Staging a Successful Protest

by Louise Kahle
Go Vegetarian illustration by Nigel Burroughs
Illustration by Nigel Burroughs

One hot summer day, as I drove up a busy highway in Florida, I noticed an elderly man at the stoplight. He was seated in a cheap aluminum lawn chair with a table, lemonade, and a sign that simply said, "Don't buy a car here. They sold me a lemon." One brave soul in the blazing sun, alone but bursting with conviction. I will never forget that man. More importantly, I will never buy a car from that dealer.

An animal rights activist takes action. Advocates cannot just say they care about animals. They must do something to right a wrong. They must protest strongly in order to prevent animal abuse in the future. A successful protest has three components:

The Event Itself
The Follow-Up

  1. Before any protest, ask, "What do we want to accomplish?" Every protester should know the facts and be prepared to present data accurately to the media. Be an educated activist and give our movement meaning. Plan a creative strategy. The media enjoy confrontation and pizazz! They like sharp-witted, substantive sight-and-sound-bites. Would YOU want to film a bunch of listless people holding boring signs? Get you point across with knowledge, humor, seriousness, and panache. Contact all media prior to the event. Re-confirm your media contacts. Educate them before the protest.

    We have only ourselves to blame if the media do not understand WHY we are protesting. Delegate specific tasks to committed activists. Caring about animals means doing something effective about their pain.
  2. At the protest, have a camera and a video camcorder. Be on time! Never arrive after the press. Dress creatively. Use colorful bright outfits and/or theme outfits on solid black. Chant. Use that blowhorn. Bring leaflets and pass them out. Don't be afraid to walk up to people and build a rapport with them. Educate. Create a disturbance and synchronize it with the media. NEVER chastise a fellow protester at any event. Discuss differences after the protest.

    Have a leader talk to the media. Pick someone who speaks well and makes a great appearance on TV. Get passersby involved in the protest. Elicit their response. Let them know why you are so upset. Get them on YOUR side. Begin your protest. Stay organized. End with a summation. Just like any business project. Keep everyone motivated and on target.
  3. After the protest, follow up with letters and phone calls to the protest target. Ask for a written promise to end the abusive practice forever. Accept nothing less. The animals cannot afford compromise. Activists must instill an element of fear in order to have the opposition respect you. Who cares if they like ya? Be a force to be reckoned with. Thank your troops. A victory feels good, so celebrate. Write down ways to improve the next protest and share comments.

    Remember: animal activism is a business. You must sell the public and media on truth which is sometimes unbearable to face. Slick advertising has rewarded consumers by allowing them to avoid pain as commercial ventures prosper at the expense of animals. Be brave in your fight and be strong for the animals always and in all ways.

Louise Kahle is the owner of Louise's People Model & Talent Agency in St. Petersburg, Florida. She is an active member of The Animal Rights Foundation of Florida and United Poultry Concerns.