By JR, Special for Diversity News Magazine
It was a historical night on Monday, September 19, 2011 when around 1:30am (early Tuesday morning) West Hollywood voted unanimously to be the first city in the world to become “Fur Free.”
Business owners, residents and people from other cities spoke out about the ordinance that bans the sale of fur. Although the city authorities have to refine the ordinance, it will be good to go within in the coming weeks.
Animal advocates and supporters celebrated the moment with cheers, high fives, smiles and hugs. The ban is the first of it’s kind in the nation, prohibiting the sales of fur clothing. For now, the sales of fur accessories and leather items are still allowed.
During the meeting, around 60 people stepped up to the podium to speak. Attorney Steven J. Bernheim said, “Free consumer choice has limits. For example, you can no longer be able to order foie gras, because it’s been deemed too cruel. For example, you can’t watch cock fighting any longer. Those are the reasons why you should pass this ordinance.” Jean Dobrin, a 36 year resident of West Hollywood said she was “horrified” by the selling of fur and went on to say, “Stella, the daughter of Paul McCartney won’t sell one speck of fur in her store. If I told you the method of killing these animals, you would be revolted.” She continued, “When I learned 20 years ago that they kill foxes by inserting an electrical charge in their anus, how would you like that? “
On the opposing side, Ester Ban made a good point, “No one has mentioned leather shoes, leather bags. Why not? They just don’t like fur.” She went on to say, “I don’t tell you what to wear, I don’t think you should tell me or the rest of the citizens to wear” She said that she didn’t believe that animals were killed inhumanly. She said it was “stupid” and just a “tactic trying to scare people like a horror film.” Hecklers from the opposing view clapped in support and were heard saying “lies, it’s all staged, they don’t do the to animals.” A few times during the heated discussion, the gavel rang out to keep the session in order.
Matt Rosell stated he went undercover for 4 months at a fox farm in Illinois and assured the audience that he saw “500 killed by anal electrocution.” He said “The public has a right to know what really happens to these animals. The fur industry is only able to sell these products by not sharing these facts.” Mary Cummins, president of animal advocates who rescues wildlife, stated that she had an “educational raccoon” that she almost brought to the meeting who loves to play with dog toys and watches tv. She pleaded, “I can assure you that they feel pain and sadness just like our cats and dogs. An animal is a living, breathing being. “
Retailers expressed their concerns stating that they could “lose 15% or more” of their revenue. To this, hit recording artist Fawn responded in a matter of fact tone, “Banning smoking in restaurants, has not stopped people from going to restaurants. 15% is not that big of a loss, compared to the loss of a life. There are plenty of alternatives that look like real fur.” She continued to say “I’m part of the entertainment industry, where fashion is at the fore front. Fashion is important for what I do. If West Hollywood continues to sell fur products, I will not shop here any more.” Fawn commented on the fact that President Obama would be visiting West Hollywood this coming Monday, and pointed out, “The First Lady Michelle Obama, refuses to wear fur.” Fawn proclaimed that “fear” was leading people to oppose the ban and used Rosa Parks as an example of overcoming fear. She asserted, “When Rosa Parks said no to the back of the bus, she was afraid, but stood up because it was the right thing to do. The thing about it is we have a choice. I ask that we make the right choice for humanity. West Hollywood leads, it doesn’t follow.”
Shannon Keith, Animal Rights attorney and award-winning producer of “Skin Trade,” affirmed, “I have seen undercover footage of what goes on, on fur farms” She said she went “door to door” to speak to business owners in West Hollywood and when they were shown the footage, they actually took the fur products off their shelves themselves.” She continued to say, “People are concerned about their sales, but what concerns us it the right not to torture animals.”
Ellen Lavinthal, one of the leaders of Fur Free West Hollywood said “It’s just the beginning of what’s to come in the humane treatment of animals and how we view fashion.”
Ed Buck, another leader of Fur Free West Hollywood stated, “West Hollywood is just more than this city, we are a beacon – the city on the hill and when we do something here, it does reverberate around the country and around the world. This is a reverberation that will be felt around the world.”
About Fur Free Weho Campaign:
Each year more than 50 million animals are killed for fur, whether raised in factory farm-like conditions or trapped in the wild. Recent investigations also show domestic dogs and cats are killed for fur, especially fur trim on garments imported from China, often improperly labeled “faux.” Last month, President Obama signed the Truth in Fur Labeling Act to require all real animal fur to be correctly labeled.
In 1989, West Hollywood passed Resolution Number 558 proclaiming the city a “Cruelty Free Zone for Animals.” The fur-free WeHo campaign makes good on the city’s promise.
“West Hollywood has the opportunity to once again be a leader for animal welfare by becoming the first Fur Free city in the nation,” said campaign supporter D’Amico. “We have pledged to be a place that is free of cruelty to animals and we can no longer support the barbaric fur trade by selling the products of that cruelty in our city.”
