There has been some new attention given to Animal Rights in Grand Rapids, with the efforts by numerous people to get the City of Grand Rapids to take a position on allowing the circus to preform in town.
The group Grand Rapids for Animals encouraged people to use this online letter to pressure city officials to ban the use of wild animals in entertainment.
Grand Rapids for Animals has been active for years, but is not the first group to organize around animal rights and animal liberation.
Beginning in the 1980s, the group known as West Michigan for Animals, organized around a whole array of animal rights campaigns, like a lot of their contemporaries across the country.
West Michigan for Animals organized protests against the murder of animals for food, with protests at Fast Food Restaurants and slaughterhouses, like the one pictured here.
In addition, West Michigan for Animals organized a large protest outside the Amway Grand Plaza in 1994, during the US Cattlemen’s Association Conference. The local media attempted to marginalize the group by asking the question of whether or not the the Cattlemen’s Association was the same as mass murderer Jeffrey Dahmer. Organizers of the protest responded by saying, “If the systemic slaughter of millions of cows a year for profit is not mass murder, then what do you call it?”
West Michigan for Animals also took on a local rodeo that was held in Sparta for years, as well as anytime the Circus came to Grand Rapids.
Another major area of protest was around the fur industry. West Michigan for Animals protested at a store that sold animal furs, located near the Gaslight Village, in East Grand Rapids. Besides leafletting against the business, the group would sometimes organize street theater and hold a mock fur event, where those protesting would splash red paint on fake fur coats to dramatize the brutality done to animals.
In the early 1990s the group organized protests at “fur shows” in the old Grand Center, located on Monroe, where the new convention center exists.
These are just a sampling of the kinds of actions that people engaged in around animal rights and animal liberation. It is important to note that the current effort to get the city to ban the use of animals at the circus, is built on decades of activism around the rights of animals.