PE: This is a unique format for a tour. Can you tell us what the tour looks like? How did you come up with the idea for this?
I was originally inspired to do the Open the Cages tour when I first read about the Primate Freedom Tours which took place in the 90′s. Basically there was an acquisition of two large school busses, packed to the brim with people, and set out on a several month long tour across the United States doing demonstrations and media events at different universities and animal research facilities. This tour, as well as others, have been good reference points to help highlight what worked, and what we could do to improve on their original idea for our events. Former ELF press officer Craig Rosebraugh, one of the organizers of the Primate Freedom Tour, writes about it briefly in his book Burning Rage of a Dying Planet, which I highly recommend.
There’s been talk about doing a tour like this amongst a few of my friends and I for some time now, and I’m glad things have finally manifested out of those casual conversations that we’d had. It all became a reality when I befriended some of the folks who are making the film Maximum Tolerated Dose, which I didn’t know they were a part of when I first began my relationship with them. I talked briefly once about doing a tour that combined all sorts of events such as the ones as we have planned, and mentioned that I’d heard of MTD and was interested in seeking out the filmmakers to ask if I’d be able to tour with their film. After they informed me they were the ones making it we decided to do a tour together once the film was completed. I contacted Michael Budkie, director of SAEN (Stop Animal Exploitation Now) to see if they would be interested in sponsoring us for the tour as well. Michael, Karen and I have worked together for other events in the past, and SAEN was the first and only group I could think of that would be suitable to work with for this project. They’ve done amazing investigative work over the years and are always an amazing resource for information on laboratories across the US.
Basically the idea was to do a tour focusing on Animal Liberation, and organize a variety of events to attract people from all walks of life. We’ll be traveling up the West Coast of the United States and Canada, visiting every major city along the way and organizing events over a period of two to three days. For me personally, I was radicalized by the music I listened to growing up; but I know that a lot of people connect with struggles in many different ways. For that reason we’ve combined art, music, film, workshops and demonstrations to create a more unified and cohesive tour that is not only an effective series of events and demonstrations, but also something that gives us a platform to reach out to other social justice movements. The Animal Lib movement is young by contrast to other liberation struggles, and for that reason I find it incredibly important and valuable for us to use this opportunity to collaborate with other groups and reach out to the local communities we’ll be visiting. Fraudulent science like animal testing is something that hurts all of us, and it’s our goal for this tour to bring people together to build resistance and continue to combat these companies and universities long after the tour is over.