Fight or Flight Tour: Houston workshop and Delta Board Home Demo

As soon as we arrived in Houston, we were quickly exposed to the region’s range of radical activity. Greeted by the very supportive and gracious folks of Tar Sands Blockade, we learned of a number of protests and actions that were set to occur over the weekend that reflect the diversity of activism that calls Houston home.

Earlier on Friday, anti-immigration groups protested the Mexican Consulate in response to a national call from the “Anti-Amnesty” movement. In response, FamiliasInmigrantes y Estudiantes en la Lucha (FIEL Houston), a migrant justice group, organized a large counter-protest that outnumbered anti-immigration protesters about 100 to 20. The same confrontation was set for Saturday, and the Fight or Flight Tour was prepared to make a show of solidarity with migrants. But by the time that we arrived, anti-immigration protesters had failed to make a showing, perhaps due to their overwhelming opposition, and the migrant solidarity counter-protest had been called off in victory.

That same morning, over 60 activists from surrounding areas boarderswarmed at the US-Mexican border across from the McAllen Border Patrol Station in McAllen, Texas. Those activists were there to show their support for the some 57,000 Latin American children that have been detained this year by Border Patrol agents. We sent our love and solidarity to those caravanning from Houston to stand on the front-lines at the border.

solidarity houston[Photo courtesy of Melanie Scruggs of Zero Waste Houston]

That evening we presented a workshop at the Solidarity Houston space, a collectively-run community space that provides resources for counter-oppression organizations. Solidarity Houston also IMG_20140719_193835_931maintains a radical lending library, Sedition Books. Those in attendance represented a variety of backgrounds and worked with organizations such as Tar Sands Blockade, Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Service, Zero Waste Houston, and Southwest Defense Network. Due to the variety of backgrounds, we had a very productive discussion about building strategic campaigns and the importance of coalitions and solidarity work for grassroots activists.

After the workshop activists headed to the home of William H. 72961Easter III, aka Bill Easter, for a home demonstration. Bill is on the Board of Directors for Delta Air Lines and is a key player and decision maker for Delta. The event was held at Easter’s home in Piney Point Village, a city within Houston, TX that is one of the wealthiest cities within the state with a mean household income of $197,090 a year.

On top of being a Director for Delta, Bill is also a Director for Concho Resources, Inc. and has had his hands in the gas and oil extraction industry for decades profiting off the destruction of the environment and the workers he exploited.

easterhouse[Activist talking with Delta board member Bill Easter]

The demonstration began with activists going to Bill’s door to speak with him and give him information about Delta’s involvement in transporting animals to laboratories to be experimented on through their partnership with Air France. Bill was aware of Air France’s participation in the vivisection industry but denied Delta’s involvement in the practices, stating, “This is Air France’s problem, not Delta’s.” This is the first time we have received any response from a Delta representative denying their involvement; Bill chose to ignore the fact that Delta Air Lines schedules, books, and profits off of every international Air France flight bringing animals into North America.

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After Bill refused to discuss Delta’s deep involvement in shipping animals to labs, activists began a noise demonstration in front of his house with bullhorns and signs while handing out flyers to his neighbors to explain Bill Easter’s role in the transportation of animals to labs and what Bill and his neighbors can do to end it.

Before the activists left Bill came outside into the street to express that he understands our cause and our concerns and will speak with Delta and Richard Anderson, but feels that we should be focusing our efforts on Air France. Our message to Bill, Richard Anderson, and Delta Air Lines is that as long as Delta has a hand in shipping animals to labs, the campaign will continue and Air France’s tarnished reputation will spill over to Delta.

The following day after we left, Students for Justice in Palestine held palastinea large solidarity demonstration, protesting Israeli state violence and the current military assault on Gaza. Around 400 protesters voices their opposition to Israel’s recent military actions in the Gaza Strip and its US financial backing. Although we couldn’t make it, we stand in solidarity with all those oppressed by brutal occupations, setter expansion, and state violence.

Our Visit to the Covance Primate Quarantine Facility

Covance is one of the largest contract animal research corporations in the world, and their Alice, Texas facility includes a primate quarantine facility that holds primates who are imported into the United States while they wait to be approved to be trucked off to laboratories where they will be tortured and killed. Since one component of the Fight or Flight Tour is to further The Bunny Alliance’s work to stop the transport of animals to laboratories, having a Covance protest made sense as a way to highlight what happens to the primates after they are transported into the United States.

