Banning Fur in Berkeley

By Genevieve Cottraux

On March 14, the Berkeley City Council will discuss a proposal to ban the sale of fur in the city.  The proposal is the result of a petition started by the group Berkeley Coalition for Animals (BCA), a volunteer-led coalition addressing issues of animal rights legislation, business, and culture.  The city of Berkeley, home of the University of California, Berkeley and famous for its progressive politics, recently passed a resolution banning the Dog Meat Festival in Yulin, China, with the aim of setting an example for other cities and eventually ending the slaughter of dogs.

The campaign Fur Free Berkeley has garnered support from community groups such as Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) and the Humane League’s San Francisco chapters, individuals such as author and social activist John Robbins, the student group Berkeley Organization for Animal Advocacy (BOAA), and national and international groups such as In Defense of Animals, Farm Animal Rights Movement, and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

On February 26, The Daily Californian reported that more than 110 people marched from downtown Berkeley and into the university campus in support of the fur ban proposal before the City Council.  The Humane Party’s 2016 United States Presidential candidate Clifton Roberts spoke at the march.  “We need to speak out against greed, death and turmoil.  We are standing hand in hand speaking out against torture,” he said.

There are no stores in Berkeley currently selling new fur products, although used fur products are sold in second-hand stores.  The proposed ban, much like the condemnation of the Yulin Dog Meat Festival, is symbolic and part of an over-riding goal by groups such as DxE to make Berkeley “the most animal-friendly city in America.”  Last year in Berkeley, DxE opened the “first and only” community center for animal rights in the United States—the Berkeley Animal Rights Center.

A similar ban on the sale of fur products was passed in West Hollywood, California, in 2013.

Fur farm in Finland. Image by Oikeutta Eläimille (Wikimedia Commons)

In its Ten Facts About Fur, the group Born Free USA estimates that more than 50 million animals are killed every year for the fashion industry, with fur trims equaling or outpacing full-length fur coats in causing animal deaths.  Fur-bearing animals are gassed, electrocuted, or have their necks broken.  Some are skinned alive.  Others are caught in archaic and barbaric devices like leg-hold traps.

In its commitment to humane values and rights for all animals, the Humane Party has proposed the Abolition Amendment to the United States Constitution.  By abolishing slavery with respect to all animals, we will end exploitation- and killing-based industries such as the fur industry.