Animal rights activists protest in downtown East Lansing
A small group of protesters, clad in black and wearing the white Guy Fawkes masks usually associated with the “hacktivist” group Anonymous, drew attention outside of the East Lansing Marriott on Albert Avenue on Sunday afternoon.
The group of around ten protesters were, in fact, volunteers for an organization called Anonymous for the Voiceless, an animal rights organization that specializes in street activism. They advocate for an end to factory farming and are pro-veganism.
Mike Holmes, a volunteer from Windsor, Ontario, explained why Anonymous for the Voiceless has adopted the iconography of Anonymous.
“The masks are to attract attention, and to keep the focus off of us and on the animals,” Holmes said.
“The group takes an abolitionist stance on animal products,” Chase DeBack, a volunteer at the protest, said. According to DeBack, this was the group’s first event in the Lansing area. They chose the East Lansing Marriott because of its central location.
“We try to get as many eyes as possible,” DeBack said.
MSU was also chosen because of its role as an agricultural school.
“With its involvement in the dairy farming industry, we felt it was really important to spread the word on what standard practice farming means,” DeBack said.
The demonstration took the form of a “cube of truth” — four protesters, clad in Anonymous masks, holding up laptops and TV screens playing documentaries about animal abuses in factory farming.
Holmes offered curious passersby a virtual reality headset that played a documentary by a group called Animal Equality that highlights the conditions in factory pig farms. The video included footage of the cramped conditions in which pigs are held, as well as of piglets being castrated.
Lillian Holmes, Holmes’ mother, said that she and her family switched “cold turkey” to being vegan four years ago after she had a heart attack. She said that she has been able to lose 70 pounds and feels better than ever.