Office Protests and Surprise Home Demos: Pressure Continues in the NW

From Seattle and Portland activists: 

While Skanska and UW have been using this last week to recover from the direct action that stopped all site work on Monday, campaigners in the Seattle and Portland have kept on the pressure. Rather than take any breaks, which would allow Skanska or UW some breathing room, activists quickly got active on the streets to resume office protests and home demos.

On Friday, only four days after the lockdown, the Seattle Skanska office was visited by a large crowd of protesters. Inspired by Monday's action, more and more animal advocates are getting involved in the No New Animal Lab campaign. The protest on Friday was loud and full of energy, a sign that Skanska and UW only have more battles up ahead.

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Since Skanska executives have been quietly regrouping and laying low since Monday, Portland activists decided to take the opportunity to make a surprise visit to the home of David Schmidt. David of course signed the contract for the lab project, and, like all of his Seattle peers, has chosen stubborn silence and police intervention as his preferred response to opposition.

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Activists in Seattle had the same idea about surprise home demos on Sunday evening, and they started with a visit to the home of UW Vice Provost Paul Jenny at 2534 8th Ave. W, Seattle. Jenny was one of the primary people who pushed the Board of Regents to vote for the lab, and so he cannot escape from the pressure of the campaign. As usual in Jenny's neighborhood, people tried to stop the protests; his next door neighbor even ran his lawnmower, but that couldn't drown out the loud chanting, and people from all over the neighborhood gathered to see what was going on. After the protest, one neighbor followed the protesters to talk with them. She kindly told the protesters about how she cares about animals and thinks that animal research is horrible, and she praised them for actually thinking about what happens to animals and doing something about it. However, she didn't understand the use of home demos, so the protesters explained to her how we have called, emailed, sent letters, gone to the UW campus...but Jenny has yet to even speak with protesters, so we have to take things to his front door. Even though many of Jenny's neighbors have talked to protesters--whether to express their outrage over protests or their support for caring about animals--he has yet to come out of his house, choosing instead to hide just as the UW intends to hide animals underground.

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The group of protesters next went to the home of Peter Maslenikov. Peter works for Skanska, and he is the Project Manager for the building of the new lab. As activists started the protest, Peter closed his window, but they let him know that closing his window won't shut out this campaign; it continues to be a growing global movement to stop the lab from being built. As the chants echoed through the neighborhood, people came from all directions, asking what the protest about. When the protesters explained, many said that they'd heard about the new UW lab and that they supported the protest. In addition to neighbors, police arrived. The first cop car pulled up in front of Peter's house, and he came out to tell the cop that the protest was "embarrassing." He must felt even more embarrassed when seven more police vehicles showed up and neighbors stood laughing at the site...and none of the cops did anything to stop the protesters. Instead, one officer told the protesters to have a good night. If Peter is so embarrassed by people protesting his facilitation of animal torture...then maybe he should stop facilitating animal torture.

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David, Peter, and the rest of Skanska's executive team are well aware of the impact of Monday's lockdown. They think that they can just weather this media frenzy and surge of activity. They think it will simply pass and that they can resume work and business as usual.

They are wrong. In this campaign, surprises are going to keep popping up. Whether unannounced visits at their homes on sunny Sunday evenings or blockades of lab construction on cold early mornings, Skanska, UW, and now Northwest Construction can expect that we follow through on our word.

We will escalate pressure. They will not build this lab.