Today we have the great pleasure of sharing with you all an interview with the awesome folks currently on The Bunny Alliance Gateway To Hell Tour that began on the West Coast last year, and has recently been making it’s way up the Eastern Coast of the United States. This leg of the tour began on the 27th of December, 2013 and was slated to go until only January 11th, but we are happy to report that you haven’t quite missed it yet! If you are in Portland (January 18) or Seattle, those two dates have recently been added to the schedule, and the tour is slated to go around again in the summertime, so if this is resonating with people on a personal level, there are still many opportunities to become involved.
BWM: Briefly, can you explain for people who aren’t familiar, what the Bunny Alliance/Gateway To Hell Tour is, what you do, and the nature of your work?
BA: The Bunny Alliance Gateway to Hell Tour is organized as part of the global Gateway to Hell campaign against airlines and other companies that transport animals such as primates, cats, and dogs to animal testing labs. The reason for targeting these airlines is that airlines are a weak link in the vivisection industry. If you can cut off the transportation companies, then the labs simply cannot get the animals they need for experiments. Since airlines don’t have any real interest in animal testing, but do have an interest in public opinion and customer relations, tons of successes have brought the campaign to a point at which China Southern Airlines and Air France are now the only commercial airlines actively transporting animals. For a full list of victories in the campaign, please visit GatewaytoHell.net (http://www.gatewaytohell.net/our-network/victories/).
We choose to focus on Delta for this tour and as part of the Gateway to Hell campaign because Delta is the North American representative of Air France and in a joint-venture with the airline. They share the scheduling and profits of transatlantic flights on which frightened animals are locked away in the cargo holds for thousands of miles just to arrive at a life of pain and suffering. Delta has the power to pressure Air France to enact a permanent ban on the transportation of animals to labs, and we have set out to make sure they do so. Delta’s relationship with Air France could not be made clearer when Delta ticket counters across the country read “Delta KLM Air France” in bold letters spanning the walls behind them.
BWM: What is a highlight for you presently? Has a certain date or action stood out for you? What made it memorable?
BA: So far the highlight of the tour was showing up at the house of Delta Air Lines CEO Richard Anderson and seeing the expression on his face when we told him we were from The Bunny Alliance and would like to have a meeting with him. It was clear immediately that he was well aware of The Bunny Alliance and our campaign against Delta Air Lines and Air France. The whole tour had been leading up to this point, with actions happening against Delta literally across the nation on our way to their headquarters and executives’ homes in Atlanta, Georgia.
BWM: Why did you choose the name “The Bunny Alliance”? Does the name hold some kind of personal significance for you?
BA: We picked the name The Bunny Alliance for one because we want to help foster a network of grassroots activists across the country from various social movements and form alliances with other animal rights, environmental, and anarchist organizations. The reason for choosing bunnies for the name and logo is because rabbits are animals who are hyper-exploited by the capitalist system, in which they are used for their skin, their hair, their meat, as well as over-bred and neglected as companion animals and used for cruel experimentations for cosmetics, cleaning products, and pharmaceuticals.
8.Can you explain a bit about yourself and your own background in activism, how did you get to this point in your own work?
Jordan: My main form of activism in the beginning was working with Food Not Bombs a lot in Whittier and Long Beach, and then getting involved in antifascist and anarchist organizing around Southern California. Eventually I started getting involved in animal rights work and quickly started organizing on campaigns against Huntingdon Life Sciences, a contract animal testing facility. After multiple lawsuits and various victories, myself and my co-organizers started shifting our focus to the Gateway to Hell campaign and got involved in targeting airlines that transport animals to labs. With Empty Cages LA, we were part of the efforts against El Al Airlines and China Eastern Airlines (both of which stopped shipping animals) and have a hard-hitting campaign against China Southern Airlines that we are still working on with ECLA and The Bunny Alliance.
