Animal Rights Collective Blog


Circus demo/vigil schedules – spring 2014 by 1gabriela
Unfortunately, every spring semester at George Mason University signals the arrival of the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus. ARC – along with community members – have protested Ringling’s animal cruelty for several years and are ready to do so once again.

To read more about ARC’s anti-Ringling efforts in the past (including our past petitions, support from Student Senate & the passing of Resolution 23, as well as Mason media coverage of the demos/vigils), click here. For more information about animal abuse in circuses, particularly Ringling, please check out RinglingBeatsAnimals.com.

Contrary to popular belief, animal circuses do not provide any sort of cultural enrichment nor notion of environmental conservation; and instead, promote poaching, exploitation (both human and nonhuman), captivity, and cruel practices. Please consider lending your voice to animals.

We welcome anyone and everyone to the demos and even provide signs and materials for each demo/vigil. Please disseminate this page as well!

Below are the list of demos and vigils beginning this Wednesday, April 9th.

Meet at  Patriot Center, Fairfax VA (GMU campus), at the Will-Call area on Po River Ln, close to the intersection with Roanoke River Ln (where we always are for protests)
 

Wednesday, April 9 (opening night in FFX): Vigil at 9:00 pm

Friday, April 11: Vigil at 9:30p

Saturday, April 12: 5:30p – 8:00p (vigil for the end of one show and leaflet for the beginning of the next)

Sunday, April 13: 3:00p – 5:30p   (vigil for the end of one show and leaflet for the beginning of the next)

Thursday, April 17: 9:00p Vigil

Friday, April 18: 9:30p Vigil

Saturday, April 19: 5:30p – 8:00p   (vigil for the end of one show and leaflet for the beginning of the next)

Sunday, April 20 (Final show for them in our area): 3:00p – 5:30p  (vigil for the end of one show and leaflet for the beginning of the next)

To further emphasize the importance of these efforts, here some photos taken by ARC precisely ON CAMPUS in the last two years.

"Handler" pulls down the elephant's head with a bullhook, which resembles a fire-poker and are quite painful (Spring 2012)

“Handler” pulls down the elephant’s head with a bullhook, which resembles a fire-poker and are quite painful (Spring 2012)

"Handler" with a closer look at the billhook (Spring 2012)

“Handler” with a closer look at the billhook (Spring 2012)

Performers struggle with one of the dogs (Spring 2013)

Performers struggle with one of the dogs (Spring 2013)

Unhealthy conditions of the llamas; just look at their (lack of) fur! (Spring 2013)

Unhealthy conditions of the llamas; just look at their (lack of) fur! (Spring 2013)

"Handler" using the bullhook on elephant (Spring 2013)

“Handler” using the bullhook on elephant (Spring 2013)



Student Government Supports Student Protests of Ringling’s Animal Abuses by Jason Von Kundra

Student Government Supports Student Protests of Ringling’s Animal Abuses

BREAKING: A few hours ago student government passed “a resolution in support of the student protest to the Ringling Brothers Circus performance at George Mason University.” The resolution cites multiple cases of animal abuses by Ringling. In 2010 alone the Ringling Brothers had numerous citations from the USDA for failures to comply with the Animal Welfare Act, including failure to maintain adequate veterinary care in two separate elephant cases and failure to control an elephant while in public.

Animal Rights Collective members spoke in front of the Student Senate of George Mason University explaining the issue and student opposition to Ringling on behalf of the collective. After a long discussion, the mostly supportive senators passed the resolution.

This is a major victory of the Mason students that have been standing up against animal abuse over the years. A petition was presented to student government with 1,667 student signatures calling for a ban on animal circuses at George Mason. You may add your name to the petition here. We plan to deliver the petition to the GMU administration in the upcoming weeks. We are currently gathering more support and raising awareness about the issue as the ‘Cruelest Show on Earth’ continues at the Patriot Center. Full protest schedule is here.

Senator Jordan and our other allies in student government are true champions in getting the resolution passed and supporting our efforts. They have stood up for what is just and right. “Animal abuse is not entertainment,” Jordan explained to the student senate before the resolution went to a vote. The resolution passed by a majority.

