In response to a satirical “Animal Rights BBQ” event hosted by Berkeley College Republicans on Thursday, several animal rights activists organized their own vegan barbecue as a counter-action.
Campus student group Berkeley Organization for Animal Advocacy and animal rights group Direct Action Everywhere organized the event, at which they distributed vegan hot dogs. The event was intended to raise awareness about animals rights and collect donations for the Berkeley Animal Rights Center.
“BCR have been planning a barbecue of animals who have lived tortured lives,” said Zach Groff, a spokesperson for Direct Action Everywhere. “They are selling these tortured bodies.”
Matt Johnson, an organizer for the Berkeley Animal Rights Center, said the event was organized as a direct response to BCR’s “Animal Rights BBQ,” which he said was “mocking” the animal rights movement.
BCR was selling hot dogs and hamburgers for $5. Some of the proceeds will be donated to the Berkeley Animal Shelter in the following weeks, according to Megan Myers, a BCR member and one of the head coordinators of the barbecue.
“Our decision to call it an “animal rights” barbecue is a facetious title, and has been called that for at least four years,” Myers said. “Berkeley has a very radical standpoint on the agriculture industry, which is quite disheartening. ”
Groff said the barbecue BCR is hosting is the latest in a series of events that mock “progressive culture,” citing the the Ann Coulter event as an example. The Berkeley Animal Rights group intends to change the event into a “true animal rights barbecue,” Groff said.
Amy Halpern-Laff, a member of Berkeley Coalition for Animals, said in an email she wanted to spread the message of a rising movement for animal rights happening in Berkeley at the event. Earlier this month, Berkeley City Council passed an ordinance banning local fur sales.
“We want to demonstrate the compassion and love of the animal rights community by hosting our own ‘Animal Rights Barbecue’ right alongside theirs,” Halpern-Laff said in an email. “This … shouldn’t really be a partisan issue, since we all love animals after all.”
Berkeley Animal Rights Center kicked off their barbecue with a song titled “Liberation,” that ends with the lyrics “Liberation … For the animals … Liberation … Because we are all animals … We’re all animals.”
Thursday was April 20, a date that brings many students to Memorial Glade to smoke marijuana and enjoy food. Alongside Berkeley Animal Rights Center and BCR, other organizations had set up stands at Memorial Glade, including UC Berkeley Girl Up, which raises money for girls in underdeveloped countries and The Green Team Cannabis Collective, which provides medical marijuana home delivery.
Direct Action Everywhere and the Berkeley Organization for Animal Advocacy split the costs of hosting the event.
“We are on a mission to make Berkeley the most animal-friendly city,” Johnson said. “History tells us the rest of the country is bound to follow.”