Less than eight months ago, a small but determined group of people wrote the words “No New Animal Lab” in black paint across a flannel bed sheet. Although they were preparing late into the night, the full impact of their efforts would last well beyond…
The following morning the Board of Regents of the University of Washington prepared to approve the construction of the Animal Research and Care Facility (ARCF). This move came after a lawsuit against the Regents for hosting private dinner meetings in violation of Washington’s Open Public Meetings Act. It was under this shroud of secrecy that the Regents developed and approved the ARCF contract with Skanska USA. As a hollow gesture towards accountability and transparency, UW decided to produce this spurious re-vote to skirt public criticism. As the Regents prepared to review and approve project construction, the group unfurled the ad hoc banner and began a disruption.
That day marked the beginnings of the No New Animal Lab campaign. In a little over half a year, it has made a transformation from that first small disruption into a high-profile campaign that spans over a dozen cities, multiple countries, and two continents, employing a diversity of tactics–letter writing, petitions, public comment, office protests, office disruptions, home protests, mass demonstrations, and direct action. The campaign’s dynamic tactics, expanding momentum, accumulating pressure, and radical foundations have aroused the animal liberation movement.
Now with the arrival of summer, UW and Skanska leadership likely hope that they have weathered the storm. They could not be more wrong. No New Animal Lab is launching two big pushes in order to escalate pressure even further.
The first is the No New Animal Lab Tour. We will take this campaign around the US with two goals in mind–to stop the lab and to build a movement. We want to distribute the pressure model, build a network, and foster organizational skills and resources. Please watch for further details as we announce them.
Following the tour, please join us for the 2nd March on the University of Washington on Friday, October 2nd. UW will be in its first week of Fall Term, students and faculty will be returning, and freshman will be starting anew. University administration would like the new academic year to kick off without a hitch, and they celebrate this homecoming with their annual Dawg Daze week of events. Public pressure will follow them well into the new year. There is no turning back. The 2nd March on the University of Washington will make that abundantly clear.
On April 25th we had 500 people in the streets showing mass public advocacy for animals and opposition to UW and Skanska’s plans. On October 2nd, we want to increase those numbers, increase the pressure, and employ mass action to stop this lab. There is no distance that is too far to travel. Take off work. Skip class. Join us in Seattle. We will show solidarity. We will stop this lab. Where will you be?
Imagine a society in which animals are no longer exploited for human use. Where the rights and needs of animals are respected and taken into consideration. And where our relationship with them is one based on compassion and understanding instead of domination.
The End of Meat is a feature documentary that explores the idea of a post-meat world. It will include interviews with philosophers, scientists, artists and activists who offer their insight and progressive ideas about the role of animals in our society. Watch and learn how you can help make this film a reality
Grassroots Mobilizing for Animal Liberation
Animals in captivity or whose habitats are being destroyed live in a constant state of resistance. When their lives are threatened, they kick and bite and scream. When their homes are taken, they attempt to rebuild and regroup. When they are confined, they desperately grasp for an existence beyond captivity. Animals fight to live, to be wild, and to be free, and their fight is always urgent. If we are fighting in solidarity with animals, where is our urgency? What are we missing in our movement for animal liberation?
An effective movement for animal liberation must challenge the systems in which animal use is rooted — capitalism, colonialism, imperialism, and patriarchy. Our organizing must be informed by solidarity and inspired by the passion with which animals fight. We need a path forward that is forged through on-the-ground actions, movement building, strategic campaigning, a diversity of tactics, and coalition organizing. We need a movement that is grounded in the urgency of the animals’ own resistance.
Join us for a presentation and discussion about effectively resisting the use of animals and embracing the urgency of the fight for animal liberation. We will explore the recent history of animal advocacy and share our experiences of organizing within the context of the current state of the movement, and discuss ideas about how we can work together for a stronger animal liberation movement — a movement that is driven by grassroots activism, resistance against all of the systems that support animal exploitation, and solidarity with the animals and others who fight for liberation and self-determination. We will also share our plans for next summer and invite you to take part. We are working to create a summer of regional campaign development and nationwide mobilization of grassroots activists, and we look forward to talking with you about how your community wants to be involved.
Dec 13: Bay Area
Dec 14: Southern California
Dec 16: Phoenix, AZ
Dec 18: Denver, CO
Dec 20: Salt Lake City, UT
Dec 22: Reno, NV
Dec 31: Florence, MA
Jan 2: Philadelphia, PA & Washington, DC
Jan 4: Charleston, SC
Jan 5: Gainesville, FL
Jan 7: South Florida
Jan 9: Dallas, TX
Jan 11: Seattle, WA
For more info
By Scott Knowles
If you are vegan and you want participate in indigenous solidarity work, first things first, take your agenda and throw it in the fire. Second, shut up and start listening to indigenous voices.
I live in what is now known as Canada, on the unceded Coast Salish Territories of the Tsleil-Waututh and Skwxwu7mesh Nations (North Vancouver). In Canada and across Turtle Island, there is a long history of colonial repression, genocide and assimilation. It is a history that vegans need to ensure we do not repeat.
