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Farm Sanctuary, Then and Now: Celebrating One other Yr of Compassion


What’s a notable problem that you’ve got confronted? How did this expertise form you as an advocate and activist and affect the way in which you interacted with others shifting ahead?

The Hegins pigeon shoot in Pennsylvania was a spotlight of the animal rights motion within the late Nineteen Eighties. It was an annual neighborhood fundraiser centered round capturing pigeons and consuming beer. Animal advocates started displaying as much as protest with the intention of stopping the killing. We’d vocally show our opposition and disgust with the occasion, typically leading to open battle with its individuals. Numerous arrests had been made through the years as police tried to keep up order within the midst of what grew to become a unstable setting. The violent circus environment attracted shoot supporters who loved the battle, which made us notice that our confrontational strategy was not having the supposed outcome.

We determined to vary our techniques; reasonably than preventing with shooters, we started documenting the violence of the pigeon shoot and rescuing injured birds. When the shooters and their supporters sought to battle, we refused. Sadly, the group started to tackle extra drastic measures to stir us up. They rushed to catch injured birds so as to forestall us from serving to them. And so they’d rip off the birds’ wings and chew off their heads, trying to incite conflicts with us.

Because the shooters escalated their confrontational techniques, nonetheless, we remained nonviolent and continued documenting their conduct. In the course of the multi-year battle, Farm Sanctuary integrated as a Pennsylvania legislation enforcement company and filed cruelty fees, complementing different authorized methods underway to finish the shoot. Our conduct got here to be seen as respectable and accountable, and the shooters, nonetheless in search of to create violent confrontations, had been behaving in abominable methods. Their place grew to become much less tenable and extra determined.

Within the occasion’s closing 12 months, the shooters’ violence was constantly met with nonviolence, which finally prevailed. On the finish of the day, after most individuals had left, a small group of animal advocates convened round a veterinary van the place rescued pigeons had been being cared for. When a bunch of annoyed shooters came to visit for one final attempt at stirring up a battle we linked arms and turned our backs to them, inserting ourselves between the shooters and the pigeons. Fortunately, the police arrived simply because the shooters did and advised them to disperse. It was a becoming finish to an unpleasant occasion. This episode helped me perceive the ability of nonviolence in creating social change.

In the long run, we had been in a position to rescue dozens of pigeons, a lot of whom got here to dwell at Farm Sanctuary. And if you happen to go to our Watkins Glen shelter immediately, you’ll be able to see the descendants of those Hegins birds.

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