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Vigil for Squirrel Massacre

Posted by tinako on February 23, 2014

Some friends and I held a silent vigil yesterday during the Holley, NY Fire Department’s “Squirrel Slam.”  Friends of Animals from NYC came to Holley again for an all-out protest, but we attended last year and some of us felt it didn’t reflect our values.  We’re on the same side when it comes to animals, but not so much when it comes to anger.  When it comes to anger, I think FoA and the hunters are on the same side.

I’m really proud that I brought this issue up in our local group and got the conversation started.  And I’m incredibly proud of our group that others agreed and we made it happen.  Sixteen of us lined a very busy corner outside Holley for an hour in gale force winds, hanging onto our yellow signs in silence.  I’d have to estimate that the number of cars we saw yesterday was 30 times what we saw the year before in the center of Holley, where most passers-by probably already knew what was going on.  Most of our signs spoke of our sorrow for the squirrels instead of protest to the hunters (pictures of squirrels, candles, hearts, paw-prints, RIP).  All of us maintained silence.

Some of us wonder whether standing holding signs is effective; I doubt it changed the minds of anyone with an already-formed opinion, and what we really need is a law, but a whole lot of people definitely know what was going on that day in the neighboring town, and that somebody cares.  I’m proud that we did that without adding our anger to the world.  I went home knowing that while we hadn’t impacted the number of squirrels killed that day, we had stood up to say small creatures matter.

There was a fair amount of beeping, whether friendly or not we couldn’t tell, and weren’t really interested – we were there to express compassion, not take a public opinion poll.  Despite the presence of an eleven-year-old girl among us, several passing gentlemen expressed their thoughts about our silent vigil via obscene gestures and shouted expletives.  But mostly no issues.

The FoA protest was later – we didn’t want to compete with it, our group promoted it, and several of our vigilers planned to attend it.  Don’t know how it went.

UPDATE – I heard from attendees that it was about 10 people including a FoA leader, apparently silent on our side, but very, very noisy counterprotesters outnumbering the protesters.  If FoA really put away the bullhorn, I wonder what prompted that – they had been very insistent with us that anger and shouting was the way to go, even frustrated that we felt otherwise.  One attendee said the other side wasn’t really nasty, just having a great time yelling what I’m sure were witty bon mots such as “tastes like chicken.”  I’m not Christian, but I can’t help thinking of the people who mocked Jesus as he suffered with the cross.  I didn’t feel that way when our side was shouting, too.  There is an echoing, enduring power in quiet suffering laid bare.

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