Report back from Portland:
From Portland to BC, it has been a busy weekend for animal advocates in the Northwest involved in the No New Animal Lab campaign. On Saturday people traveled from as far as Vancouver and Portland to converge in Seattle. For six hours, around 30 activists went from home to home of decision makers involved in the Animal Research & Care Facility. We took the campaign directly to the front door of Skanska executives and project leaders, the UW president, and the Chair of the UW Board of Regents. It was an exhilarating and exhausting day, but the fervor did not end that night in Seattle.
The following evening upon arriving back in Portland, local lab opponents kept the momentum going and brought it to the home of David Schmidt, Co-COO of Skanska USA. David "Schimdty" Schmidt is responsible for NW operations of Skanska USA and is based out of the Portland office. As Chief Operating Officer for the Northwest region, Schmidty manages regional projects and overseas business operations, like contract acquisition. He authorized the current contract between UW and Skanska. He had the choice to reject the lab project before it began, saving himself and Skanska USA from being dragged into this campaign. Instead, he signed the lives of thousands of animals away in exchange for $90 million. The paper trail lead us directly to him.
Given that David has had ample yet unheeded opportunity to address our concerns--the public has protested outside his office, called his office number, sent emails to his office, even called his home phone--it only seems fair that the message be delivered to him directly, face to face. So on Sunday evening a group of activists surprised David with an unannounced home demonstration. Everyone walked up to his front door, politely waiting for him to answer the door bell and our determined knocking. We knew he was home; we could hear him scrambling behind the door. He even peered out the window, then quickly fled and declared, "Yup! We got activists!" to whomever else was in the house with him, presumably his wife. He called the police and attempted to record and photograph the protest from between window blinds. It was nice to know that he was clearly aware of the previous day's events. David didn't want to talk with us, even though we gave him this uninhibited opportunity. So we started the protest right then on his doorstep, to hold him accountable for his callous indifference toward the suffering and exploitation that he has abetted. What followed was a loud and energetic call out to the neighborhood-- David Schmidt has blood on his hands and until he uses his power and influence to terminate the contract with UW, activists will continue to pressure him at his home, at his office, at his country club, or anywhere else where he enjoys the solitude and comfort of his affluence. The message was clear--we will be back!