From small pox, the criminalization of culture, residential schools, the 60’s scoop and countless other attempts of genocide and assimilation, to now, we have seen little change in the colonial attitude that governs this state. These systematic efforts to suppress culture have affected indigenous peoples access to self-determination, creating a dependency on capitalism and the Canadian government, and impoverishing entire communities. The effects and continuation of this oppression can be seen to this day. From the threat of industrial projects aiming to further colonize unceded lands, to the racist stereotypes that permeate “Canadian culture”. From the overrepresentation of native people in the prison system, to the conservative governments refusal to do an inquiry into the hundreds of cases of missing and murdered indigenous women.
However, since contact, these systematic attempts of genocide and assimilation have not succeeded. Indigenous resistance has been too strong to defeat, a resistance that continues to this day and is rapidly building in so called British Columbia.
As this resistance builds we are seeing nations defeat government and industry in courts that have historically been used as tools of repression. We are seeing indigenous camps being set up to blockade pipeline and mining projects, and to enact their land and title rights. As this movement grows there is increasing support from settlers who want to see justice for the land, air, water and animals. However, as settlers we need to ensure that we do not co-opt this movement, invisibilize the past or stand in solidarity only when it suites our own agenda. We need to ensure we do not over simplify issues, we need to break down our privilege and we need to listen and learn how to decolonize our work. This is something that seems to be particularly difficult for us vegans.
However, as counterintuitive as vegans working towards indigenous solidarity might seem, it is absolutely necessary in building a true environmental justice movement – a movement that is the only real hope for saving animals and humans alike. It is time that animal rights activists start breaking down our analysis, finding intersections and working to build a broad based movement. This is something that is currently being achieved up in Tahltan territory, commonly known as the Sacred Headwaters.
The town of Iskut is home to just over two hundred people, most of whom are Tahltan. It is the closest town to the Sacred Headwaters, an area of land about the size of Oregon, one of the last truly wild places remaining on Turtle Island. The town of Iskut is also home to a group known as the Klabona Keepers. The Klabona Keepers describe themselves as, “an organization of Tahltan elders and families who occupy and use traditional lands near Iskut, British Columbia known as Tl’abāne, the Sacred Headwaters of the Stikine, Nass and Skeena Rivers.”
Over the past ten years, the Klabona Keepers have stood strong in their resistance of industrial development. They have kicked Shell off of their territory, they have kicked Fortune Minerals off of their territory, they have blockaded the over hunting of their territory, this September they were met by RCMP snipers after taking over a mining drill pad and on September 29 they lit a sacred fire, blockading Imperial Metals Red Chris mine.
Currently, the Klabona Keepers have a hunting blockade set up on the only road that leads into Tl’abāne (the Sacred Headwaters). In setting up this blockade, they asked for support from the Wildlife Defence League, an anti trophy-hunting group. Since September 15, the Wildlife Defence League has been supporting the Klabona Keepers in blockading all non-indigenous hunters from entering the area. They have turned away grizzly hunters, caribou hunters, moose hunters and wolf hunters.
Every member of the Wildlife Defence League is vegan. On the fire at the blockade vegan meals for the Wildlife Defence League cook next to traditional foods for the Klabona Keepers. There is a mutual understanding and respect between the two groups as they work together to stop the over hunting of the Tahltan’s sacred lands.
Why, you might ask, would a group of vegans aiming to defend wildlife be part of a blockade that is allowing indigenous hunters to continue killing animals? It is because this group of vegans recognizes that not doing so would be to act in a colonial, self-righteous and fundamentalist way, repeating a history of oppression. To stop indigenous people in the area from hunting would be to further colonize them, creating an increased dependence on capitalism, the colonial government and industry that aims to destroy their lands. Lands that are home to the very animals they are trying to protect. They recognize that the nearest grocery store is six hours away. They recognize that it is not their right to tell indigenous people who have welcomed them onto their territory how to live. They realize that the Klabona Keepers have saved more wildlife in their resistance of industrial projects than any person could by changing their diet. They realize that this resistance needs to be supported, as industry will continue in its attempts to destroy these lands. They realize that without the Klabona Keepers, there would be no Sacred Headwaters left to protect.
This article is not meant to bring vegan voices down, but to lift them up. It is written with the hopes that vegans can begin to decolonize our work and fight for the liberation of all, whether it be from the confines of a slaughterhouse or the confines of a colonial state.
“This video is a follow-up on our campaign introduction video, it captures many of the experiences we’ve had so far during Operation Great Bear. Meet some of the folks involved from both the Wildlife Defence League and the Klabona Keepers and watch footage from the frontlines, where we are putting our bodies on the line to defend one of the last truly wild places on the planet. This campaign is about more than just the defence of wildlife, it is also about supporting the Klabona Keepers in defending their culture. A culture that has been sustained by these lands for thousands of years.” – WDL