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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: East Bay | Animal Liberation | Government & Elections
Dozens of Animal Rights Activists Rush Sanders’ Stage, Demanding “Animal Liberation Now”
Protesters Denounce Sanders’ Support for Animal Agriculture
[Video of DxE arrests in front of Oakland City Hall. 1:37]
On May 30, roughly two dozen members of the animal liberation network Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) rushed the stage of a Bernie Sanders rally in Oakland, California, decrying Sanders’ support for animal agriculture and demanding an end to violence against animals in the United States. Activists climbed onto the stage at the rally in front of Oakland City Hall and displayed banners reading “Animal Liberation Now” and “Animal Rights is Social Justice.” The activists halted Sanders’ speech before quickly being removed from the rally by security.
“Sanders claims to oppose ‘factory farming,’ but what he hides is that virtually all farms in the United States, including farms he supports, are essentially factory farms,” said protest organizer Aidan Cook. “What we’ve learned in the case of human oppression applies to animals too: when we see someone as an object, all sorts of horrors - notably factory farming - are not just possible but inevitable.”
In March Sanders was criticized by hip hop mogul Russell Simmons for refusing to combat animal agriculture and, according to Sanders’ wife, declaring that he stands with the farmers. Simmons in turn endorsed Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination and Sanders was criticized in the Huffington Post as an “animal agribusiness stooge.” Animal rights activists with the network Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) started protesting at rallies and attracted widespread attention, including a long profile by Vice News on activists’ demands for legal recognition of animals’ rights and ultimately a “Species Equality Act.”
Activists do not protest at Bernie Sanders rallies in opposition to Sanders himself, but rather to pull Sanders in their direction. Sanders’ opponent Hillary Clinton recently released a campaign platform on animal issues, although it stops far short of what activists would like to see. Activists expect Bernie Sanders, the progressive candidate, to support more radical action to provide animals not just with improved conditions but with legal rights to be free from harm.
The burgeoning grassroots activist network DxE was founded in the Bay Area in 2013 and has since grown to encompass demonstrations in over 30 countries and 152 cities worldwide. Using an open source model, coordinated days of action, and large-scale disruptions of political and cultural events, the network has attracted attention for its demand of full legal rights for nonhuman animals in outlets ranging from CNN to The New York Times. Perhaps most notably, the network has secured international coverage for its open rescues and investigations into so-called “humane” farms including Whole Foods suppliers.
“Bernie Sanders claims to support the ‘good’ farms,” said activist Rachel Ziegler, “but as our repeated investigations have shown, even the ‘good’ farms are horrific.”
The protest in the Bay Area aims to be the start of a movement of animal rights activists congregating in the Bay Area to create a growing political haven for nonhuman animals, including bans on products of violence against animals and legal personhood for all animals.
Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) is a network of animal rights activists working to challenge speciesism throughout society. We use creative protest to challenge the use of animals for food, clothing, experimentation, and entertainment. Visit Direct Action Everywhere on Facebook and at http://directactioneverywhere.com. Follow us on Twitter @DxEverywhere.