Last weekend organizers with The Bunny Alliance traveled to Cincinnati, OH, to speak at the Free The Animals Conference. Free The Animals is an annual anti-vivisection conference organized by Stop Animal Exploitation NOW! that provides attendees with tools and information to be effective advocates against animal testing and other forms of animal exploitation.
The conference opened on Friday night with a screening of Project Nim. Project Nim is a powerful documentary that follows the story of Nim, a chimpanzee who was born at a primate research center and then taken from his mother to be placed in a university language study. Eventually, Nim was sold into medical research, a tragedy that is the fate of thousands of primates every year. Through a lot of hard work on his behalf, Nim was fortunately rescued from medical research, but by the end of the screening, most people in the room were in tears. Although Project Nim offers hope, watching the film was also a reminder of all the primates who will never again see the walls outside of laboratories. The film was followed by an discussion led by Bob Ingersoll—who describes Nim as his best friend—that brought the conference attendees together in an emotional understanding of what this weekend was to be about. The conference was to be more than a schedule of speakers, but a rallying point to come together to learn to be stronger advocates for animals—with the animals being our inspiration and guiding light.
The tone that was set by the screening of Project Nim carried through the conference. Speakers and attendees went from strangers to friends, and everyone was eager to support and learn from each other. Amanda and Jordan spoke on a panel about Strategic Organizing for Effective Campaigning, and they talked about The Bunny Alliance’s work as a part of the Gateway to Hell network and the international collaboration to end the transport of animals to laboratories. The next day, Amanda and Jordan spoke on another panel, this time about Building Strategic Alliances for Successful Campaigns, and they talked about how The Bunny Alliance uses cross-country tours to build relationships with other groups—both within and outside the animal rights movement—and continued work to build a national grassroots network. Amanda then presented a “Know Your Rights” Training for Activists to help people to feel empowered in situations of dealing with law enforcement—and to not let State repression be a deterrent from being an effective activist. Finally, Amanda and Jordan talked about Organizing Effective Actions, which included information about how to think and act strategically in planning campaigns and actions so that we can effectively resist the exploitation of animals and the earth.
After the conference, SAEN and The Bunny Alliance hosted a demonstration at the ABX Air Global Headquarters. Dozens of activists from the conference gathered outside the headquarters and held signs and banners, and they took turns leading chants. People who had never led chants embraced the opportunity to do so, and they were excited to bring that energy back to their communities. The protesters decided to continue the protest for an hour longer after scheduled, a show of their commitment to holding ABX Air accountable for flying primates to labs where they are tortured and killed.
The voices of activists will continue to be in solidarity with the animals and loud in demanding an end to the transport of animals to labs, and ATSG needs to listen and get out of doing business with the bloody vivisection industry. We are working for the day when not a single primate or other animal is in a lab, and when all animals may live wild and free.
Thank you to everyone who organized, spoke at, and attended the Free The Animals Conference. We were honored to spend the weekend with you all, and we really appreciated the overwhelming show of support for The Bunny Alliance.