Tim Barford – Reflections on the Close Down the Slaughterhouses demo

17th June 2016

Saturday June 11th 2016 saw the 4th annual Close Down All Slaughterhouse demo in London – one of many similar events being held around the globe

I was invited to speak at the event, and went up to Leicester Square to speak for around 20 minutes.

You can hear the speech here:

In the speech (as with all speakers at the event), I presented the vegan option as a philosophy, lifestyle and dietary choice.

There were about 50 protestors there, many of them dedicated activists some of whom have been attending demos for a long time, and in particular thanks are due to those activists that braved the rain and turned up in support – and of course much thanks to Robert who helped organise the event.

On the positive side, there were a lot of vegan flyers handed out, some excellent speeches and some every interested members of the public, Earthlings was shown to quite a few people on laptops, placards were eye catching and the whole demo did attract attention from passers – by. The event was peaceful, informative and volunteer led.

But there are also some problematical areas to the demo – and in particular the  speciesist nature of it, and the use of graphic images, and the presence of near naked fake blood splattered protestors.

The fact that the event focuses on slaughterhouses can also send out a message that other forms of exploitation are ok. The vegan content of the talks and flyers helped counter that, but it is an issue for the organisers to consider.

The use of graphic images is considered by some to be problematical – for other vegan activists its considered to be very effective. This demo is clearly going to include the use of graphic images so that one remains open to debate.

The 3rd are is particularly problematical though, and one I personally feel uncomfortable about. The presence of blood splattered near naked bodies, mainly female, does send out some very mixed messages – especially with a white male in a dominant pose and approach, with a female blood splattered body at his feet. I didn’t even know I was being filmed at the time, and hadn’t noticed the bodies to be fair, focusing on the speech and one or two old friends. My bad. I respect the fact that the people chose to be there, and have no wish to say what’s what with other protestors – but it’s not something I would be comfortable doing again. I should have spoken up at the time.

A word with the organisers before next year’s event may assist in these areas.

Big big thanks to all who took part – but some food for thought for all of us involved.