Viewing entries tagged
storytelling

Her Name was Trixie - Why We're Asking for #DogMeatPlease

Her Name was Trixie - Why We're Asking for #DogMeatPlease

By Wilson Wong

I grew up in Malaysia, and, unlike most of my cousins, I didn't grow up in a family filled with many siblings. I only really had one big sister. Her name was Trixie.

Trixie was a large, powerful German Shepherd. I call her my big sister because she was my big sister. She saw herself as every bit a guardian to me as did my parents. My mother still recalls proudly the one time my grandmother was babysitting me (both of my parents were out at that time): my grandmother decided that she wanted to take me on a walk, so she picked me up and moved towards the door. Trixie immediately tensed up, started circling Grandma, and growled whenever she took a step too close to the door.

To Trixie, my grandmother was effectively a stranger— a stranger who was taking her baby brother away. So she did what any big sister would do.

Like many people, my memories of my early childhood days are fuzzy at best. However, one memory always stuck out vibrantly: the day Trixie died. It was Labor Day in Malaysia— all of the vets were closed, and despite my mother's best efforts, she couldn't save her. Trixie died in my mother's arms, and I watched my mother sob into Trixie's neck until her body went stiff. It was a confusing day for me, seeing death for the first time, but I understood enough to know how much my mom so deeply loved Trixie, and what a big loss to my family her death meant.

Ever since, my mother loved all dogs of all kinds. She often preferred the company of dogs to humans— “At least you always know exactly where you stand with dogs,” she’d say. When we moved to Dubai, my mother (and I, occasionally) volunteered at a dog shelter for almost a decade.  She worked hard to nurse back to life dogs who had been left to die in deserts, to regain trust in dogs who had every reason to distrust humans, and to find new homes for dogs who have only known at best apathy, and at worse violence.

It may come as a rude shock, then, that my mother had eaten dog in her childhood. A large fraction of my family did.

This explains why this month's action theme, #DogMeatPlease, is particularly dear to me. For forever, I've watched as the West fumed at people just like me in the East for killing the wrong kinds of animals, all while the West not only kills an unfathomable number of animals but also leads the way in designing quicker, more efficient ways of killing and dismembering the “right kinds” of animals.

So this month, we take it back. This month, we disrupt Western establishments serving the “right kinds” of animals, by asking for the “wrong kinds.” This month, we ask for #DogMeatPlease.

Let's expose the hypocrisy in being outraged at the murder of lions like Cecil and the dogs at Yulin, while being completely indifferent to the murder of countless cows, pigs, chickens and fish.

PS: My mom is now a vegan, and has been for several years.

First-Ever DxE Demo in Mexico City

First-Ever DxE Demo in Mexico City

By Saryta Rodriguez and Juan Carlos Fraga

 

En Julio 2015, la primera demostración de DXE en la Ciudad de México se llevo a cabo. Al enterarse de esta emocionante noticia, me acerqué a la activista con sede en México - Ciudad Juan Carlos Fraga para más detalles. Este fue un evento verdaderamente inspirador, y es un placer para mí compartir puntos de vista de Juan Carlos con ustedes. Disfrute! (Y muchisimas gracias, Juan Carlos!)

In July 2015, the first-ever DxE demo in Mexico City took place. Upon hearing this exciting news, I reached out to Mexico-City-based activist Juan Carlos Fraga for details. This was a truly inspiring event, and it is my pleasure to share Juan Carlos’s insights with you. Enjoy! (And many thanks, Juan Carlos!)

SR: Dondes estaban? (Where were you?)

JC: La acción se llevo a cabo en el centro de la ciudad en una calle en la que hay mucha gente y hay más de 10 restaurantes de comida rápida que venden cuerpos de animales como comida. Logramos hacer la acción en 12 lugares en algunos desde afuera y en otros entrando, estos lugares eran KFC, Mc Donalds, Burger King, Pizzas Hut, Carl's Junior y otros menos conocidos.

The action took place in the city’s center, on a street where there are many people, as well as over ten fast-food restaurants that sell animals’ bodies as food. We ultimately performed the action in 12 locations— some outside and some inside. These places included a KFC, a McDonalds, a Burger King, a Pizza Hut, a Carl's Junior and other lesser-known restaurant chains.

Left to right: Sujeto X, Jelly Mizery, Pako, Nut, Laura, Nelly, Perla, Marce, Fany, Kitty, and two more amazing activists!

Left to right: Sujeto X, Jelly Mizery, Pako, Nut, Laura, Nelly, Perla, Marce, Fany, Kitty, and two more amazing activists!

SR: Cuantos gentes llegaron para participar? (How many people showed up to participate?)

JC: Esperabamos ser menos, pero fuimos muchos— un poco más de 30 personas!