The student petition and the Animal Rights Collective is calling for a ban on animal circuses at George Mason. Considering that many countries are working to end the use of animals as entertainment, banning an animal circuses on campus is possible. Bolivia was the first nation to ban animal circuses, with China being second, and three councils in Australia have banned exotic animal use. The UK is currently considering a ban as well with the release of undercover footage of an Asian elephant being chained 24 hours a day and repeatedly beaten by a staff member. The parliaments of both Brazil and Peru are also considering similar bans. We can bring a ban to Mason and as Jordan advocates, “support animal-free circuses that celebrate human achievement” rather than animal domination.

You can read Resolution 23, the resolution in support of students protesting Ringling, below or check the student government website where the resolution will soon be uploaded.

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A Resolution in support of the student protest to the Ringling Brothers Circus performance at George Mason University

R. 23

 

31st Student Senate

2nd Session

R. 23

A Resolution in support of the student protest to the Ringling Brothers Circus performance at George Mason University

IN THE STUDENT SENATE OF

GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY

April 14, 2011

 

Submitted by Chairman Jordan (Diversity)

RESOLUTION 23

A Resolution in support of student protests to the Ringling Brothers Circus performance at George mason University

Be it resolved that the Student Senate of George Mason University-

Whereas, there are numerous documented cases of animals dying due to lack of veterinary care

Whereas, many animals have died due to poor containment facilities,

Whereas, there are numerous documented cases of unsanitary feeding conditions,

Whereas, of the circus’s 62 elephants, 57 have been taken from their natural habitat,

Whereas, the type of elephant used in the Ringling Brother circus performances are endangered and are subject of numerous cases of mistreatment,

Whereas, the protesters do not wish George Mason University to profit from animal abuse

Therefore be it Resolved, That the Student Senate of George Mason University supports the efforts of student protesters of the Ringling Brothers Circus at the George Mason University Patriot Center



Ringling Protests: Check Us Out in Broadside This Week! by christine

Standing Up for Animal Rights

By Monika Joshi / Copy Chief

Protestors hand out pamphlets alleging circus animal abuse Thursday. (Photo by Monika Joshi)

Protestors hand out pamphlets alleging circus animal abuse Thursday. (Photo by Monika Joshi)

The return of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus to George Mason University has drawn protests from about 20 animal rights activists, including members of the university’s Animal Rights Collective.

“Pictures don’t lie!” shouted one protestor at Thursday’s demonstration, pointing to a poster of a roped elephant’s legs being pulled in opposite directions by trainers.

The photograph, as well as video footage of elephant and tiger abuse shown later that night, were captured by animal rights organizations like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, who say that Ringling Bros. animals are regularly beaten, chained and neglected.

Through the protests, scheduled to coincide with circus performances throughout the week, ARC aims to educate people on the mistreatment of animals in circuses.

The group was officially recognized as a student organization in 2009 and has been leading anti-circus protests every year since.

“Most circus patrons are receptive to our message, and I believe many will reconsider supporting the Ringling Bros.’ cruelty the next time,” said ARC member Jason Von Kundra.

The student group plans to deliver a petition with over 2,000 signatures to the university before the end of the semester, asking that the circus be banned from Mason.

“We are asking that our administration do the right thing by banning animal circuses from campus,” said Von Kundra, a junior earth science major. “We hope to send a strong message that abusing animals is not entertainment and that the Ringling’s ‘Cruelest Show on Earth’ has no place at Mason.”

Barry Geisler, general manager of the Patriot Center, said he sees no reason why the circus should not be allowed on campus, given that it garners high community interest and financial return for the university.

“We’re going to get more people in this week and a half than we get for an entire basketball season,” said Geisler. “So there’s obviously strong community support for the event.”

According to Geisler, the circus animals were inspected by Fairfax County Animal Control on Tuesday and no action was required.

“No one’s ever found any alleged abuse,” Geisler said. “There’s never been any abuse. They get inspected every single year.”

The protestors, however, contend that there is no way to train animals to perform circus tricks without inflicting pain and punishment.

Christine Kauffman, a Mason alumna who helped found ARC, also questioned the value of the inspections conducted at the university.

“Obviously the handlers aren’t going to beat an animal in front of an animal control officer,” she said. “They’re going to do it when no one is watching.”

Following the last performance of each night, protestors hold a candlelight vigil to honor the circus animals.

“[People] may forget about us when they go in,” said ARC member and senior history major Anthony Murray. “But when they leave, it’s the last image they see.”

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Plus, this additional anti-Ringling piece in the Opinion section:

Cruelest show on earth returns

By Justin Lalputan / Opinion Editor

As some of you may already know, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is back at George Mason University. It is advertised as the “Greatest Show on Earth,” however, one thing that it doesn’t advertise is the accusations of animal cruelty that groups such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals constantly make.

