On Saturday, February 11, 2012, During the high-profile Grammy Awards weekend, and just 2 hours before Whitney Houston was found dead at age 48 at the Beverly Hills Hilton less than 2 miles away, a large mass of 150+ anti-fur protestors dressed in funeral clothing surrounded the trendy Maxfield boutique located at 8825 Melrose Avenue in the city of West Hollywood, CA 90069.
Organized by Fur Free West Hollywood, which is spear-headed by Animal Alliance’s Ellen Lavinthal, the protest was publicized all over popular social websites including Facebook and Twitter. Lavinthal explained that she was given a personal promise from Maxfield owner Tommy Perse that the fur in his store would be removed early, however shortly after she left, the fur magically re-appeared. Lavinthal stated, “There were five fur coats in there yesterday. They broke their word, so we are here today to show them that we are watching.”
Hit recording artist Fawn commented, “If you’re going to continue to display and sell fur, after you’ve agreed to take it down, don’t lie about it! That shows a lack of integrity and if you lack integrity in your word, then what do the products you sell lack?”
Fawn said, “In this day and age, there are plenty of faux fur alternatives. Wearing real fur is cruel, pure vanity and ethically wrong.”
Agreeing with her, Lavinthal concluded, “We will be back for the Oscars, and every other major entertainment event thereafter until they keep their word.”
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Last Chance For Animals undercover investigator Bryan Monell pointed out, “While Maxfield lied, more animals died,” a sentiment several protestors began to shout “While Maxfield Lies, They Die,” and “Maxfield Lied, They Died.” Other activists bellowed “Boycott Maxfield” and one participant yelled about dogs and cats being skinned alive in China for fur, as people walked by. One of those people happened to be virtuoso guitarist Nils Lofgren, best known for playing with Bruce Springsteen in the E Street Band, Crazy Horse and Grin.
All in all, it was a calm, civil and somber protest with participants wearing long faces, black veils and carrying gruesome signs with photos of animals skinned alive – an unfortunate reminder of what goes on in the fur industry. Animal rights activist Patty Shenker said, “It’s deplorable what is done to these sentient beings, and all for vanity! Only frigid women wear fur!”
A ‘funeral procession’ with protestors completely cloaked in black, holding black signs and wearing black veils traveled up and down the streets frequented by many celebrity clientele such as Mary Kate and Ashley Olson, Madonna, Johnny Depp, Prince, Adam Lambert and Faux-fur friendly Pamela Anderson.
West Hollywood is known for being a “city of compassion” with several historic laws passed, such as the recent decision of West Hollywood becoming the first Fur Free city in the United States (taking effect September 2013), the ban on the declawing of cats, the sale of animals in pet stores, and the distinct classification of pets no longer being “property” but being referred to as “companion animals.”
Among the protestors were Religious leaders Rabbi Jonathan Klein and Michael Mata, a minister with the National Evangelical Latino Organization. Klein and Mata are part of the ‘Faith Action for Animals’ and hope to bring faith and animal rights together for ethical reasons. Klein explained that up until the days of Noah, people were eating a “plant based” diet, quoting one of the 10 commandments, “though shalt not kill.” He continued, “All creation, all life is precious and valuable.”
According to protest co-organizer Ed Buck, when the Fur Free West Hollywood campaign began last year, Maxfield which is known for it’s unusual, eclectic and extravagant merchandise, agreed to remove all fur items from their store, joining other West Hollywood stores that also volunteered to ‘take down early’ such as H, Lorenzo, The Pleasure Chest, and Zadig & Voltaire on Sunset Plaza.
Eleven years old Stella Lavinthal said, “Out of all the stores that agreed to remove their fur early, Maxfield was the only one that said they would and didn’t. What’s up with that? They lied, so we’re here today to let them know that it’s not okay to lie.”