We expected to be few, but wound up being many— just over 30 people!

SR: ¿Cómo la gente viendo reaccionan? Aggresivo? Simpático? Confundido? (How did the people watching react? Aggresively? Sympathetically? Confusedly?)

JC: Algunas personas nos ignoraron e hicieron como que no nos escuchaban, pero fue muy buena la experiencia en un restaurant muy pequeño con solo 4 mesas en el que al terminar, las personas se quedaron muy pensativas y nos aplaudían cuando nos fuimos. En un Burger King, cuando el personal de seguridad intentaba sacarnos una señora les dijo que no nos sacaran que nos dejaran terminar. Lo que fue una experiencia muy buena, y además la señora logró que el policía dejará de molestarnos y nos dejara terminar el speech por lo que, en general, la actitud de la gente fue muy buena, ya que nuestra actitud hacia ellos en todo momento también lo fue. Esperamos haber dejado un mensaje que no olvidarán y que ojalá tomen en cuenta la siguiente vez que van a comer.

Some people ignored us and acted as though they were not listening to us, but we had a great experience in a very small restaurant with only 4 tables in which, at the end, people were very thoughtful and applauded us as we left. In a Burger King, when security personnel tried to kick us out, a lady told them not to do so and to let us finish. It was a very good experience, and the lady also convinced the police stop bothering us and let us finish our speech. So, in general, the attitude of the people was very good, and our attitude towards them at all times was also. We hope to have left a message they will not forget and will hopefully take into account the next time they go to eat.

SR: ¿Qué dijeron la gente que hablaron por los animales? (What did the people who gave speak-outs say?)

Read speak outs here.

SR: Comos te sentiste durante el evento? (How did you feel during the event?)

JC: Al principio me daba un poco de miedo sobre lo que podría hacer el personal de seguridad con nosotros, pero después de que lo hicimos por primera vez fue más fácil. Cometimos muchos errores que seguramente en las siguientes acciones iremos corrigiendo, muchos errores en el speak out pero cada vez los estaremos diciendo mejor!

At first I was a little scared about what security might do to us, but after the first disruption it was easier. We made many mistakes that we will surely correct in future demonstrations, many errors in the speak-out but each time we said it, it got better and better! 

Left to right: Laura, Juan Carlos, Nut, Mimi, Nelly, Kitty

Left to right: Laura, Juan Carlos, Nut, Mimi, Nelly, Kitty

SR: ¿Hay algo más que te gustaría compartir con nosotros acerca de su experiencia? (Is there anything else you’d like to share with us about your experience?)

JC: Me encanta DxE, y también me encanta el compromiso de cada uno de los activistas que he conocido. Me encanta el compromiso de Kitty. Sin ella, y sin el apoyo de Wotko Tristan, ninguna de las acciones que hemos echo habría sido posible. Otros activistas como Chris Van Breen y Priya Sawhney han sido una gran inspiración para nosotros y para quienes quieren unirse a DxE en México D.F. Me encanta también la comunidad que DxE promueve sin importar que tan lejos estemos o nuestras diferencias, siempre y cuando creamos en la justicia y en los derechos para todos los animales. Quiero conocerlos a todos!

I love DxE, and I love the commitment of every one of the activists that I have met in it. I love Kitty’s [Kitty Jones’s] commitment. Without her, and without the support of Wotko Cristan, none of the actions we did would have been posible. Other activists such as Chris Van Breen and Priya Sawhney have been a huge inspiration to us and and for those who want to join DxE Mexico City. I also love the community that DxE promotes: No matter how far apart we are, or how different we are, as long as we believe in justice and rights for all animals. I would like to get to know all of them!

Why Disrupt? (Video)

DxE's Araceli Rodriguez dragged off of stage after disrupting Chris Christie's talk in Iowa. 

DxE's Araceli Rodriguez dragged off of stage after disrupting Chris Christie's talk in Iowa. 

Why Disrupt? (Video)

In light of the recent Chris Christie disruption, many people are asking, "Why disrupt?" 

DxE Organizer Wayne Hsiung sets out reasons that disruption has been key to every effective movement for social justice. This talk will show how disruption provokes attention, reshapes norms, and ultimately helps us build a stronger movement for animals.

Note: This talk was recorded in 2014. 

Confronting Chris Christie for the Animals

By Matt Johnson

On August 22, 2015, a group of Direct Action Everywhere activists questioned presidential candidate and Big Ag ally Chris Christie during a Q & A session at the Iowa State Fair.  Their question: Why torture and kill some animals, such as pigs, while respecting others as family, such as dogs?  The activists then took to the stage with a banner and a message of animal liberation, and were promptly removed by state patrol officers.  The action received nationwide press and has breathed life into an area not known for animal activism.  Below, one of the activists, Matt Johnson, shares his story.

