Every day Hollywood is the stage for a cast of characters as diverse as the city we live in: autograph-seeking, star-gazing Duluthians, Des Moinesers , and Detroiters with their eyes on the firmament under their feet and the well-shod descended from their hilltop enclaves mingle with our down-on-their-luckers, between-jobbers, and never-had-a-chancers looking for help or a handout. And on one beautiful sunny fall day they were joined by monkeys−in this case monkeys looking for a different kind of autograph, a different kind of help.
Meeting at the Sunset and Ivar vegan restaurant The Veggie Grill, a group of activists came together and donned monkey masks in order to spread the message and seek aid and understanding for our cousins trapped in the University of California system, victims of painful, unjustifiable, unnecessary and, in the end, deadly experiments. To the beat of a drum and armed with postcard petitions we set off through the streets to gather signatures for the Progress for Science petition. Addressed to the University of California Regents, the petition demands they effect action to stop the unethical and scientifically unnecessary use of nonhuman primates in experiments on their campuses and in their laboratories.
Why just monkeys?, one may well ask. While university vivisectors subject a panoply of innocent animals, which include but are not limited to rabbits, dogs and cats, to wasteful experiments using federal tax dollars, Progress for Science is seeking, as a first step towards making the University of California an ethically and fiscally responsible research institution, the cessation of those that make use of our nearest relatives, the nonhuman primates. Though the international trend is moving away from using monkeys and nonhuman apes, the UC system is one of only a handful of public education institutions still engaging in these experiments on these species. We believe that UC can be made to do the right thing as have other schools and facilties−and soon. Our ultimate goal and that of antivivisection activists the world over is that all animals are freed forever from the labs and that science turns instead towards more ethical, cost effective, as well as more advanced and effective technologies in the search for knowledge and cures.
Immediately after the petition drive that proceeded down parts of Sunset, Vine and Hollywood many of the activists then joined with the LA chapter of a sister animal-rights organization Direct Action Everywhere ,a network of animal rights activists working to challenge speciesism throughout society using creative protest to stop the use of animals for food, clothing, experimentation, and entertainment. For this action, directed at the fast food chain Chipotle to protest the company’s violence against animals and their deceptive PR tactics, DxE staged a “Die-In”at their Sunset and Vine location in addition to locations in San Francisco, San Diego, Phoenix, Chicago, and Philadelphia.
“Chipotle would like us to believe that animals killed for food are treated with kindness,” Bay Area protester Chris Van Breen has said. “In reality, this is nothing more than a marketing campaign. It’s “humane washing”: an attempt to disguise killing animals. One beef industry publication has noted that, despite its professed concern for animal welfare, Chipotle purchases meat from the same confined animal feedlot operations−factory farms−as other buyers.
These were but two events directed at bettering the lot of animals that took place on one autumn day in the city of Los Angeles. Around the world and every day there are countless more demonstrations, direct actions, rescues and outreaches where people come together to fight the rampant speciesism of our own species, to be make understood the voices of animals whose cries of pain and suffering fall on unheeding ears. Won’t you join us?