Park City animal rights event: ‘Your fur coat belonged to someone’ |

Park City animal rights event: ‘Your fur coat belonged to someone’

Animal-rights activists Jori Schmalz, left, and Lauren Lockey hold signs as shoppers pass the Alaska Fur Gallery on Main Street on Saturday during a small demonstration. Some of the demonstrators are worried fur appears to be making a fashion comeback. The activists say they may hold additional demonstrations in coming months.
Tanzi Propst/Park Record

Animal-rights activists held a small demonstration outside a Main Street fur seller on Saturday, drawing the attention of passersby and the police during a subdued but nonetheless unwavering event that highlighted what the activists see as the suffering of animals killed for their pelts.

The activists targeted Alaska Fur Gallery, a store toward the middle of Main Street, on a day when holiday crowds descended on the shopping, dining and entertainment strip. Some of the activists carried signs with messages like “Animals are not ours to wear,” “Fur is dead,” “Animals deserve better” and “Your fur coat belonged to someone.” They also showed videos on portable screens depicting conditions in the fur industry. The demonstration involved approximately 12 activists. Several Park City police officers monitored the gathering.

The demonstrators at some points traded brief words with passersby who oppose the cause pressed by the animal-rights activists. In one case, a demonstrator and a heckler held an exchange in earshot of the rest of the activists. The demonstrator told the passerby to “Enjoy your Canada Goose torture hat.” “I love it,” the heckler responded. In another case, a person in a vehicle driving by, apparently supporting the demonstrators, yelled “Burn it down.”

The Police Department said there were no major incidents related to the demonstration.

Justus Minardi, an animal-rights activist who is from Park City and now lives in Sandy, was one of the organizers, saying the event was scheduled to coincide with the large holiday crowds on Main Street over the weekend. Minardi also said it is believed Alaska Fur Gallery is among the highest-selling fur stores in Utah.

“Before New Year’s, the sale of fur is going to be going on,” he said.

Minardi said animals that are killed for the fur industry endure horrid living conditions before they are killed. The slaughters are also carried out in terrible fashion, he said.

“It’s just like a factory farm for meat,” Minardi said.

He said fur appears to be making a fashion comeback. He said fur companies are attempting to convince customers lots of the articles of clothing are made with the pelts of animals like coyotes that have been hunted, something that could reduce resistance to the products. He labeled the idea “humane washing.”

“It’s like greenwashing (from) the perspective of animals,” Minardi said, referring to the concept of promoting environmentalism while continuing practices that degrade the planet. “They’re trying to make it look like it’s a nice thing.”

He suggested alternatives like faux fur products made from synthetic materials.

Minardi said the animal-rights movement is part of the evolution of social justice. He said people will look back at the fur industry and say “I can’t believe we used to do that.”

Minardi said he hopes to stage demonstrations in Park City during busy times, such as during the Sundance Film Festival and later in the ski season. Summertime demonstrations could also be scheduled.

The demonstration on Saturday was the latest in a string of similar gatherings along Main Street targeting fur-selling stores over the years. The events typically draw a small number of activists, such as the one on Saturday.

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