Monday, April 07, 2008

Ringling Bros Barnum & Bailey Circus. Protest. Madison Square Garden. April 5, 2008.

This was the third Saturday in a row that animal rights activists protested the circus at the Garden in New York City. I am not sure what groups were represented at the demonstrations, but certainly NJ Animal Rights Alliance (NJARA) and NYC Animal took part in them. I am both a member of PETA and the NJARA. I was glad to make it to last Saturday's demo, having missed the first two. Most of the demonstrators worked from 2pm until 8pm covering both shows that day. One group positioned themselves at 34th street and 7th Avenue and another group worked the corner of 32nd street and 7th Avenue, across the street from the Garden's main entrance. We had the usual loud speakers and projection screen ( actually a white sheet ) to inform and visually show the crowds the cruelty that circus animals go through. People gawked at the video images, realizing only then that cruelty actually happens at the circus. Some people have no clue! It pleased me to see the sudden realization in their faces. Knowing that more people have become aware of the problem, I believe that their disgust will grow exponentially among other people. These are my sentiments exactly. It's about getting the word out there, changing minds, spreading information, proselytizing.

My wife curiously asked me if I yell and scream at demonstrations. Well, no. That's why we have those loud speakers. Taped messages are played over them while video images are projected on a screen. I meet people, hand out literature about cruelty in circuses, engage people in a conversation about the lives of circus animals, suggest alternatives to animal circuses ( the Big Apple Circus stopped using animals; Cirque de Soleil has no animals ), and I urge them on to visit where they can get more information about the problem.

The confluence of the exits/entrances and the sidewalks served me very well. It's the best place to meet the people who actually paid to see the circus. Some people resented my raining on their parade---I carried a large poster of a miserable, old, chained elephant, as if to shove it up their faces--- but this is something I have to do.

Being courteous and pleasant with the public is a must. I wished those with prepaid tickets a nice evening, but to avoid the circus next time---now that they have an idea of the inherent cruelty in animal circuses. One lady told me that our video presentation turned her off to the circus, and I handed her some literature for further reading. Most people are equally pleasant, but there are some who figuratively thumbed their noses at me. I talked to a large group, probably ten people, who knew nothing about the cruelty. They were not there to watch, but only passing by. Nevertheless, they are now ten people who know better. The word is that attendance at the circus is down, and Ringling is giving away free tickets as a promotional gimmick. I did not get the chance to take a lot of photos. The following are the only photos I took of the demonstration:

Our base at 32nd St. and 7th Avenue. People cross here and exposure is great.

This is Benjamin. I met him for the first time on Saturday. He carried the same poster I did.

Our small desk and projection area across Madison Square Garden

Two ladies taking their case to the street

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