Animal rights activists hit several Vancouver-area fur stores Red paint a reminder of ‘innocent blood spilled in vicious trade’

By Kim Pemberton
Vancouver Sun
May 23, 2012Four Vancouver fur stores have been targeted by the Animal Liberation Front, an extreme animal rights group willing to resort to illegal activities like vandalism and arson. On Monday buckets of red paint were splashed on windows and signs at Capilano Furs, Speiser Furs, Snowflake Canada and Pappas Furs “to remind the public of the innocent blood spilled every day in the vicious fur trade,” said an anonymous press release signed by ALF.“This action is dedicated to the hundreds of thousands of mink suffering and dying on the many, filthy, polluted fur farms in the Lower Mainland.”

The release also claims the ALF went to the home of Capilano Furs owner Eugene Klein on May 21st and spray-painted a dodge truck and a volkswagon sitting in his driveway. Klein confirmed two cars and the sign outside his North Vancouver home, where he conducts his business, were vandalized. He called the perpetrators “yellow-bellied cowards.” “They come in the middle of the night and do damage. They don’t have enough guts to come to me and say something,” he said, adding he hasn’t been deterred. “It wasn’t the first time and it won’t be the last. This won’t change nothing. I’ve been doing this for 60 years and I’ll do this till my dying days.”

The animal activists also singled out Megan Halprin, co-owner of Snowflake Canada, saying they also went to her house but didn’t bother to throw paint again since there was still some on the door from their last visit. “The sign outside of your house says ‘The right to free speech does not include harassment, trespassing and vandalism.’ Well, the right to earn a fair living does not include torturing, abusing and murdering others,” the ALF release states. Halprin said the ALF did not target her home Monday, as they have in the past. Rather the group chose instead to target the business she co-owns with her sister, Rokie Bernstein. Halprin said red paint was thrown on the windows, doors and column of the Snowflake store at Pender and Howe.

“They’re trying to make it uncomfortable for our landlords to have us as tenants,” she said. “For some reason they’ve glommed onto us and are trying to shut us down. They use scare tactics and want people to believe every animal is mistreated and living in inhumane conditions. That’s not the industry. It’s a highly regulated one.” Halprin said she and Bernstein are concerned it will cause another disruption for their 17-year-old Vancouver store, which has been targeted by activists six times since 2009. Halprin said the negative attention was likely responsible for the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver choosing not renew the store’s lease in 2010. “We believe the activists got to the management of the hotel and they caved in to pressure,” she said. Snowflake has been vandalized three times since moving to its new location, she said.

Speiser Furs owner James Laurenson said Monday’s vandalism was not as bad as what happened last June, when the ALF claimed responsibility for gluing his locks shut and throwing canisters of bleach 25 feet into the showroom, destroying 85 fur coats.This time, he said, the damage was confined to the windows, door jambs and doorsteps which had red paint thrown on them.

The owner of Pappas Furs, Constantine Pappas, declined to comment.

Animal Liberation Front press officer Gerry Vlasak, who is based in Los Angeles, said he is aware of the four incidents in Vancouver. The local ALF group is one of the “more active cells which are operating all over the world,” he said.

“No one knows who the members are. It would be problematic with police wanting information from us,” said Vlasak. “We [the press officers] understand the ideology so serve as their spokesmen to the mainstream media. … Why this particular action at this particular time? I’m not able to say. But these actions happen generally as economic sabotage against people who are willing to take the skins of animals to make their living.”

North Vancouver RCMP Cpl. Richard De Jong said the RCMP is aware of the mischief to a house and vehicles in the 4000-block of Delbrook Avenue — the same block as Capilano Furs — and are working closely with the Vancouver Police on similar files. Anyone with information on this is encouraged to call the North Vancouver RCMP at 604-985-1311 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477, he said.