Brooklyn Clothing fur protest continues past two months

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The Vancouver Animal Defense League protest in front of Brooklyn Clothing began Nov. 6, 2013, and two months later it is still ongoing.

VADL wants Brooklyn Clothing, located on Davie and Homer Streets, to adopt a fur free policy. They are claiming some products sold at Brooklyn are created through animal cruelty. On the group’s Facebook Page, they appear to have accumulated 130 signatures as of Jan. 2 in support of the protests.

However, Jason Overbo, owner of Brooklyn Clothing, refuses to give in to protesters. In addition, the legality and conduct of the protests is being questioned by both the owner and some nearby residents.

The protesters have been described as “aggressive” and “bullies” and a petition called Urge Vancouver Police to Keep Yaletown Protests Legal has been recently created. See below for letters from the owner and a nearby resident.

Open letter to the protest group from Brooklyn Clothing owner Jason Overbo

Brooklyn Clothing Jason Overbo

I told you I’d keep an open mind. I agreed to meet with you. I promised to do my research. And I have.

I’ve thoroughly studied all the websites you provided as well as several others. In addition, I’ve heard from trappers and local residents who’ve encountered coyotes. I talked to a B.C. wildlife biologist and habitat control officer. I’ve talked to my vendors, my neighbors and many, many of my customers. I’ve read the articles. I’ve watched the videos.

In short, I’ve gathered as much information (from both sides) as possible. Sadly, much of the information on the internet is unsubstantiated.

Unverifiable “facts” abound and statistics with no references are just numbers pulled from thin air that can’t, in good conscience, be taken seriously. I’ve even encountered outright lies. Trying to separate the truth from the fiction is extremely difficult…

So, what can I do?

Well, if I believed even half of what you claim, I’d be out there marching with you. But wild, unsupported allegations and horrible photos are not the same as proof. In many cases, you don’t even come close to connecting the dots… you just match a horrific image to an unverified charge, and away you go…

Of course, I’m not naive. I know Canada Goose and the Fur Council spin the facts to make themselves look good. That’s their job.

But, at the same time, these are major Canadian corporations subject to intense scrutiny from all sides. They ARE being held accountable. They’re held accountable by you, by the government we elect and by the public who buys (or doesn’t buy) their products.

But, who holds you protestors accountable? It’s too politically incorrect to speak out against you, so you operate with impunity. You lie and say Brooklyn sells dog fur and what can I do about it? Take you to court?

All I can do is pray that people don’t accept your accusations blindly, that they have the common sense to get all the facts before coming to a conclusion.

Humanity has used animals as a resource since the beginning of time… for food, for clothing and as beasts of burden. Either we’re okay with that or we’re not. Obviously, you are not.

In fact, I’m guessing that in your perfect world, we wouldn’t eat meat at all (or butter or eggs), we wouldn’t wear leather shoes, or down coats or wool sweaters. Heck, we wouldn’t even have pets. And, you know what? You’re entitled to your opinion and your way of life… knock yourself out. BUT, YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO FORCE YOUR BELIEFS ON ME OR ANYONE ELSE.

Despite your attacks, I’ll meet with you again. I have just two conditions.

You need to stop breaking the law and you need to demonstrate some common decency and respect when dealing with the citizens of this community (especially women and young children).

Think about it… if you continue to bully and intimidate innocent people, you will NEVER win sympathy for your cause.

Make your point, but don’t be a jerk about it. If you agree to those two simple things, I will meet with you again. I will continue to listen to what you have to say.

– Jason Overbo, Brooklyn Clothing

A letter from a nearby resident

I am writing to inform you of my experiences and frustration with the Vancouver Animal Defense League protests outside your store. I have made attempts to engage with them on their Facebook page but, upon expressing concern regarding their tactics, I was immediately blocked.

They are clearly not interested in disscussion of any kind.

I am a property owner who works at home. My suite is across the street from your store. Every day, when the protest arrives, their screaming and full volume chanting forces me out of my home and away from my work, my livelihood.

I feel that I have no rights, as a tax paying homeowner, to the enjoyment of the property I saved all my life to buy.

The other day I purchased a pair of jeans from your store. Upon departure I was surrounded by 12 to 15 people screaming at full volume “this is what an animal abuser looks like!” over and over again. It was very frightening (not to mention deeply insulting as I am a vegan, an animal rescuer and was wearing no fur or leather). I came home feeling completely terrorized in my own community.

A few days later I was walking my neighbour’s 88-year-old mother to a doctor’s appointment in Yaletown and we walked by the protesters. They immediately began screaming, full volume, at her because of the fake fur collar on her coat.

They stood in front of her and put signs close to her face. She was using a walker and almost fell over from fright. I had to sit her down at JJ Bean to allow her some time to calm down. This could have been very serious, she has a pacemaker.

This behavior is terrorism and has no place in civil society. We are being held hostage to angry, aggressive bullies on a daily basis and we need the city to protect our basic rights as owners and residents of this community.

Please lobby the city on behalf of your neighbours and ask them to protect the taxpayers’ right to safety and quiet enjoyment. Please ask them to restrict these terrorist tactics. Please let me know what I can do to help.

– nearby resident of Brooklyn Clothing

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