an attempt to see justice for their Fur Free Friday action against Jacques Ferber
Furs, Philadlephia activists turned the tables on furrier Kenneth Ferber by forcing
him to answer for his cruel dealings in the fur trade.
Heidi Dunst, Kim
Chicchi and Joe Bateman arrived at the courthouse at 8am, and Ferber took a seat
directly behind the activists so that he could make sarcastic remarks throughout
the proceedings. The courtroom was packed and as we were charged with summary
offences, ours was to be one of the last cases heard. This annoyed Ferber so much
that if they could "hurry this thing up. I have to get back to work."
She asked the judge to review our case and when he did, he rolled his eyes and
asked Ferber, "Is this something we could clear up with a handshake and an
apology?" Ferber said no and the judge made him wait almos four more hours.
Victory number 1!
The case was finally heard at 12:15 pm and the prosecutor
called Ferber to the stand and asked him to describe what happened on Fur Free
Friday. He said that the activists entered the foyer of his fur store, locked
their necks together with bike locks and began to scream "like little animals!"
The way Ferber scowled that phrase made us see the absolute hatred he has for
the dead animals that hang in the window of his store.
Then it was the
activists turn to question Ferber. The defendants were representing themselves
and decided to use the necessity defense, wherein their actions were justified
in order to prevent a greater evil from happening. Kim Chicchi was elected to
do the questioning. The exchange went like this:
Chicchi: "Mr. Ferber,
can you tell the court what are the five most common ways an animals is murdered
to produce a fur coat?"
Ferber: "I only know of one. Humane lethal
Chicchi told the judge that we had photos to prove otherwise,
but he wouldn't let the defense use them.
Chicchi: "Mr. Ferber, have
you ever heard of mink having their necks broken or being genitally electrocuted
or of foxes and other animals having their limbs caught in steel traps?"
Ferber: "No. Those are stories that you animal rights people make
Chicchi: "Mr. Ferber, how many mink have to be murdered
in order to produce one full length fur coat?"
Ferber: "I don't
Chicchi: "Isn't it true, Mr. Ferber, that it takes between
40 and 65 mink to make one coat?"
Ferber: "I guess so."
Chicchi: "So, Mr. Ferber, now can you tell the court how many mink
must be murdered to make one fur coat?"
Ferber: "...between 40
Chicchi: "Mr. Ferber, do you feel that the making and
selling of fur coats is a morally bankrupt practice?"
not in any way."
Chicchi: "No further questions."
judge told the defense that they had one last chance to defend themselves. Dunst
reiterated the necessity defense, Bateman read to the court an entire piece of
literature detailing the fur industries murderous ways and Chicchi, once again,
tried to show the court photos of mutilated animals as she stated that she shares
The defendants were found guilty and Judge Robbins stated that
he sympathized with the cause, but that the activists had to be punished for breaking
the law. Though a decent judge, this did anger the defense who had sat and watched
all morning, as real criminals got off scott free. The prosecutor asked for community
service, but the judge decided to give a fine, collectively, of almost $300. The
punishment for not paying was 3 days in prison. The activists offered to be taken
to jail immediately as they did not want to reward a system that kills animals
and punishes their liberators.The judge refused to send anyone to jail and gave
them until May 27th to pay. At this point it will be taken up in court once again.
Apparently the courts didn't want the activists in jail, but rather wanted
their money. Furthermore, this case proves that civil disobedience and the subsequent
right to defend yourself in a court of law, is a win/win situation for activists.
At one point, Ferber had asked the judge to order restraining orders against
the group to stop the weekly CAFT protests. Judge Robbins refused to do that,
stating that this would be a violation of the activists first amendment rights.
Victory # 2!
This case is another example of how the no bail/do jail position
and the no compromise approach are the best court tactics available.