerful collective resolve: that we will no longer hide how we feel, run to the bathroom with our tears, or make small talk in the face of catastrophic atrocities.

I see someone like my friend Linda, a 70 year old activist in Sacramento who looks half her age, speaking confidently and strongly on behalf of our brutalized friends ("This sweet mommy pig does not want to be on your dinner plate. She deserves to live!") in a place of opulence and violence, and I begin to see a path out of this nightmarish world. The nightmare still rages, to be sure, but by recognizing, and connecting with, the legions of activists ready to confront that nightmare with strong words and action, we need not fall victim to despair. We can look at the nightmare straight in the eye and say to ourselves, and to the world, "Your last days are near. We will no longer hide. And my friends will soon be safe and happy and free." 

DxE West Coast Action Tour - Part One: Sacramento

DxE West Coast Action Tour - Part One: Sacramento

by Ronnie Rose

DxE is embarking on a journey across the West Coast on a three-week-long speaking and action tour. Starting in the San Francisco Bay Area, we are taking the tour up north, through California, Oregon, Washington and Canada, before heading back south to finish at the National Animal Rights Conference in Los Angeles. At each stop, we will be giving a short presentation and engage with local activists, with an aim at strengthening bonds between, and building an empowered network within, the animal rights community. The days following the presentation, we will be collectively planning and executing actions at places of violence.

------------

The first stop of the tour took us to Sacramento, CA, where we were hosted by Adrienne Ramirez, one of the most diligent and hardworking activists I know. When I first told Adrienne about the tour, all she needed to know were the dates, and everything else she took from there! She went around looking for the perfect spot for the presentation, set up event pages on the internet, persistently promoted, and drew a great crowd.

DSC_0138.JPG

The first night we all met at the conference room Adrienne secured, and gave our presentation to a roomful of dedicated activists, both experienced and new. After the talk, everyone in the crowd asked incisive questions, full of personal stories and intellectual insight, which led to a fruitful discussion. By the end of the night, I could already sense a newfound camaraderie, deeper commitment and hope to where the movement was headed.

On the second day, we met back up at the same space, joined by some new faces that hadn’t been around the night before. Some of the folks there had participated in DxE demos in the past—as part of the monthly actions for the It’s Not Food, It’s Violence campaign — but there were also others who had never done any type of disruption before. This was their first encounter with DxE’s approach to activism. Though nervous, they also felt the need to break out of their comfort zones and bring the stories of the animals into the very places where they have been most ignored.

The first action we planned led us to an upscale restaurant, replete with references to the “humane” treatment of the animals, while simultaneously offering “veal” dishes. We entered the restaurant calmly and confidently, with over 20 activists, and held placards stating, “It’s Not Food, It’s Violence.” Three activists—Adrienne, Angel, and Linda—all held beautiful images of our nonhuman kin and took turns telling passionate stories about the devastating torment these sensitive beings have to endure, as well as painting an alternative vision—a world of species equality, a world of liberation. 

We then took our demonstration outside, to bring these stories to the surrounding, and very curious, people. After some time, we made our way to another upscale restaurant a few blocks away, where the bodies of animals were proudly served.

On our way over, we noticed that the Sacramento police had been called and started following us. This isn’t such an abnormal response, but what happened after truly was. As our demo commenced, police began swarming in droves, with lights flashing, from all different directions. They ended up blocking the street with their vehicles, which looked like a scene out of a bank heist movie. 

However, nothing happened. With a good liaison, they stayed at bay, and we finished our protest while they stuck around to observe.

We couldn’t possibly have been happier with the wonderful turnout for both days in Sacramento. Adrienne and the crew set a very high bar for the rest of the tour that might be hard for other cities to beat! If the passion of the Sacramento animal rights community is any indication of future success, I have total faith that total liberation will become a reality.