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To reach Covance’s Alice facility we had to drive miles outside of any semblance of a city or town, into an area where fields of corn meet the horizon and a few farm houses are the only sign of human inhabitants. I thought about why a corporation would build a facility in such a remote location, inconvenient for employees and a long trek for deliveries. The answer seems obvious though: what Covance does to animals is something that they want hidden, placed out of sight and thus out of the minds of most people. We were approaching a facility that few humans have seen, where thousands and thousands of animals have spent endless moments of suffering and have no one to respond to their screams.

 

We drove up to the Covance facility discussing the strategic merit of the protest, and possible media coverage and messaging, but that all fell into silence and became utterly insignificant when we saw the horror behind their fences. I expected to be pulling up to a building electicfencethat hid the primates behind concrete walls; instead, the nightmare in which the primates live was shockingly visible. Standing behind a barbed wire electrified fence bearing signs that warned against bringing cameras into the facility were rows and rows of cages—at least hundreds, maybe thousands—for as far as we could see. We all went silent, and as what I was seeing sank in more, I gasped and my hand flew to my mouth. Suzanna, the dog traveling with us, started whimpering. Even she knew something was very wrong.

 We got out of the car to stand closer to the fence and look at the cages, barren and so far away from the forests from which the monkeys were kidnapped and torn away from their families. We heard a monkey scream, and I felt the cry reach inside me and tear me apart in a way that still makes me feel numb in knowing that I can’t even begin to imagine the terror that the monkeys experience—and in knowing that the terror has just begun for them. As awful and lonely as the cages look, they are a sanctuary compared to the scalpels, needles, and restraint devices that await the monkeys in laboratories. I held onto Suzanna as I listened to the screaming monkey, and I wished that my protective arms wrapped around her could be felt by all of the animals before me.

hutsFootage of the cages can be viewed by clicking here.

We hoped that in some way the monkeys knew we were there because we want them to be free from the clutches of the labsvivisection industry. What we are doing now on this tour will not save the monkeys who are currently imprisoned at Covance, but we are fighting to make sure that the nightmare stops recurring. By working to stop the transport of animals to laboratories, we are working to make it so that Covance can no longer fill its cages. We are working for the day when the cages are empty and rusting, and the grass around the cages grows up around them and the nightmare is but a haunting memory.

Media coverage of our stop at Covance:
Kiii-TV segment: Click Here
Alice Echo-News Journal article: Click Here

 

Fight or Flight Tour: Phoenix-Tucson Stop

After leaving a long and busy weekend at the Animal Rights 2014 National Conference in Los Angeles, The Fight or Flight Tour returned to the road to head to Phoenix, Arizona. The Bunny Alliance, Resistance Ecology, and Earth First! Journal met with folks from Phoenix Animal Liberation Squad, who were kind enough to help us organize this tour stop. Aside of Heart, an awesome vegan café that provides space for activist events, offered their space for the event.

Phoenix Animal Liberation Squad (PALS) is a grassroots animal liberation group founded in early 2013. Since then they have become quite active in the Phoenix area, organizing community events, film screenings, and regular protests, including protests against a local JBS slaughterhouse, the largest food processing company in the world. Currently, PALS is focusing on gearing up for a campaign against a planned but yet-to-be-built biotechnology lab that is a collaborative effort between Arizona State University and University of Arizona.

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The tour stop involved critical and in-depth discussions of strategic campaigning, research, coalition building and solidarity, as well as the ways to get plugged in to the Delta campaign and broader Gateway to Hell campaign. Additionally, folks from Chuk’son Earth First! were also in attendance. They announced the relaunching of the group and also discussed their new local campaign work and indigenous solidarity efforts. The Tucson and Phoenix area has a rich history of radical environmentalism, land defense, and animal liberation work, so it was awesome to see these two groups, PALS and Chuk’son Earth First! connect and lay the foundation for future cross-movement alliances.

Although our time in Phoenix was short, it was definitely enriched by meeting such a great community of folks working on a variety of issues surrounding animal abuse and ecological destruction. Better yet, these communities were interested in working with each other and plugging into the broader network of grassroots animal/earth liberation activists. We look forward to connecting with these groups again in the future and helping them collaborate and strategize for both local and international campaigns.

