By Daniel Rothberg
For Ellie Diamant ’11, Black Friday was not about shopping this year. While she still visited stores in Beverly Hills, including Barneys, Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus, it was certainly not for the blowout sales.
Instead, Diamant joined about 80 anti-fur demonstrators to protest animal cruelty within the fur industry.
“I’m quite a big animal rights activist and I think the cruelty toward animals on fur farms is just overwhelming and completely wrong,” Diamant, a member of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said. “A good day to protest…is Black Friday, when everybody is actually shopping.”
Participants at the annual “Fur Free Friday Demonstration and March,” which was organized by four different animal rights organizations, screamed several chants, including “there is no excuse for animal abuse” and “fur trade, death trade,” Diamant said. “We basically went around Beverly Hills…standing out [in front of stores] for a while with our signs, screaming and giving leaflets to people that were there.”
This was nothing new for Diamant, who has now been to a total of three animal rights demonstrations.
The other two protests were at the Beverly Center and in Hollywood, targeted seal clubbing and exotic skins.
“I guess I’ve always felt a great connection to animals,” Diamant said.
Diamant, who is now a vegan, said her interest in animal rights increased at about the same time she choose to adopt a vegetarian diet about five years ago.
“Ever since [becoming a vegetarian], I’ve been getting more involved, and I guess the turning point…was probably when I went vegan,” she said. “I learned a lot about everything going on in terms of animal use.”
During the Black Friday protest, Diamant said that the demonstrators faced some negative reactions from both stores and shoppers.
“Neiman Marcus locked their doors while we were out there,” she said. “That was really awesome. Some people that actually had fur on were [also] a bit angry.”
Despite these responses, Diamant thought that, in general, the protest was met with positive reactions.
“[People] felt bad… when they looked at the pictures we were holding up and the information we were giving them,” she said.
Demonstrators held posters that featured brutally slaughtered animals and slogans such as “your fur had a face” and “violent fashion for the cruel of heart.”
In addition to protesting, Diamant is highly involved in spreading information about different animal awareness campaigns. She sends messages to politicians, companies and friends to spread awareness for her cause.
“Trying to get people informed about what is going on is the biggest thing I’ve done,” she said. “Most people would say that what goes on is wrong. The problem is that people aren’t well informed about how cruel everything gets.”