Amanda: I’ve been involved in animal rights activism since 2006. I’ve engaged in extensive vegan and animal rights educational activities, including tabling and leafleting, writing articles, organizing speaker events, and touring, and I’ve also planned a number of anti-vivisection and anti-fur protests and been involved in several long-term campaigns against the exploitation of animals, which brought me to working on the Gateway to Hell campaign. I’m also currently in law school and actively involved in making legal resources and information more accessible to activists. I’m the mom to an amazing little dog named Suzanna, who in her first couple years of life suffered abuse and then ended up on death row at an animal shelter, and she is now my constant reminder that every animal deserves to be rescued from a life of hell and she inspires me to always keep fighting.
Tyler: My activism career started in 2008 when I started attending UCLA home protests and quickly transitioned into focusing on campaigning against Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS) and their affiliates. The first major campaign victory I was a part of was in 2009 when Fortress Investment divested 70 million dollars from HLS. I remember after the victory was confirmed, I felt so empowered by the fact that a small group of ambitious kids could force a corporation to make real changes for animals through creative campaigning and pressure tactics. From that point on, I have not looked back and have been a part of various hard-hitting campaigns in the Los Angeles area, some resulting in a victory and some in lawsuits and criminal charges. But all the ups and downs over the years have taught me one important fact: campaigns are most effective when our movement works together and adapts to the challenges with which we are faced, which is exactly what The Bunny Alliance is about, creating a network of activists and winning campaigns.
BWM: Are there right now any future plans to extend the tour, or re-visit any spots you’ve already been to?
BA: We are extending the tour to include stops in both Portland (https://www.facebook.com/events/518688151584266/ ) and Seattle after our LA dates and are going to start working on organizing a longer, more comprehensive tour for the summer. We are going to revisit a lot of the cities that we went to on this tour in order to connect more with the local activists and show support for their projects as well spend more time on Delta and Air France targets. On this tour, we have been able to work with some amazing groups and help out on other campaigns along the way. We worked with Alliance for Medical Progress in St. Louis by having a home demonstration with them against Bo Kennedy, one of the last “doctors” who still uses live cats for cruel intubation trainings. We were able to stop by the China Southern Cargo (http://thebunnyalliance.com/2014/01/04/surprise-demo-at-china-southern-cargo-office-at-ohare-international-airport/) Office in Chicago, and even made a stop by the homes of two ABX Air executives (http://thebunnyalliance.com/2014/01/04/756/) in Ohio after a friend asked for some help on that campaign (ABX Air are a small cargo company that have started shipping primates from China to the US ).
BWM: If people want to follow the tour or lend support, what are the best ways for them to do that?
BA: The best way to follow the tour is to visit our website at TheBunnyAlliance.com. We have been updating it on daily basis after each demo and action. The best way to support the tour and the overall campaign is to come to the events we have organized in your city, make donations so we can keep doing this work, and organize your own protest, leafleting event, or benefit in your city.
BWM: If there were one thing that you could wish for on the tour, what would it be, what is the best thing you could hope for while you are out on the road?
BA: One of the main goals of this tour is not just to have one time protests in each city, but to be able to empower activists to take organizing and planning into their own hands. So in that respect, one of the best things that we can hope for is to have groups work with the Gateway to Hell network and organize their own actions against Delta and Air France, or even to just feel inspired by our work and strategic campaigning and put that motivation onto their own projects and struggles.
BWM: Any final thoughts about vivisection, the tour, or anything else you’d like to leave people with?
The grassroots animal liberation movement is getting stronger across the world every day, and with the increasing closures of
breeding facilities and laboratories along with the victories of the Gateway to Hell campaign, we can and will see an end to vivisection; however, this end cannot be fully realized while a global capitalist system still prevails, and the end to vivisection or even the “liberation” of all non-human animals does not equate to an end to suffering or the overthrow of all oppressive institutions and ideologies. Lastly, a note to anarchists who have no real interest in animal liberation and won’t expand their moral framework to include non-human animals: a friend of ours from the New York City Anarchist Black Cross pointed out that our strategies and tactics as animal rights activists work. The animal liberation movement gets results, tears down the capitalist framework of domination over other beings, has one of the strongest prisoner support networks in the world, and operates from a frame of practical action that is based on a theory of total liberation.
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