Phoenix Animal Liberation Squad Upcoming Events Calendar:

 

Thursday, July 17, 7:00pm- “Third Thursdays” Vegan Potluck with Author and Activist Sailesh Rao @ David’s House in Tempe*

Saturday, July 26, 7:00pm- JBS Slaughterhouse Protest. Meet @ Aside of Heart 6:30pm

Friday, Aug 1, 7:00pm- First Fridays march for Animals. Meet @ Aside of Heart 6:30pm

Saturday, Aug 9, 7:00pm- Chick Fil A Protest @ 1601 E. Camelback Rd.

*for directions contact

PALSactivism@gmail.com

RSVP for Events on Facebook or Meetup.com

Phoenix Animal Liberation Squad

Fight or Flight Tour Dallas- Fort Worth Wrap-Up

We began our day in the Dallas-Fort Worth area with a demo at the Air Transport International (ATI) offices in Irving, Texas. ATI uses cargo planes to transport primates from China to the US to be used in laboratory experiments. Last month a shipment of monkeys was delivered to Houston, Texas,  and the group Animal Connection of Texas (ACT) responded with a protest at the ATI Irving office. ACT was founded in 1986 and has a long and rich history of grassroots animal activism and was an integral part of the global SHAC campaign.

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The July 17 demo organized by the Fight or Flight Tour and ACT brought over 25 protesters to ATI’s front door with another lively demonstration. Though the building is currently in use by ATI, there were no cars parked in front and the day’s mail was still piled up at the door. It appeared as if ATI knew we were coming and decided to IMG_20140717_153838abandon their work for the day. The demo began with activists approaching the door to the offices, ringing and knocking in an attempt to speak with the employees inside. When there was no response, activists lined up along the street, holding signs and chanting through megaphones. As workers from adjacent offices made their way into the parking lot to see what was going on, the property manager expressed frustration with the noise we were making. We suggested that if he wants a return to peace and quiet he should tell ATI to stop transporting animals, or evict them from the property.

DCIM100GOPRO

ATI/ABX Air is scheduled to deliver 1,800 monkeys to Houston for Charles River Laboratories in the next couple of weeks. We hope people around the country will speak out and show their opposition to this torturous event. We’ll update our tour page when we have more details on the delivery.

After the demonstration, activists convened nearby for a workshop 10494592_913105388703522_1606299817840549408_non the ATI/ABX and Delta-Air France campaigns, as well as a discussion on coalition building and a “know your rights” training. Members of  ACT also shared about their campaigns against Ringling Brothers Circus, Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo, and an upcoming event against the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act—of which we were especially excited because of recent events. Keep an eye on ACT’s facebook page for more information on these campaigns and upcoming protests.

Also attending the demo and workshop were members of Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance, Resist ALEC, Cross Timbers Earth First! and Tar Sands Blockade. After a discussion about intersectionality and cross-movement organizing an activist with Resist ALEC mentioned a rally against the American Legislative Exchange Council’s annual meeting in Dallas happening at the end of the month. We hope lots of Texans will make it out to oppose this corrupt institution of corporate-controlled legislation.

Before heading towards San Antonio the next morning, we drove to FMC Carswell, the prison where political prisoner Marius Mason is locked in solitary confinement for his earth liberation actions. We held “Free Marius Mason” and “Fight for Liberation” signs in solidarity with his work in defense of animals and the planet. There is currently a campaign to move Marius out of the isolating and psychologically torturous conditions at FMC Carswell. See supportmariusmason.org for more information.

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The Fight or Flight Tour at the Animal Rights 2014 National Conference

This past weekend, the Fight or Flight Tour landed at the Animal Rights 2014 National Conference in Los Angeles, CA. The Bunny Alliance, Resistance Ecology, and the Earth First! Journal all tabled throughout the conference in the exhibition hall, which was filled with the tables of animal rights groups from across the country and visited by over 1,000 conference attendees from all over the world. Both the attendees as well as other exhibitors and speakers were all very supportive of the work of all the groups, and people were especially excited to ask us about the Fight or Flight Tour and find out if it’s coming to their city.

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During the conference, Bunny Alliance co-founder Amanda Schemkes spoke on a panel about advocating for primates, along with Michael Budkie of Stop Animal Exploitation Now, Bob Ingersoll of Project Nim, and Shirley McGreal of the International Primate Protection League. As her contribution to the panel, Amanda spoke about the Gateway to Hell network, the Bunny Alliance’s campaign against Delta Air Lines and the Fight or Flight Tour, and our dedication to working for an end to the exploitation of animals in labs. She also showed our Fight or Flight Tour video, which moved several audience members to tears. We were excited that the room filled with people—many even sitting on the floor or standing—who were interested in learning about how to end the use of primates in labs, as well as to see that the work of The Bunny Alliance was met with loud applause and cheers. Amanda also spoke briefly during the closing plenary about the work that we are doing this summer on the Fight or Flight Tour, as well as about our support for activists Tyler Lang and Kevin Olliff who were recently indicted under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act.

