2/22/14 Saturday was a sunny 40 degree day, with wind gusts up to 50mph! Fifteen activists joined ARAUNY’s YellowWall Vigil … still, silent, peaceful, holding bright yellow homemade signs to honor squirrels, massacred just up the road in Holley that very day. Our vigil reached countless folks driving through the intersection of Rts 31 and 19 in Brockport. Some took pictures of us as they drove past, some took them when stopped at the light, and one woman approached us on the sidewalk and took an orange ARAUNY leaflet *Ban Wildlife Killing Contests in NYS*.
No media covered our vigil, despite Joel Helfrich’s clarifying that this action would be different from a protest. We thank Peg Haust and Maureen Schiener who each filmed us on their video cameras, then Maureen interviewed Joel and myself, eventually to be made into a documentary to highlight our nonconfrontational, peaceful manner of working to end animal abuse. I took photos too (attached). Legislation is the ONLY action that can end wildlife killing contests. We must all continue to work diligently on this effort.
ARAUNY’s vigil was in direct response to an outburst of opinions from the vast majority of area activists, overwhelmingly opposed to another (FoA) *protest* in Holley. Area activists stated this was because protesting drew out many more hunters, thus killing many more animals, as proven in 2013. Alternately, most AR activists in UNY/WNY expressed an interest in a peaceful, non-confrontational action … so ARAUNY planned this vigil (only for members of ARAUNY).
When our private-invitation-vigil was accidentally publicized in the Post papers, the only practical option other than canceling was moving the time back one hour. This inconvenienced every one of us, esp those who traveled long distances (Clyde, Ithaca, Buffalo) ~ yet everyone came. Your collective commitment for a peaceful action for the animals is inspiring.
Moving our vigil to a different time was essential to avoid anticipated confrontations. After lengthy emergency conversations, this decision was made by several of us who’ve had far too many horrific experiences over many years. It was a necessary change to keep vigillers safe, and to assure we could keep our energy and focus directly on the animals in a peaceful manner, an important aspect for vigil participants.
2:00pm on the dot, a police officer came by to check on us, and several sheriff’s cars began to drive by every few minutes ~ something we’d requested and appreciate. Sure enough and as feared, trouble was just beginning … a pick up truck stopped in front of us at the light, the men beeped and waved, and from inside their vehicle dangled dead squirrels at us, smiled and laughed and sped away. Thus the word was out among hunters that we were there. Shortly afterwards, our group disbanded, not just from the squirrel danglers, but from the ~50mph wind gusts we’d endured for over an hour.
Later that day, Friends of Animals held their protest in Holley (ARAUNY’s vigil was scheduled specifically to allow ample time for people to participate in both if they wished – Brockport and Holley are just miles apart). Approx. 250 people signed up on FoA’s Facebook page to travel from far away and participate in FoA’s protest, but according to reports, only 10(?) joined Edita Birnkrant’s protest this year. It is worth noting that weeks ago when Edita first emailed me she had another protest planned for this year, I informed her that 99% of the activists in Upstate/Western NY conveyed (on many email lists) that they were strongly opposed to protesting the Squirrel Slam again … because protesting Holley hunters the day of the Squirrel Slam only fed the bloodlust of additional hunters. I asked if FoA would alter plans for a peaceful vigil. FoA ignored this information and proceeded with their protest.
It appears only two local media sources covered Friends of Animals’ protest in Holley this year, each biased in favor of the hunters. Democrat and Chronicle newspaper and WHEC-TV10.
Thank you to ARAUNY’s YellowWall Vigil Vegans and your wonderful signs: Valerie, Maureen, Gabrielle, Peg, Tina and daughter, Martha, Carol, Kathy, Felicity and Gerry, Joel, Jack, Greg and Lois.
See photos here.
Advocate Daily For Animals,
~Lois Baum, President
Animal Rights Advocates of Upstate NY
*The squirrel that you kill in jest
dies in earnest.*