11952673_1044576578906024_3112596237762288073_o.jpg

I vividly remember the sinking realization that I was eating the body of an animal at age four.   I left that sandwich on my plate, one bite consumed.  I later told my family that I didn’t want to eat animals— not “meat” or “venison,” but individuals who wanted to live. 

With the best of intentions, people around me consistently reinforced notions that God gave us animals for food and that not consuming animals leads to both physical weakness and generalized poor health.  It seems Big Ag’s insidious misinformation was even more pervasive before the Internet came along.

I settled on vegetarianism, without knowing of such a word.  I was unsure of how to explain my unusual dietary choice, or even if my motivations ultimately made sense.  I felt ashamed, and took major steps to keep this secret.  I attended the same school district from kindergarten through high school, yet even my closest friends never knew.

As an adult, I came to recognize the grasp of conformity and propaganda.  By consuming eggs and breast milk, I was supporting the same ugly, oppressive machine that fuels the consumption of animals’ bodies.  20+ years a vegetarian, I finally cut out the rest of the injustice.  As I did more research, I quickly concluded that mere non-participation was not enough.  Action is what’s required.

Organizing in Iowa with DxE has been a rewarding learning experience.  Animal agriculture is widely regarded as a wholesome and noble pursuit, with its ugly reality kept comfortably out-of-sight.  There are those who side with the victims, yet it is challenging to inspire confident dissent in a setting in which most have family and/or friend ties to animal exploitation. 

I was intrigued when I saw Zach Groff’s disruption of US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.  He had been governor in Iowa and is a major ally of Big Ag.  Zach and I stayed in contact, weighing the idea of a similar disruption in Iowa, which sees lots of political traffic during presidential campaigns.  Chris Christie, also a high-profile villain to animals, was to speak at the Iowa State Fair, which is basically a giant celebration of animal exploitation.

We decided we had to act, and we quickly hammered out a plan.  In the days prior to the event, I had trouble sleeping, feeling both worry and excitement.  Vanessa stepped up to help, but we had no other activists to work with locally.  We then resorted to activists from greater distances: Araceli Rodriguez, Aaron Feigen, and Darla Juergens dropped everything at the last minute and drove through the night to make this happen.  Their dedication is a true inspiration. 

We arrived at the fair around 7:00 AM in advance of Christie’s 11:00 speech.  We secured our front-row seats.  Over the next few anxious hours, we stayed in constant contact via text messaging, working out every detail.  When Christie finally came out, he surprised us by forgoing a speech in favor of a question-and-answer session.  I immediately thought back to Zach's questioning of Tom Vilsack.  Similarly, I was presented a great opportunity to make a connection by telling an animal’s story before the disruption and inevitable hostility.

When the time was right, I took a deep breath and raised my hand.  Per Zach’s insight, I had prepared a “Christie 2016” sign, which I proudly presented with the pleasant smile of a loyal supporter to call on.  (In the video, you see Christie hesitate when he first looks at me, then points to me.)

As I confronted this violent person, my voice shook a bit, and I initially had to avoid eye contact to keep my bearings.  I delivered my lines, which I had rehearsed hundreds of times.  I was actually a bit relieved when he cut me off, as I didn’t really have a coherent question in mind.  Then the others joined me flawlessly as we followed through with the disruption.  The officers seemed confused at our satisfaction as they walked us out of the fair.  (One accused us of “trying to wrap (Christie) up with the banner”.  We couldn’t help but drop the “respectfully decline to answer questions” script, and laughed involuntarily.  We informed them that such was not our objective and that we have plenty of cameras to back us up.)

With the support of this network and determined fellow activists, the Christie disruption has grabbed massive media attention, bringing our message to tens of millions around the world.  I know that we will use this momentum to fuel bigger and bolder things.

Looking back, I consider the four year-old version of myself a personal hero.  Doing a public demonstration in an unwelcoming setting is made much easier with the unwavering knowledge that you are on the side of justice, and of history.  Knowledge I lacked for many years.

We can all find our voice.

A DxE Convert

A DxE Convert

By Leslie Goldberg

 

I really didn’t know what to make of the DxE video I was watching: Animal rights activists marching into restaurants and yelling their heads off about animals who wanted to live and how “meat” isn’t food, it’s violence. The activist/troublemakers usually held AR signs and stony expressions. The restaurant customers looked amused, embarrassed or annoyed. The staff? Angry, then frazzled.

As an animal rights activist myself, generally of the polite variety, I was intrigued, but also intimidated— especially when I’d see a DxE video of someone going into a restaurant alone and starting to shout. I said to myself, I COULD NEVER DO THAT. My husband said, “YOU’D BETTER NOT DO THAT.”

