Britches and the Great Imagining

Britches and the Great Imagining

by Roxanne Galvan          As we approach World Week for Animals in Laboratories, I want us to take a few moments to remember the tragic story of Britches. In 1985, a baby macaque monkey was born in a laboratory at the University of Riverside. Shortly after, he was stripped from his mother’s care and subjected to unimaginable cruelty under the guise of ‘scientific research’. Some would prefer to call it for what it truly is: torture. Britches was forced to be the subject of a study surrounding human blindness. His fresh, tiny eyes were sewn shut with oversized sutures, such that he suffered permanent corneal damage once they were removed by his liberators. A sonar device that emitted piercing sounds was strapped to his head. The baby macaque was left alone in a small metal cage where he spent the fir st 5 weeks of his life terrified and devoid of any compassion or solace. The story of Britches has a happy ending where anonymous ALF activists, with the help of sympathetic workers within the laboratory, rescue him along with somewhere between 400-700 other animals. Dressed in white lab coats and black balaclavas, they conducted a live liberation, filming and exposing the horror lab. For Britches, we get a sigh of relief knowing he was saved from solitary confinement and spent the rest of his years in a sanctuary with an elder macaque foster mom. For the countless other animals who have died and are awaiting premature death in labs, we cannot feel that relief. Vivisection is a topic that makes almost anyone uncomfortable as they...
Year of Discord and Unity and Two Beautiful Babies Who Never Got to See 2017

Year of Discord and Unity and Two Beautiful Babies Who Never Got to See 2017

by Cory Mac a’Ghobhainn I couldn’t get the words out. I stood there, and every time I tried to form the sentence, I chocked. Those around me, listening and waiting, grew sad and quiet. They guessed what was coming, what I was trying to say. I was in a class that Art for Animals Sake offers as part of an enrichment program at Skid Row Housing Trust, an organization which “provides permanent supportive housing so that people who have experienced homelessness, prolonged extreme poverty, poor health, disabilities, mental illness and/or addiction can lead safe, stable lives in wellness.” Every week we give residents an opportunity to discuss their own experiences living in a world shared by other animals, to talk about some of the challenges we all – other species included – face in the modern world and, at the same time, to create art that reflects these connections. On this day, I was holding up a recent photo and telling the story of a little calf a mere few days old. Finally I was able to say it, “He’s dead now.” Brutal words with a bottomless amount of suffering behind them. It started on a beautiful day in November: the sun was out, and I was at an animal sanctuary in Lake Elsinore where the furred and feathered residents were reveling in cool crisp weather after a brutal summer in the parched landscape of inland SoCal. All I could think of was, “No more triple-digit temps!” The chickens were happily sand bathing, the pigs were rooting in the dirt of their yard, Rocko the llama was surveying the perimeter...
April Fool: Slapping Down the SLAPP

April Fool: Slapping Down the SLAPP

On April Fool’s Day morning in 2014, Progress for Science activists made our way to a Westwood neighborhood near UCLA in order to stand outside holding signs and handing out leaflets to a few passersby, mostly parents and nannies walking their little ones to a nearby school. We were there to show our opposition to the cruel, useless experiments being done on animals and to educate folks about the type of research that their neighbor, a UCLA vivisector, is doing with our tax money. The person we were spreading the message about was Edythe London, a professor who has for decades been carrying out forced addictions on rats and monkeys, studying the effects of substances of abuse such as drugs and tobacco on their brain functions. In one study, which wound up being an embarrassment for UCLA, London was unethically funded by the tobacco giant Phillip Morris. These activities have long made London a lightning rod for protesters in the LA area. With its formation in 2012, P4S has taken over most of the on-the-ground Edythe London campaign, using legal protest strategies such as candlelight vigils, outreach and petition drives and non-targeted picketing to maintain a public spotlight on her misuse of tax payer monies and to discourage others from following in her path. On the particular day in question, activists arrived at 7:15 am, holding signs and leafleting silently—there was no chanting at this outreach. The activists were unaware of London’s routine or whereabouts and so were surprised when, around 7:45am, London and husband Abe Wagner, appearing to be returning home from a walk, approached them with their two...
P4S Top Hits of 2015

P4S Top Hits of 2015

THE LONG GOODBYE The monkeys are still where they shouldn’t be: still far from the jungles, from the trees, the vines, the flowers, the birds, the butterflies; far from the evening breezes, the sun on their uplifted faces, the moonlight silvering their fur; still far far away from the mothers that gave them birth, from the aunties and uncles who took care of them, from the squawking sisters and brothers tumbling through the leaves, still far from homes they will never see again or, for those born in labs, homes they will never see at all. They are still in their cold neon-lit cages at the University of California but, at least, their head tormenter has flown the coop. The leaving town of drug-study vivisector David Jentsch, one of UCLA’s top money draws, was one of the big events that marked our year here at Progress for Science. It was a year of wins, of losses and of broadening horizons. Working in both Minnesota and Los Angeles we took on new campaigns and new focuses. We created new events and kept on keeping on as well. ATTACK OF THE 50 FOOT WOMAN On February 15 of last year, P4S staged one of our biggest protests ever as we orchestrated an answer to the demonstration of frothing hate that the vivisectors had backfire and bring shame upon themselves weeks before. On the one-year anniversary we returned to Edythe London’s neighborhood with our very own villain! Or rather a towering papier-mâché Edythe specially made for us by one of our talented supporters.  We have it on good authority that Ms. London was not...
Show Up and Shut Up: White Animal Activists and the Racial Justice Movement

Show Up and Shut Up: White Animal Activists and the Racial Justice Movement

By Kim Socha A Voice for the Voiced? There is a scene in Spike Lee’s 1992 docudrama Malcolm X in which Malcolm is approached by a young, blonde, white woman who lauds his work and asks what she can do to become part of the “cause.” He responds briefly by telling the eager-to-help woman that there is nothing she can do … and he stoically moves on, swatting her away as one would a fly buzzing in his ear. I always loved that scene, even back in 1992 when I wasn’t an activist of any kind. I still recall my friends and I laughing at that exchange with an attitude akin to “Take that, b*tch.” (I use the edited expletive because it honestly represents our attitudes at the time. We thought it was funny, but we certainly weren’t yet critical enough to understand why.) Over twenty years later, as an activist predominately in the animal rights/animal liberation (ARAL) movement, I have more than once found myself, as that white woman, asking people of color (POC) what I can do to help the “cause.” (Why is “cause” is quotation marks? Because one group’s “cause” is another’s daily life experiences. To me, that word has come to diminish the lived realities of the oppressed, so I prefer the terms “movement” or “struggle.”) As the questioning white woman, I have often failed as an ally within other movements, especially racial justice. I’ve put my foot in my mouth, among other figurative places, quite I few times. I’ve tried to help and wound up feeling like a fly buzzing in someone’s ear. In...