In Florida, the Fight or Flight Tour met up with South Florida Smash HLS. The day began with a demonstration at the DHL Global Forwarding office (located at 1200 S Pine Island Rd, Plantation, FL) to bring attention to DHL’s relationship with Air Transport Services Group (ATSG) and ABX Air, the only airline transporting primates from China and Southeast Asia to laboratories in North America. This demonstration was planned on a day when Joe Hete, President and CEO of ATSG and CEO of ABX Air, and Quint O. Turner, Chief Financial Officer of ATSG, were meeting with DHL Aviation Vice President Red Alexander, further showing DHL’s close relationship with ATSG/ABX Air and those who are directly responsible for the shipments of primates to labs.
While at the DHL office, activists attempted to meet with Bea Garcia, Director of Media Relations, and Jennifer L. Pakradooni, Director of Communications Americas, but neither were willing to come down from their offices to speak with activists. Additionally, security refused to contact Hete or Turner, so activists held a demonstration outside of the office during a rainstorm. Protesters gave information to DHL employees who were leaving the building and who were horrified to learn that their employer does business with one of the last remaining airlines carrying primates to their deaths, and even more horrified that the men responsible for the shipments were inside the DHL office.
Later in the day, activists held a protest at the Worldwide Primates quarantine facility in Miami-Dade County. When primates are transported into the U.S., this facility (like Covance) is one of the places that they are taken for quarantine until shipped off to laboratories. The primates sit in barren outdoor cages, wrapped by a fence that shielded them from our sight but that couldn’t keep us from hearing their cries. With voices loud enough for the primates to hear—as well as John Resuta and other employees inside the facility—activists chanted and spoke of how we will bring awareness to this facility and not stop working for the primates inside until the facility closes forever.
We wrapped up the day with a workshop at the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida space, where we discussed the state of animal rights and environmental activism in South Florida. With local activists, we talked through ways to build grassroots activism in the region and possible ways for the community to strengthen itself in the wake of State repression.
On that note, Christian, one of the Smash HLS 9 activists who were arrested last October during a protest at the same Worldwide Primates facility, begins his trial on July 31. He is the last of the Smash HLS 9 activists still facing charges, and needs your support. There will be a rally in support of Christian and against state repression on the first morning of the trial. Find out more here.