From the NNAL Tour:
Leaving New York City was a bittersweet occurrence on this tour. There are a myriad of pressure points in the NYC area, and it is one of the campaign's most strategic locations. But after a week of actions against Skanska and strategizing with local organizers, it was time again to hit the road. NYC marked the eastern-most tour stop for us, and the springboard from which we would head back to Seattle for the October 2nd March on the University of Washington.
We first drove to Buffalo for a presentation at Burning Books, a community space and book store that has become a nexus of organizing and radicalism in Buffalo. We gave a presentation to a full room who responded with strong support for the campaign, and also shared space that night with another tour--To Change Everything--which has been hosting international panel discussions on anarchist organizing and movement building. Thanks to Theresa, Nate, and Leslie for hosting!
From Buffalo we continued west to Chicago, where we gave another presentation at the Chicago Publisher's Resource Center. Local group Chicago Coalition for Animal Rights has been organizing protests against Skanska, so it was a fruitful discussion about continued organizing and campaigning locally.
After Chicago we decided to take a bit of a detour south to Evansville, IN, Skanska's hub for industrial development projects. Skanska has a strong corporate presence in the city, and appears to employ a large sector of the workforce. Evansville is a small industrial city in the heart of the midwest--not a place typical of animal liberation organizing or community presence. One would think that this dynamic probably made it all the more startling when we stormed into their corporate offices with bullhorns, signs, and a whirlwind of hundreds of flyers. Yet it was clear that even in Evansville, Skanska had heard about No New Animal Lab. Employees and management responded quickly to take photos and call the police. Unfortunately for them, they were too slow on the draw.
Some of those same employees--such as SVP Dan Hoefling and EVP Denny Quinn--were lucky enough to get additional, personalized visits. After a hectic day at the office, both Dan and Denny came home that night to messages written in chalk, as a friendly reminder that the No New Animal Lab campaign understands that busy corporate executives don't want to take their work home with them, so we will do it for you!
Between the coasts, Skanska offices are fairly sparse. But with enough research, you can find those executives that might otherwise fall through the cracks. Brian C. Stieritz is an Executive Vice President of Skanska USA who lives in Broomfield, CO, just outside of Denver. Denver doesn't have a Skanska office, so Brian's location is a bit surprising. Nearly destined to be a loner, he found himself in the warm embrace of Denver's anarchist and animal liberation community.
Activists first arrived early to chalk in front of his house as a welcome message upon his return from work. A larger group came back later that night, just to ensure that he didn't feel left out of the fun that his coastal counterparts got to experience. The timing was right--Brian had just pulled into his garage. A very loud protest followed, starting at his doorstep--Brian apparently doesn't answer his doorbell, so we had to make sure he could hear us--then moving to the sidewalk and street. Neighbors and cops quickly poured in. Lonely Brian was now the very clear center of attention. This is what he wanted. After all, he chose to be an executive at a company profiting from animal captivity and suffering, and he chose to remain silent when the public voiced concern.
Our final stop before returning to the Northwest was in Salt Lake City. Our contacts here are animal liberation activists, land defenders, and migrant justice activists, all of whom helped to set up a presentation about pressure campaigning at Boing! Anarchist Collective. Most of the people in attendance organize with Utah Tar Sands Resistance, which has been the leading force resisting tar sands exploration and mining in the Tavaputs Plateau of eastern central Utah, on the occupied territory of the Ute. The night was a fruitful discussion about coalition organizing and pressure campaign tactics, and we shared our experiences and insight as campaigners for animal liberation.
Now we head to back to the center of the campaign, Seattle, in preparation for the second March on the University of Washington. Not a day has passed on this tour where we have not lamented the fate that would await the countless animals--the dogs, cats, monkeys, rabbits, Guinea pigs, pigs, mice, rats--slated for lives of captivity, suffering, and death inside of the Animal Research and Care Facility. Every moment leads to confronting UW and Skanska. We will stop this lab. You will stop this lab. But you need to join us in the streets. Be there one week from today. Fight for animal liberation. Resist in solidarity.