PETA donor and Action Team member David Simon recently took a few minutes out of his busy schedule to speak with PETA Action Team coordinator Eric Deardorff about some of his experiences as an activist for animals. We hope that some of David’s insights will encourage you to follow his lead and speak out for animals in your own community!
What made you want to participate in your first demonstration?
Well, that was a few years ago, so I don’t remember the exact reason I decided to take part, but I think there were probably a few factors. I felt strongly that animals should not be used in entertainment, most of my friends were participating, and it was a big demonstration, so I wanted to see what all the fuss was about!
What were your feelings before the demonstration? Any nerves?
I don’t recall, but I was probably nervous. Among other things, that was before I understood the law applicable to protests on private property, and I remember thinking there was a chance I would be arrested. I now know that getting arrested is unlikely in California if protests are held properly. Also, I had not done much protesting in my adult life and so wasn’t really sure what to expect. My earlier experience had been at USC Out of South Africa demonstrations in the 1980s.
How did your feelings change during and afterward?
During the demo, I carried around a poster of a baby elephant being “trained” (that is, broken) and showed it to families, explaining what was happening. Many were receptive and wanted to see the image and understand it. A few even decided to leave. I found this particular tactic effective and rewarding, and now, at circus demos, this is the way I generally operate. I like to approach people and talk to them. That’s also where my main protesting skills lie; I’m not great at leading chants because I get hoarse right away.
How many demonstrations have you participated in now?
Against Ringling Bros.? Probably about 20; all demonstrations, probably about 200.
What keeps you active for animals?
The feeling that animal advocacy is what I was put on this planet to do and that spreading the message of treating animals humanely means more to me than almost anything else in my life.
Does animal activism ever get old?
Sometimes the demonstrations can get old when we don’t get a quick win for animals, but it really helps to have a small victory every so often to keep you engaged and hopeful. With Ringling, it has been somewhat discouraging that they haven’t budged in years despite so many demonstrations across the country. But I will still go back and protest this year and every year until they retire their animals.