Let me start by saying that I’m not some hippie environmentalist who thinks that we should scrap all our technology and return to being one with Mother Earth.

That’s not me at all. What does bother me, however, is when people abuse animals for purposes of mere entertainment.

That makes me feel sick.

According to PETA, Ringling teaches their animals to do tricks by beating them and putting them through abusive, torturous training.

Elephants are trained to do their tricks through the use of instruments called bullhooks, training tools that, according to PETA, “look like fire pokers.”

One manner in which they train baby elephants is by forcing them into unusual positions (such as forcing them to stand on their high legs on a platform), hitting them all over their bodies with the aforementioned bullhook and then using electric prods.

The impact on the animal’s well-being is intense, and it is not unusual for animals to die or become injured by this type of mistreatment.

Speaking of deaths, in 2004, a lion died of heatstroke as Ringling Bros. crossed the Mojave Desert, and they euthanized an 8-month-old baby elephant which fractured its hind legs doing a stunt that trainers forced it to do.
Since 2000, the United States Department of Agriculture has cited Ringling Bros. for violations including improper handling of dangerous animals, unsanitary feeding practices and causing trauma and physical harm to two elephants.

Obviously information from PETA must always be taken with a grain of salt, but the information from the USDA tells no lies: Ringling Bros. have a history of mistreating its animals.

But what really gets me mad is not only are the Ringling Bros. mistreating animals, they are doing it here at Mason.

Aren’t we the school whose goal is to be environmentally friendly? Aren’t we the ones who generate almost no trash at Southside so that we can protect nature?

Doesn’t it seem a tad bit hypocritical that we are so pro-environment, yet we are directly supporting people who routinely harm animals that live on the same Earth that we are trying to protect?

The sad thing is most people don’t even care.

They don’t care about any of the deaths that I mentioned or the countless more that have occurred. Instead, all they want to do is be entertained.

Fine. They can do whatever they want. But I will not be supporting this circus in any way, shape or form.

They treat animals horribly, and despite this fact, people still go watch their shows and support them.

I’m not asking people to change their lifestyle or become an animal rights activist; I’m asking them to see that the practices of Ringling Bros. are just plain wrong and we should be working for change.

You can say that the circus is coming to Mason, but to me, it feels more like the house of horrors.



Save the Frogs! Film Screening by christine
April 13, 2010, 10:04 pm
Filed under: AR Event, ARC Events, Campaign, For the Environment, Video | Tags: , ,

Learn more about amphibians and their vital role on earth, join us Wednesday night to watch the PBS documentary “The Thin Green Line.”

Frogs are the most threatened group of animals on the planet and are rapidly going extinct due to human activity. Nearly one-third of the world’s 6,450 amphibian species are in danger of extinction and up to 200 species have completely disappeared in the last 30 years.

When: April 14, 2010 – 7:00 pm
Where: Student Union II Ballroom

To learn more about amphibian conservation, visit Save the Frogs!



In Broadside: Circus Protesters & GMU Police Injustice by christine
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Mon, 04/05/2010 – 12:49 | Broadside News Editor Yasmin Tadjdeh

Circus protesters claim GMU police injustice: Participants inhibited by barricades and police tape

Over the last two weeks, protesters have gathered around the Patriot Center to rally against the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus for alleged animal cruelty of their circus animals. However, according to some protesters, George Mason University police have been unfairly targeting them and inhibiting their protests.

Through police barricades and caution tape, protesters claim that the Mason police force has been infringing on their right to protest by keeping them away from the public.

“This year when we arrived on campus, there were metal barricades put in place at the top of the steps that lead down from the corner of Roanoke Road and Po River Lane,” said Lisa Qualls, a protester at the event and a volunteer with the local Washington, D.C. based animal’s rights group, Compassion 4 Animals. “Last year, that had been our main protest spot.”

“We were told that the barricades were placed there because, in the past, children were looking over [their] shoulders at us and could have fallen down the steps,” said Qualls.

“The next time we came back, we were told we had to stay outside of the barricades,” said Qualls.“This made it very difficult to leaflet and it created not just a physical barricade, but a psychological one, too. It gives the illusion that we need to be controlled and that we are not approachable. We have never blocked anyone or been threatening. This barricade seems to be a deliberate attempt to suppress our rights.”

Other protesters at the event felt similarly.