“This frivolous luxury can be stopped with consumer and civic action,” said campaign leader Ellen Lavinthal. “This will be another historic campaign showing the nation that West Hollywood is a leader in the protection of animal citizens.”
Photos credit to: http://wehonews.com, Gary Smith
Over 250 Animals Right Activists Take Action To Make West Hollywood The First Fur Free City in the USA
On Saturday, January 29, 2011 over 250 animal rights activists and concerned citizens, young and old stood side by side in the Matthew Shephard Memorial Triangle Park on the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Crescent Heights in West Hollywood, California to rally for a fur-free West Hollywood.
With this ground-breaking action, the City of West Hollywood could become the first completely fur free city in the United States, leading as an example for the rest of the world to follow. The progressive city of “WeHo” was the first town to pass an anti-declaw bill and all out ban on live pet sales in the nation. With WeHo referring to human companions of animals as “guardians” instead of the past term, “owners,” it’s no wonder that they would make this unprecedented move to have an entirely fur free environment. Award winning director and animal rights attorney Shannon Keith said “in 1989 West Hollywood signed a resolution to make an animal cruelty-free zone, and it can’t be an animal cruelty-free zone unless they stop the selling of fur.”
To help make this happen, John D’Amico has stepped up to the plate, supporting the fur free message in his campaign for West Hollywood City Council. He is going to focus on this legislation while in office and be a continual advocate for a fur free world. He said that “West Hollywood has the opportunity to once again be a leader for animal welfare by becoming the first fur-free city in the nation.” D’Amico continued, “We have pledged to be a place that is free of cruelty to animals and we can no longer support the barbaric fur trade by selling the products of that cruelty in our city.”
Ed Buck, one of the organizers of “Fur Free WeHo,” said “This campaign is not just about banning fur but promoting West Hollywood as the capital of fur-free fashion, especially in its boutique district that includes a Stella McCartney store, which already shuns furs.” Buck was instrumental in helping get the ordinance passed which bans the sale of puppy mill animals in pet stores.
The initiative would make West Hollywood the first fur-free community in the United States and possibly the world. Hit Recording Artist Fawn commented “West Hollywood has always been a city ahead of it’s time, and the time is NOW to stop killing helpless and loving animals for their fur. The vanity of the fashion industry is utter insanity. People who wear real fur and even some faux furs have blood on their hands.”
Fawn walked through the crowd and streets, turning heads and hearts with a stark reminder written on a double-sided sign, adorned over her stunning rescued white wolf dog Coda, which read “15 of me = 1 fur coat” and “My father died for your fur coat.” When resident Deanne Sire saw the sign, she said “I guess I never thought of my fur having been a living being and having had a dad.”
Actor Bill McNamara stated “Fur is definitely something we need to abolish, there is no reason that anybody today, in America needs to wear fur. It symbolized meanness of spirit. There is no other reason to wear it.”
New York Times Best Selling Author, Rory Freedman agreed with McNamera, sporting a shirt which read “Mean People Wear Fur.” Freedman explained, “Amongst other horrors, animals killed for their fur are subject to neck-breaking, strangulation, drowning, and anal or vaginal electrocution. Some are even skinned alive. All this so people with low self esteem can wear this shit and someone can make a few bucks selling it? Totally unacceptable and completely unnecessary.” She added, “I am thrilled that John D’Amico is making this issue his running platform and that West Hollywood can set a precedent for other cities to follow. Real change is not only possible, it’s imminent.”
Lords Of Acid vocalist Lacey Conner declared “The fur industry will never make itself humane and the only way to stop the fur industry is to make it go out of business.” She continue, “Don’t buy fur, if no one bought fur, the fur industry would go out of business and this mistreatment would not happen. I’m just asking people to please take a few minutes to to find out what is really going on.”
Film Producer Shannon Keith pointed out, “We have an election coming up on March 8th and it’s a great time to vote for the candidate that has a platform against fur. Once we get those candidates in place in city council, we will be able to move forward with this.”
“This is not about punishment or shame, it’s about really thinking creatively about how we live in the world and taking action and stopping the barbaric actions of harvesting fur, and really looking at who we are as individuals and as a people and West Hollywood is a great place for this to start.” Concluded Candidate John D’Amico.
To find out more go to www.ourWEHO.com, www.arme.tv and www.uncagedfilms.com
Photos courtesy & (C) 2011 by Brenda Calvillo, Ciddy Fonteboa, Gary Smith, Gene Blalock, Vicki Melton, Mary Cummins and FFD Images.
Editor’s Note: JR, Special Writer/Correspondent contributed to this story. Also story first published on January 30, 2011 on Examiner.com at http://www.examiner.com/events-in-los-angeles/over-250-animals-right-activists-take-action-to-make-weho-fur-free-city-usa
Writer’s Corner: How do you feel about FUR. Do you like animals to be killed in pain? Many farms are killing the animals alive in a brutal way. They take away their skin to make clothes for us and make a profit? How do you feel about it? Please leave your comments.