The city of Berkeley is known for fostering activism and leading the world in social change. As an activist and advocate for social justice, I am optimistic that Berkeley will continue to be on the right side of history, challenging the unjust systems of animal exploitation for profit. Following the example Berkeley’s law passed last year, the city of San Francisco voted unanimously on Tuesday to ban the sale of fur, adopting policy set out by Supervisor Katy Tang. Historically, when the San Francisco Bay leads on social issues, the rest of the country follows in its footsteps, and this victory for animals is a sign of the change to come.
The wild animals killed by the fashion industry are often extremely fearful of humans. Foxes, minks and rabbits are the most commonly killed animals for fur, but even members of the dog family, such as coyotes and wolves, are also used. These animals are trapped in miniscule wire cages, unable to turn around; they often go mentally insane from being confined. Stressed mink chew their tails off, and aggression and cannibalism are results of mental insanity. In the end, every animal in the fur industry is brutally killed; anal electrocution is a common method of slaughter.
Animal rights activists collected more than 10,000 signatures throughout Berkeley and San Francisco, asking people to help end cruelty against animals in the fur industry. My activist friends and I took turns sitting a tiny metal cage in the middle of Sproul Plaza to raise awareness about the horrendous confinement of fur animals. My experience doing outreach on campus was mostly positive; it seemed that everyone I talked to agreed that killing animals for a fashion statement is unnecessary and violent. This was a great chance for students such as myself to learn more about both politics and law because it gave us the chance to engage in canvassing for legislative change and attend meetings at City Hall.
The activist group I affiliate with, Direct Action Everywhere, or DxE, is a grassroots organization, offering many opportunities to get involved with major projects, and new ideas from the community are always welcomed. DxE challenges social norms to alert society to the severity of violence towards animals and also fights for legislative change, with our ultimate goal being a constitutional amendment extending the rights of people, including bodily autonomy, to all sentient beings.
Death for fashion is simply wrong. We have skin and we have hair; to kill someone else to take theirs and wear it as decoration is clearly greedy and unjustifiable. Let’s work together to chart a path to a better tomorrow and end all exploitation against animals.
Naomi Rose is a UC Berkeley junior studying sociology student and an activist with the grassroots animal rights network Direct Action Everywhere.