“Throughout the demonstrations, the GMU police erected metal barricades whose aim was to enclose circus protesters,” said Nicholas Zinzer, a protester who was issued a trespassing warning on March 27. “Several protesters went behind the metal barricades and were nearly impotent when attempting to disseminate literature and hold visible signs.”

“I was issued a trespass warning at 10 p.m. that day and it will stand for at least one year,” said Zinzer. “The trespass warning is not justified. I was both peaceful and lawful throughout the protests. The GMU police were both aggressive and partial.”

According to Zinzer, he and a group of activists were preparing to leave the Patriot Center after protesting the circus when several Mason police officers approached them. After surrounding Zinzer, Zinzer said he was detained by Lt. Kevin Barrett and issued a trespass warning; he was then escorted off campus.

However, according to Mason police, the trespass warning was warranted.

“We have a designated area for protests, and he [Zinzer] was not cooperative with those directions,” said Deputy Police Chief George Ginovsky. “He didn’t comply with the directions and he was issued a trespass warning. He was escorted from campus without further incident.”

However, Ginovsky said, “If he feels he was mistreated, he needs to make a complaint and we will thoroughly investigate.”

04/21/2008 – Past Article: “Circus Protestors Protest Police Behavior”



ARC in Broadside by christine

Protesters Rally Against Ringling Bros. Circus: Animal Rights Collective Organizes Demonstration

Mon, 03/29/2010 – 12:19 | Broadside News Editor Yasmin Tadjdeh

Mason’s Animal Rights Collective recently organized a demonstration against Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, a performing group which annually visits the Patriot Center(Gabriella Farrugio)
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For some studentsthe idea of a menagerie of animals coming to George Mason University is not one that settles well with them. Beginning this past Thursday, the Patriot Center hosted The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. The circus, which performs annually at Mason, will be here until Sunday, April 4. However, its opening day was met with protests from various local animal rights groups, including Mason’s own Animals Rights Collective.

At the demonstration, protesters gave out literature against the circus and animal cruelty, carried signs that read “Ringling Beats Animals” and wore body television screens, which featured videos from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals organization.

Michael Dupuy, a junior systems engineering major and member of the ARC said, “By hosting the Ringling Circus, [Mason is] directly supporting animal cruelty.”

According to the ARC’s website, gmu.edu/org/arc, they are “a group dedicated to raising awareness about animal rights on our campus and within the surrounding community. ARC was founded by a group of students that came together to protest the Ringling Brothers Circus on campus and to organize events pertaining to animal rights and vegan outreach . . . Our events will work to cease the suffering and exploitation of animals, and to create a greater sense of community on campus.”

Since 1992, at least 26 Ringling elephants have died, said Dupuy. “They keep their lions and tigers in enclosures that are much too small . . . Ringling brings bull hooks [to the campus], which is what they use to make the elephants perform.”

According to the website, RinglingBeatsAnimals.com, a website created by PETA, “Since 2000, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has cited Ringling numerous times for serious violations of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), such as . . . Improper handling of dangerous animals; Failure to provide adequate veterinary care to animals, including an elephant with a large swelling on her leg, a camel with bloody wounds and a camel injured on train tracks; Causing trauma, behavioral stress, physical harm and unnecessary discomfort to two elephants who sustained injuries when they ran amok during a performance; Endangering tigers who were nearly baked alive in a boxcar because of poor maintenance of their enclosures; Failure to test elephants for tuberculosis; Unsanitary feeding practices.”

According to a statement on RinglingBrosTrialInfo.com, a website created by Feld Entertainment, Inc., the parent company of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, on Dec. 30, 2009 a federal court case against Feld Entertainment by the ASPCA and other animal special interest groups that was filed more than nine years ago was dropped.

According to the website, Kenneth Feld, the chief executive of Feld Entertainment said, “‘We are gratified with today’s decision because it is a victory for elephants over those whose radical agenda, if adopted, could lead to the extinction of the species . . . We look forward to focusing on what we do best — providing quality care to our elephants and delivering unique family entertainment options to the public.’”

Dupuy said that in the future, he hopes that Mason would utilize circuses that did not contain animal acts, such as Cirque du Soleil, which is performed completely by humans.



Rethinking Ringling Brothers and GMU: Five Myths by christine
March 29, 2010, 10:08 am
Filed under: AR Event, ARC Events, Campaign, Local Events, Protest, Use Your Voice!

