Fur, leather stores targeted: ‘Forty dead animals, one fur coat’ | ParkRecord.com

Fur, leather stores targeted: ‘Forty dead animals, one fur coat’

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

Animal-rights activists staged a demonstration on Friday on Main Street outside fur sellers and stores dealing in leather goods, conveying their distaste with the products as shoppers passed by.

Some of them held gruesome signs of pictures of slaughtered animals and yelled anti-industry chants. Approximately 20 activists lined small stretches of the sidewalk as they chanted rallying cries like "Fur is a sin. Wear your own skin," "Stop the torture, stop the death," and "Forty dead animals, one fur coat."

They targeted stores like Overland Sheepskin Co. and Norsk Leather & Fur Inc., both within earshot of each other as the demonstrators chanted. The group heckled people as they entered the stores on Black Friday, and the chants could be heard along much of the bottom half of Main Street.

"Fur is the definition of unnecessary animal suffering," Jeremy Beckham, one of the organizers, said in an interview.

The Main Street event was the first of two planned on consecutive days, with the Saturday demonstration scheduled in the mink-farm hotbed of Morgan. The Friday gathering was timed to reach the crowds of shoppers on Main Street on the day after Thanksgiving.

The Park City Police Department assigned three officers to monitor the demonstrators. Jim Snyder, a sergeant who was on Main Street, said there had not been serious problems through 1 p.m. Snyder, though, had taken approximately six photographs of the demonstrators as part of the department’s intelligence-gathering operation.

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There are occasional animal-rights demonstrations on Main Street, with its concentration of fur sellers and stores that sell leather goods. The Friday event was similar to others that have been staged on the street.

Beckham claimed that faux fur products are a viable option nowadays, saying that "millions of animals would be saved every year" if the faux fur was used in clothing. In Utah, he claimed, hundreds of thousands of animals are raised and killed, primarily mink, in the fur industry.

"Five hundred thousand that don’t need to die," he said.

Inside Overland Sheepskin Co., one of the stores targeted on Thursday, the company’s vice president, Jay Flint, said the demonstrators were "disrupting the whole town" and were "rude to all the people" even as he supported their free-speech rights to hold the protest.

Flint said the sheepskin industry produces "very little waste." He said some of the goods he sells are "byproducts" of the food industry, using a leather jacket as an example.

"This was a burger. The byproduct is leather," Flint said.

Meanwhile, a top-ranking figure in a mink-farming trade association went to Main Street to observe the demonstration. Teresa Platt, the executive director of the Coronado, Calif.-based Fur Commission USA, said products made from animals are preferred over ones made with synthetic materials, claiming the synthetic materials do not biodegrade like animal products do.

"There’s a lot of rejection of synthetics for a lot of reasons," she said, calling the demonstrators "misguided."