On the Monday of the conference, attendees were able to board a bus that took them first to SAEN’s demonstration at UCLA to highlight the university’s cruel treatment of animals in its labs, and then the bus drove everyone to LAX for a Bunny Alliance 1891247_10202465358500191_6828848158922143249_nprotest against Delta Air Lines. About 80 people attended the protest and filled Delta’s terminal with chants and the overwhelming message of asking Delta to help bring an end to partner Air France’s involvement in transporting animals to labs. Activists stood both inside and outside the terminal, and all of Delta’s customers who were arriving for their flights saw the protest and many told us that they wish they had known about Delta’s role in animal cruelty before booking their flights—next time they’ll be flying with another airline.

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The international animal rights community, airline customers, and the general public are appalled by Air France’s and Delta’s continued facilitation of the torture of primates, dogs, and other animals, and it’s time for the airlines to realize that vivisection is outdated and unethical “science.”

International Weekend of Action Against Air France report-backs!

Gateway to Hell organized an International Weekend of Action against Air France and the transportation of animals to labs for July 5th-6th, when activists took action all over the world.

On July 5th, Rocky Mountain Animal Defense Alliance held a demonstration at the Denver International Airport to protest Delta Air Line’s continued partnership with Air France, the last remaining 10500253_823063917706122_1907857450952774126_ncommercial airline to continue to transport animals to labs. Many travelers were disgusted by the practices of Air France and shocked to learn that Delta Air Lines is still involved in the transportation of animals to labs. RMADA led chants targeted about Delta Air Lines and was also able to establish contact with a sympathetic Delta employee who was eager to contact management about Delta’s role in ensuring  that animals are sent to labs all over the world. A number of new activists were at the demonstration and are excited to get more involved and keep the pressure on Delta in Denver with the RMADA.

In Los Angeles, activists with The Bunny Alliance and Empty Cages Los Angeles held a demonstration at the Tom Bradley International 10393685_823760210969826_5577803909384274643_nTerminal at LAX as part of the week of action targeting Air France. The activists were outside of the doors that led into the Air France ticketing counter handing out flyers to every international traveler going into the airport. Chants of “Stop the torture, stop the pain! Air France is to blame!” could be heard throughout the airport and inside the terminal where Air France customers were checking their baggage and getting their tickets.

On the same day, in Toronto, Canada, activists went to the Toronto Pearson International Airport to pass out leaflets about Air France’s practices of shipping animals to labs and Delta Air Line’s 10478126_10101959468721260_8074042294031925462_ninvolvement and complacence in doing so. The activists handed out hundreds of leaflets at the Air France Terminal and placed them in the automated Air France ticket machines, in every baggage cart in the terminal, inside newspaper stands, and at the ticket counter before making their way to the Delta Terminal to educate travelers and Delta customers about their relationship with Air France. The activists were even able to leaflet an Air France flight as it arrived at the terminal, making sure every person leaving the gate was handed a leaflet.

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The Bunny Alliance was able to make a presence at two Air Souffrance demonstrations in Paris with the “Fight for Liberation Banner” that features red and black anti-fascist flags. The afternoon of action started at the avenue de l’Opéra Air France agency and finished at the Edmond Rostand. The full Paris report-back can be seen here and here.

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With activists speaking out all over the world, it is only a matter of time before the public and Air France’s executives understand that animal testing is not a reliable science and that it is a deadend road that contributes to the loss of life of humans and animals.

Until all are free,

The Bunny Alliance

Delta Airlines Demo at LAX during the Animal Rights National Conference

AR demo banner
Join The Bunny Alliance during the Animal Rights 2014 National Conference for a protest against the transport of animals to labs! Coordinated transport from the conference to the protest will be available, with details announced closer to the conference. We encourage all conference goers (and others!) to attend and make this a powerful protest for the animals! Details are in the AR Conference program. If you are not attending the conference please meet us at the airport.

lax
DATE: July 14th, 2014

Time: 3:00pm

LOCATION: Delta Terminal 5 at LAX

CONTACT: thebunnyalliance@riseup.net

NOTE: Signs and flyers will be provided; you just need to show up!

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