Chanting “Fur is Murder” and holding pictures of animals whose fur is made into coats, around 80 animal right activists gathered outside the Macy’s Herald Square department store Friday to participate in what was billed as Fur Free Friday demonstration organized by Caring Activists Against Fur (CAAF), an activist group in New York and New Jersey.
The two-hour demonstration started at 1 p.m. Customers walking out of Macy’s at 151 West 34th St. were greeted with bloody videos showing a fox with its fur peeled off while still alive.
Jay Daniels, a stock worker at Macy’s who was taking pictures and talking to activists at the protest, said he did not know the fur industry was so cruel. He said he never bought fur coats. “It’s not cool,” said Daniels. “I look at my animals like family. I can’t really see myself peeling them.”
Julie O’Connor, an organizer of the demonstration, said her group has been demonstrating on Black Friday for 15 years. She said it is a great time to reach out to the shoppers and show the brutality of the fur industry. “We pick a time when there are a lot of people around so we can educate people,” she said.
Carrie Roberts, a 31-year-old graduate of Kean University, donated to the animal rights group when she went past the protest. She said she learned about the how animals were treated in an inhumane manner in the fur industry when she was doing a school project on animal rights. “If people want to wear fur coats, we need to be more humane with how we do it,” she said.
Alexis Kurjian, a New Jersey member of the group, led the protesters in shouting out slogans with a megaphone in her hand as the group marched around Herald Square. People passing by took out their phones and camera to record the protesters roaring “Fur is Murder” and “Don’t buy Fur.” “I actually called Macy’s at the beginning of my journey here about four years ago,” Kurjian said. “They don’t take our phone calls. They block us. They don’t want to hear it. They don’t care.”
A Macy’s representative did not reply to multiple requests for comment. The fur salon, which is called Fur Vault in Macy’s, is located on the fifth floor of the Herald Square store. When the demonstration ended, there were five customers inside the area.
O’Connor said major department stores like Macy’s are the group’s targets. Flyers the activists gave out listed 24 retailers that announced they won’t sell animal fur. Macy’s was not one of them.
Activists held their slogans and animals pictures high so that passersby could see them. When they saw someone wearing a fur coat or fur trim, they shouted, “Shame on you!” O’Connor said her group usually starts demonstrations when the weather is getting cold and people start to wear fur coats.
“We try to bring assertiveness in our message, like you shouldn’t be wearing trim, look at how they get these animals,” said O’Connor. “That may make the people who made the mistake and bought the coat say, ‘You know what, I don’t want to put this on anymore.’”
Kurjian said she wore a fur coat until she saw a similar demonstration four and half years ago. She threw away her fur coat and has been protesting against fur coats ever since.
“I saw the footage we were showing today and I was sick over it,” said Kurjian. “It was horrible.”
O’Connor said her group will be protesting at Lord & Taylor on Fifth Avenue on Dec. 3 and back at Macy’s on Dec. 18.