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PETA Activist Spotlight: 500th Protest and Counting!

Posted by at 10:57 AM | Permalink | Comments (14)


PETA Activist Spotlight: 500th Protest and Counting! by Guest BloggerMy 50th birthday is approaching at the speed of sound, and the occasion got me thinking about how long I’ve been working for animal rights. According to my estimates, last week’s demonstration in downtown West Palm Beach was my 500th protest. I was there with two scantily clad young PETA ladies who were taking a shower to illustrate that the water it takes for six months of showers is equivalent to the water it takes to produce just 1 pound of meat. The protest made me think about the number of times I have worn my heart on my sleeve, stuck my neck out, and urged others to make compassionate choices using creative, colorful protests and nonviolent civil disobedience.

It was 29 years ago when I first stood determinedly with my sign held high against the cruelty of rodeos in Ontario, Canada. I heard the horses neighing from their makeshift stalls as they were being taken to the ring. I decided to stand firm in the rodeo parking lot when I was asked to leave and was then taken to a waiting police car. Since that day, I’ve been dragged away countless times—dressed as a bleeding rabbit, intercepted in the middle of a deer hunt sabotage, and tackled off the International Fur Fair runway, and I even narrowly missed being knocked over by reporters after orchestrating the first “We’d Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur” demonstration in a snow blizzard in Yorkville, Ontario, in 1990. At that time, I was determined to get lots of media attention every two weeks about the cruelty of wearing fur.  Using different spokespeople, different group names, and a wide variety of attention-grabbing tactics resulted in success: The fur stores began to close in Toronto’s fur district. I even managed to save a newspaper clipping from that event to keep me motivated!

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One person I was dating about a decade ago asked me how much longer I was going to be doing this. “Aren’t you getting a little old for this type of thing?” I’ll be standing up for animals—or sitting, if I am in a wheelchair—at 100 years old! “I will make sure that my voice is heard until animals are no longer being abused or killed in circuses,  laboratories, forests, and oceans and on factory farms and fur farms,” I answered. This gave me a great idea. After spending some recoup time in a wheelchair after my first hip replacement operation around the winter holiday season, I thought what a great opportunity it would be to surprise the Toronto Federal Government Office dressed as an angel with a large costumed seal pleading for the seals to be spared in the annual slaughter. What government official could turn down an angel in a wheelchair at Christmas?

Some say protesting is outdated, but I wholeheartedly disagree. If it is done with humor, originality, and a few surprises, it can really get the point across. I still remember being amazed at the loud, receptive cheers from a large majority of the seated circus patrons who had watched a sad bear act as I was dragged off the Toronto Sky Dome stage with a banner stating, “Circuses Hurt Animals!” The audience actually clapped for my message. That’s the power of an audacious protest coupled with media attention: It can change the hearts and minds of consumers, voters, parents, and children alike to make the kind choices that will help animals. It can also, as in the case of PETA, create the largest, most effective animal rights organization in the world.

Now I’m off—I can’t be late for protest 501 …

Susan Hargreaves is an award-winning humane educator with kidshelpanimals.com who considers herself a veteran animal rights activist. Susan is known for her creative protests, including the first nude “We’d Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur” demo, and is the creator of the radio series Animal Voices.

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    prad says...

    July 27th, 2009, 10:07 pm

    some people like you are timeless sue!

    Don says...

    July 28th, 2009, 2:12 pm

    Congrats on your 50th and 500th! You’re one of the busiest and most effective animal rights people I’ve ever met… and actually the FIRST one I met when I became an AR person 20 years ago!

    Rebecca says...

    July 28th, 2009, 2:27 pm

    In many instances the public has no idea of the extent of animal cruelty. Protests tell the story in a succinct and direct fashion, requiring little public involvement other than their attention, and protests grab that. Protests are the spark for all movements, be it political, labor etc. They shout out “We are mad as hell and not going to take it anymore!”. And people listen.

    colleen says...

    July 28th, 2009, 2:37 pm

    Keep up the creative energy Susan

    Butterflies Katz says...

    July 28th, 2009, 5:44 pm

    This article was very inspiring. We all need to get off our buts and do more to help the animals!

    Heather Deeley says...

    July 28th, 2009, 6:00 pm

    We’re so lucky to have you as part of our community Susan! You do so much for the animals and children at the same time! Here’s to your next 50 years! :)

    Maida Genser says...

    July 28th, 2009, 8:43 pm

    Susan is a tireless advocate for the animals. Her educational sessions are fun for both children and adults. She has a real talent.

    Marla Gross says...

    July 30th, 2009, 8:48 pm

    You’re an inspiration, Susan! The animals are lucky to have you in their corner.

    DAD says...

    July 31st, 2009, 5:10 am

    A wee story Sue told me… having just been removed from the the stage of the Russian Circus in Toronto, by a large young Security Officer, non to gently!

    A Security Officer wearing a pin on his jacket of a winged .38 Spl bullet! One with the caption; SAS Canada; “You must know my Dad” pointing at the pin, one given for scoring 100% on his Security course.
    Quite a feat!

    He quickly put the two names together, dropping her arm like it was red hot! “Your Dad is Mike Hargreaves?” he said, “Yes” was the answer.

    A short cut to the street was arranged, prior to the arrival of the Police, a visit to 52 Division Police Staion was avoided, this time!

    Olga Zaric says...

    July 31st, 2009, 8:26 pm

    Susan, YOU ROCK!

    Kimiyo Nakamura Garey says...

    August 3rd, 2009, 6:51 pm

    I am sure that my comment here will be deleted by PETA again just like one of my comments on a different issue was deleted by PETA.

    I know most of people do not pay attention to things very often so some people take this type of strategy to get attention. It might work in some cases.

    But at the same time, this type of strategy is losing supporters ironically. And this is ONE of reasons to lose supporters, to be honest.

    Thank you.

    Angie Greico says...

    August 4th, 2009, 10:06 pm

    Still can’t believe you’re 50, but I guess your youthful appearance and energy is just another example of the benefits of a vegan lifestyle! Happy Birthday!!! And thanks on behalf of all the animals — it has been a pleasure knowing you and “working” with you over the years!!!

    Linda Bower says...

    August 5th, 2009, 12:01 pm

    I have been an activist for approximately 6 years and I owe it, in large part, to seeing a presentation (State of the Animal Kinddom) by Susan Hargreaves. She is a mentor and I am humbled by her compassion, her intelligence and wit, and her dedication. The animals will have their day because of people like her on their side.

    DAD says...

    January 1st, 2010, 2:24 pm

    Susan is my Daughter, once she had been arrested, and was being kept in a Police Station in Montreal Quebec, even tho the fine had been paid.

    One of Sue’s support group called me, I got the phone number of that Sub Station, called them up 2AM, had a chat about their soon move to the New Glock 17 Pistol, interested Cop! When I told him I had just trained their TACTICAL TEAM FIREARMS INSTRUCTORS! And my name was Mike Hargreaves!! OH YES SIR… We are just releasing your Daughter! Sue said lots of shouts of Pappa, Firearms Instructor, Glock..
    in French.
    She was out in 3 minutes!

    I think I could tell stories for ever!

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