An Injustice Anywhere is an Injustice Everywhere

Myth 1: “The Patriot Center cares about the circus”

The Patriot Center, owned by George Mason University and operated by Washington Sports and Entertainment LP, is interested in profit. Unlike several other GMU venues, such as the Center for the Arts and the Black Box theater, the Patriot Center has few obligations to GMU. Its primary obligation to the university is maximized return on investment.

The Patriot Center embraces Ringling Brothers because it generates millions of dollars in revenue and nearly as much in profit. The Patriot Center cares almost as much for Bob Dylan, who played at the Patriot Center in November 2009, as it does for Ringling Brothers. If the circus did not generate a lot of profit for both Washington Sports and Entertainment and GMU, its contract would not be renewed.

Myth 2: “Circus demonstrations are only about the animals”

This is an example of seeing the trees and missing the forest. While the primary concern and focus of circus protesters is, and should be, the use of non-human animals in the circus, protesters should also challenge corporate power.

George Mason University, Washington Sports and Entertainment, and Ringling Brothers, are all influential entities in the Washington Metropolitan area.

George Mason University is located in Fairfax, Virginia. Washington Sports and Entertainment is based in Washington, DC. Ringling Brothers is owned by Feld Entertainment, which is headquartered in nearby Vienna, Virginia. Their preferences, more often than not, supersede the preferences of individuals.

Unfortunately, all three entities hinder the rights of individuals and instead, embrace an exclusionary corporate model. If protesters are able to push particular boundaries, such as moving closer to the Patriot Center, challenging unjust police orders, and escalating protest tactics, they will set precedent for future demonstrations as well as for individuals who seek to challenge corporate power on campus.

Universities should be progressive. There is nothing progressive about animal abuse and ignoring concerns of both students and community members. Money talks and Ringling Brothers contributes more to the general revenue fund at GMU than protesters and their supporters.

Myth 3: “In 2009, the GMU Police were fair”

Relative to prior demonstrations, the GMU Police in 2009 were less intrusive and more cautious in their treatment of circus protesters. However, several GMU Police officers, including Lt. Kevin Barrett, were seen throughout the first three days of the 2009 demonstrations coordinating with Patriot Center employees and alleviating concerns of the Contemporary Services Corporation (CSC) staff members. The CSC is the company hired for crowd control. It appeared that GMU Lt. Barrett did not want to offend the CSC staff. He also comforted a CSC staff member who was visibly upset.

Everyday of the protests, John F. Besanko, the Assistant General Manager of the Patriot Center, spent much of his time with Lt. Barrett. While this is not an indication of wrongdoing, Lt. Barrett followed Besanko around the Patriot Center and appeared to take orders from him. In contrast, this is misconduct.

On April 11, 2009, a protester was assaulted by a circus patron. The patron hit the protester with her purse without provocation and the protester did not respond. Lt. Barrett did a cursory investigation of the female patron yet threatened to arrest the protester on bogus charges.

Myth 4: “Minimizing contact with the police is rude”

Asserting individual rights is not rude as it upholds Constitutionally protected rights. Ignoring police officers, even when they are asking questions that may seem harmless, is not rude. For example, if an officer asks when you will return to protest, it is okay to ignore the officer and not acknowledge he or she spoke. The officer is attempting to obtain intelligence on your actions and/or your group’s actions.

The only situation when speaking with an officer may be beneficial is when it is unclear if you are being detained. If you suspect you are being detained, ask the officer, “am I being detained?” If the answer is no, then leave. If you are being detained, you are legally obligated to stay with the officer (although you do not have to speak).

Myth 5: “Distributing leaflets and holding signs will stop the circus”

Although animal rights activists moved closer to the Patriot Center in recent years, distributing literature and holding signs will not stop the circus. Ringling Brothers will stop using the Patriot Center, and other facilities, when the social cost of patrons is raised to uncomfortable levels. In turn, their profit will shrink.

Anti-war demonstrators are often effective when they publicly display graphic images of mutilated bodies blown apart by weapons. Supporters of war and occupation, as well as individuals who are indifferent, often find it difficult to view these images. The net effect is often beneficial to the protester and his or her cause.

Broadcasting videos of animals being abused, using loud bullhorns, and publicly displaying graphic pictures of injured or dead circus animals, can be effective.

This should be targeted at rational individuals. For example, children should be shown intense images but not harassed or followed. If a parent or patron is receptive, try something mild. If a parent or patron is indifferent, drastically raise the social cost of attending the circus to the point where it becomes extremely uncomfortable to be present.