from Earth First! Newswire:
The grassroots animal rights movement in the United States has been in a lull. The dominance of corporate NGOs, an increase in state-sponsored fear tactics, and an upswing in vegan consumerist feel-goodery have successfully turned what was once a powerful people’s movement into a small collection of groups scattered around the country. But things are changing.
Next month, hundreds of people will descend upon the University of Washington (UW) campus to protest the construction of a new underground animal testing laboratory. Since November 2014, activists across North America and around the world have targeted Skanska, the company responsible for constructing UW’s planned animal torture facility. If it’s allowed to be built, thousands more dogs, monkeys, mice, guinea pigs, rabbits, and other animals will be imprisoned, tortured, driven to insanity, and killed. Through office disruptions, home demonstrations, lobby invasions, and direct action, the No New Animal Lab campaign has mobilized grassroots animal activists in ways that haven’t been seen in years. Construction of the lab has started. The grassroots movement has reawakened. Energy is building. Now how are we going to do with it?
Last April, in the first march against the lab, 500 people took over the streets of Seattle. This many grassroots activists haven’t convened in one place since 2001, when the Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty campaign pressured Little Rock-based investment company Stephens, Inc. to divest from infamous animal testing company Huntingdon Life Sciences. This was at a time of relentless fury and sacrifice—a time when activists vowed that any company involved in animal exploitation would be targeted and taken down. Hundreds flooded Little Rock, and when police pushed them, the protesters pushed back harder, taking over the downtown, smashing and shutting down businesses, in what was likely the largest animal rights riot in US history.
Every moment of their lives, animals in laboratories fight, scratch, bite and scream for liberation. It’s time for a mass people’s movement that fights with the same fury. It’s time for a mass people’s movement that is willing to seriously confront animal exploitation. We can’t look to politicians, lobbyists, or corporate non-profits. It has to be us. It will be us.
The University of Washington believed they could hide this lab from the public—building it underground and deciding to approve construction through illegal, secret meetings. But they have been exposed. The April 25 march took place before anyone had locked their body to construction equipment; before “No New Animal Lab” messages had appeared in chalk and spray paint from Washington to Texas to Germany; as Skanska’s excavators had just begun to break ground. Six months later, the hole is deeper, the fences higher, the security tighter, and the numbers of impassioned activists larger. Skanska has felt the pressure—locking the doors of their offices, hiding in their homes, no longer speaking to the media. They are clearly afraid; but of what?
Everything can change in one moment. The only thing that will stop UW and Skanska is you. On October 2, hundreds of people will converge at the University of Washington to stop the construction of the underground animal lab. Where will you be?