I live close to a Nations Giant Hamburgers, a KFC, a Jack ’n’ the Box and a Burger King – so many opportunities, I thought. But no, I can’t. I just can’t.

Weeks passed and still I kept wondering about DxE. I’d check out the notices on Facebook for Direction Action Everywhere Meetups, held on Saturday mornings at the DxE House in Oakland.

The DxE House. I had a picture in my mind – White frame house, falling apart, in a rough part of Oakland. My imaginary house was kind of modeled after the left-wing nut Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) “safe house” in San Francisco, where fugitive Patty Hearst was hiding, hoping to evade arrest for a bank robbery in which she’d participated. In my fantasy DxE House, unsavory characters hung out on the steps in the front or inside in a sort of trashed-out living room with stained and broken-down couches.

No way, no how would I go there. The ‘60s are over and these days, troublesome animal rights activists end up in federal prison.

Still, something nagged at me. I asked around. Pretty much everyone said, DxE? No, they’re making things worse for our cause. We need to be good vegan examples instead.

Then I emailed one of the most sensible, logical, respectable and respected vegans I know. She’s been around for a long time. She’s an author, a public speaker and volunteers helping homeless people: “What do you think about DxE?” I wrote.

“I love DxE,” she wrote back. “It seems like they’re the only ones talking about the ‘humane meat’ thing.”

 “Oh...really?” 

I told my husband I was going to the DxE Meetup in Oakland and if he wanted to come too, that would be awesome. He gave in.

We went.

Arriving at a sleek, modern high rise in Jack London Square, with some kind of yuppified fitness place on the ground floor next door, I thought, This can’t be right. Where are my scary dudes hanging around outside? The unmarked cop cars? Marijuana smoke wafting through the air?

The DxE house is, I’m kind of sorry to say, an appallingly normal apartment. That morning it was filled with 25 or so UC-Berkeley-student types visiting with each other, having coffee and doughnuts. (Yes, they have chocolate and coconut.) Somebody was grinding away on a Vita-Mix, making smoothies. There was no vague smell of pot or last night’s beer in the air. Instead, there was laughter. Wholesome laughter.

Two dogs— an old, old black one, Natalie, and a light brown pit with a crooked tail, Lisa— were wandering around. Supposedly two cats live there, too, but I didn’t see them.

I found out that each DxE Meetup usually consists of watching an inspirational protest video and doing a “community-building” exercise. The exercise can be as low-key as people pairing up to introduce themselves or as structured as the whole group holding a long pole (horizontally) with two fingers and trying, in unison, to slowly lower it to the floor. (It helps to close your eyes and concentrate, otherwise the thing flies way up in the air.)

After that, three volunteers give five-minute presentations. I liked it. I had fun. I met people. I learned stuff. My husband liked it, too.

At my first DxE meeting back in April, I was told there would be a protest in San Francisco the following week and asked, would I go? Before I gave myself a chance to get scared, I said yes. The “Would (I) go?” question sounded to me like “are you a person who walks the walk or just talks the talk?” (I know, I know, I have an over-developed sense of responsibility, as well as an over-developed sense of pride.)

I showed up, and I survived the protest. Not just survived— I was inspired by the experience, and by the other activists. I felt empowered. I’ve since participated in many more protests. I think I’m up to 18 now.

I was probably born to be an activist. I grew up in the South at a time when the Civil Rights Movement was taking off. My father was an activist Episcopal priest and took significant risks both to himself and to our family by speaking out against segregation in our small town of Stuttgart, Arkansas.

Having lived through the Viet Nam War, I understand in my bones the necessity of protest when there is injustice. I also understand that you don’t necessarily see immediate success or progress by protesting. Drawing attention and kicking up a fuss matters. Unfortunately, I think it’s the only thing that makes people realize you’re serious.

But one cannot be serious all the time. (Yes, even while animals are suffering.)

One DxE member said to me, “We think the Meetups are just as important as the protests, maybe even more important. We’ve got to build our community.”

So today, I skipped the restaurant protest and just went to the Meetup. The community- building exercise was this game involving numbers on a white board. Since numbers, especially mystery sequences of numbers, generally scare me, I pretended to be interested and stayed quiet.

The three presentations were: “How to Be in the World” by Margaret, “DxE Women’s Liberation Group” by Maryam, and “How I Became an Activist”.

Margaret, a relative newcomer to DxE, shared her conundrum with the group. She has four friends who get together for a monthly brunch at a non-vegan restaurant. One of the friends never misses a chance to order bacon. Recently this same friend wrote a FB post about the “joy” of eating animals, including the innards of lambs. Margaret commented online that she felt sad for the lamb. The next thing she knew, felt attacked by the bacon-eater, who demanded to know why she would write such a thing.