Last November, Taylor Freeman, a Vancouver fur protester, was told by the Vancouver Police Department that if he ever so much as walked past Snowflake Furs again, he would be arrested for criminal harassment. Snowflake Furs is Western Canada’s largest all-fur retailer.
Now, Animal Justice has filed a police misconduct complaint with B.C.’s Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner. The complaint explains that Mr. Freeman has been peacefully protesting Snowflake Furs for nearly two years without incident, and that the Vancouver Police’s threat significantly curtails Mr. Freeman’s rights to free expression and to procedural fairness.
The Animal Justice complaint is the subject of in-depth reporting by the Canadian Press. The article includes interviews with spokespeople for the B.C. Civil Liberties Association and Pivot Legal Society, who both agreed that the actions of the Vancouver Police were concerning. If Mr. Freeman’s conduct had been a genuine problem, there would be appropriate, Charter-compliant legal avenues available to both the fur retailer and the police.
Numerous protesters confirmed to Animal Justice that Mr. Freeman’s behaviour was not notably different from that of other protesters. Many stated that, on the contrary, they admired Mr. Freeman’s patience and diplomacy in the face of what could sometimes be a heated protest environment. Mr. Freeman is the only dark-skinned protester; singling him out for “aggression”—a racial stereotype—raises discrimination concerns.
It is well-documented that the fur industry harms animals. The Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals explains that animals on fur farms “routinely develop severe physical and psychological conditions, including deformed limbs, organ failure, depression, and cannibalism.” Of the animals trapped in the wild, “many animals die trying to free themselves, as well as from dehydration, blood loss and hypothermia. Many animals become so desperate, they resort to chewing or wringing off their own trapped limbs in order to escape, breaking teeth and bones in the process.”
To see a copy of the police misconduct complaint, please click here.