I think we successfully slew a few sacred cows today … which is not bad for a bunch of vegans and vegetarians …
Our usual, sadly now weekly, fur protest was going to be somewhat different in that we were being filmed and interviewed. M’s brother in law had a contact who wanted to talk to some animal activists. He works for a marketing research company and they wanted to know what makes us tick. M and I thought this would be a good idea.
So Mark came along to join us, first in a coffee shop where we were asked a myriad of questions and then he filmed us setting up, doing the protest and interviewed us as we did so. We protest because we believe it is the right thing to do. We can’t abide the thought that animals are skinned alive in China, their skins sold on our streets to unsuspecting people as fake fur.
This is against the law in the first instance, although nobody who is responsible for bringing to book those responsible for breaking it seems interested. It is also extremely cruel. So our response is an emotional one. We all have or have had animals we love and care for and know that the animals in China are no different to ours.
Being questioned at length about it however, by someone exceptionally intelligent, who wanted more than just soundbites and who had no hidden agenda, was very interesting. It made me think about what I was doing on an intellectual level.
Over the years, I seem to have acquired a rather tough skin when it comes to talking. As a child and a teenager, I used to withdraw from anything involving confrontation. I was so shy and awkward that I could not even start a conversation with another person. Some of that burned away when I started speaking out for people who had no voice and the rest of it appears to be have been annihilated in recent years by my ongoing anger at what is happening in our world.
Don’t get me wrong – I can still curl up and die in social situations but no longer in “professional” ones. I had a lot to say today and I hope it was helpful :-). The shop we were protesting outside did not enjoy the fact that we were being filmed. Sadly, the manager/ owner (who does a great rumpelstiltskin act) was not around but plenty of people from the restaurant across the road, which is owned by the same family, came out to stand around, glare at us and try to look heavy. They instead looked a bit pathetic.
Did they really think that if they glared at us enough, we would go away? All of us were questioned at length on our backgrounds, motivations, extent of our activism. We talked about fur, about meat, animal testing for cosmetics, animal testing for medicine, about what our hopes were, what we wanted to achieve. I think we were successful in showing that we are not all militant vegans, that we are not raving loonies – just ordinary people who have seen what is happening and are prepared to spend time and effort in trying to stop it. And you know, militant vegans are ordinary people too :-).
In the middle of being interviewed on camera for what felt like the 10th time (it is very tiring, let me tell you), trying and failing to hide my cigarette, chaos erupted.
At the time, it was not clear what had happened but what I could see was a firework rocket shooting across the road, directly at an old lady on crutches who had passed me earlier. She stood in shock as it not only hit her but then spun round, surrounding her in smoke and sparks.
I ran to her and held on to her whilst I spoke to her, called for a chair and then let forth a torrent of abuse at the group of lads over the road, laughing. Luckily, she was very shocked, but unhurt. The rocket had hit her very sturdy rubber shoes. She did not want to make a fuss and simply wanted to get to her destination. I was petrified that her frail body would go into shock proper. So I took a little while to examine her then walked her to the coffee shop and arranged for the staff there to take care of her. I walked back, ensured that the forensic evidence continued to be secured and the police arrived to take statements.
Unfortunately, I had forgotten about the camera. My ungainly dash and subsequent foul-mouthed tirade had been caught for posterity. I am not sure that I want my excess of temper being held up as an example of animal activism but in typical Titflasher fashion, that’s what they got.
The researcher said “oh you really do care about people as much as animals. You just took off!”. I tried to explain to him that it is instinctive, that there is no thought process involved. Also, over the years I have had a fair bit of training in dealing with those sorts of situations, from South Africa when I was the youngest qualified first aider at 11/12, to the advanced first aid training I had subsequently, to the years I spent with R, responding to emergencies. So I am confident in knowing that I can most probably deal with what I am going to come across.
What shocked me to my core though was what had actually happened. Apparently, these three young pieces of useless wastes of space had actually bought the fireworks and then given them to a teenager who was known to be mentally challenged. In shock, he threw it away, whereupon it shot across the road.
What on earth did they think would happen? Did they hope that he would get hurt? What sort of evil-minded shits do we have living amongst us and how on earth did they get to be so vile?
What was incredibly heartening was the public response. Within seconds, a chair was procured from a building site, a glass of water was in hand, people gathered round, not to gawk but to try and help. I had not realised that E’s husband had arrived with the baby and he had not only given chase but had caught up with them, relieved them of the rest of the fireworks before breaking them in two and returning them to the shop. He was able to give the police a good description of the idiots.
I am hoping the police catch them but I guess the most they will get is a slap on wrist because no-one was hurt. I am very grateful all I had to deal with was a sore foot, rather than say, someone’s face blown off or a heart attack or stroke.
I have no idea why the government cannot just ban the private purchase of bloody fireworks but I sincerely wish they would.
On the bright side, when I was finished talking to the police, I said, “right, back to the protest” and they said “what protest?!!” So, I pointed. I got the usual schpiel about protests etc., I gave the usual schpiel back about not wanting to break the law and lo and behold, we have now met our two friendly neighbourhood policepeople. No doubt when we pop up next they will come and visit. I am sure we can rustle up some vegan snacks and a cup of tea :-).