Today the No New Animal Lab campaign took over the office of the University of Washington's President Ana Mari Cauce. Supporters of the campaign first met for a rally at the UW's famed Drumheller Fountain, and then brought the rally throughout the campus. People marched through Red Square, where they used bullhorns to announce to student onlookers that the UW needs to end all investment in the continued use of animals in research. The crowd of campaign supporters then walked with signs and banners to the student union building...where they walked inside with bullhorns at full volume. Chants of "No New Animal Lab" echoed through the building. People then marched to the entrance of the Magnuson Health Sciences Building, where the UW keeps many of the primates and other animals that it tortures and kills. The doors were locked to keep protesters out, consistent with UW's pattern of shutting out public criticism of animal testing. The protest then returned to Red Square, where Gerberding Hall is located. Gerberding Hall holds the Regents Office and the office of Vice Provost Paul Jenny, and on the third floor is the office of the UW President. This office was what the protesters had their eye on, and this was to be the finale of the rally through campus.
The crowd of campaign supporters entered the building through a side door, and with bullhorns going strong and people chanting at the top of their lungs, they all made their way up the stairwell and into the President's office. They continued to chant, and some people sat down to illustrate the commitment to holding the space. The office soon also filled with police officers, but the energy of the crowd did not quiet. Rather, everyone showed the administration that this campaign means it when we chant, "If you build it, we will come!" The President and her representatives refused to meet with anyone--preferring to continue to keep their plans for the expansion of animal research at the UW away from accountability. Despite UW's further reeling from public scrutiny, protesters successfully shut down the floor, forcing administrative officials to close and lock the doors while police stood guard of the President's office. When the crowd decided to leave the office, it was with the sentiment that if the administration won't meet with us, we'll just force them to pay attention to the opposition to the new lab anyway. The crowd left the building as loudly as it had entered.
It is time to pay attention to this campaign, and that's not just for the UW and Skanska. It is time for the grassroots movement of people who want to protect animals from the clutches of money-fueled exploitation to pay attention to this campaign. This campaign has awoken the sleeping giant of the animal liberation movement, and now it's time for that giant to roar.