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My new life as a convicted felon
This could be my last blog post from outside for a while. Let's make it count.
The verdict came in a few moments ago: guilty on both felony counts. It wasn’t surprising to me, but it never feels good to be called out as a criminal. But the most important thing, going back even to the days when DxE was founded in early 2013, was for us to harness repression to create change.
We have seen time and time again that, when movements prove resilient, efforts to repress them can be used to jumpstart their power. The reason, quite simply, is that there is power in sacrifice. When we nonviolently bear the pain that the state or industry impose on us, and continue pushing forward with our cause, it engenders tremendous sympathy in the public.
To be sure, there will be some who hate us. There will be some who condemn us as extremists or radicals. But there are others who will see our sacrifice and ask, “What is it that would move someone so much that they’d risk their own freedom to fight for change?” And many of those people will join the movement for change.
I mentioned three things that are crucial to this process, that I’ll leave with all of you.
First, we have to remember our experience from this trial. Every single person who participated in this trial learned something crucial about how we can fight for change. The collective knowledge of those who joined us is crucial to building power for change. It is what the sociologist Marshall Ganz called “strategic capacity” - the ability of a movement to adapt to challenges and find creative solutions. From how to plan an open rescue to how to pick a jury, we developed immense strategic capacity in this trial. The people who joined it, even remotely, must retain that knowledge for us to deploy when we face similar challenges in the future.
Second, we have to share our experiences in this trial with the world. Dozens experienced the successful efforts to gag us at trial, the selective presentation of the evidence that resulted, and the clear bias shown by the court in this trial. But the bias against me was small compared to the bias against the animals. The judge seemed to acknowledge, at points, that there is a difference between a chair and a dog. He stated that, no matter what we want the law to be, the law is the way it is. We have to use this case to show this deep prejudice against our animal friends. One obvious example: why is it that we care more about the property interests of a business than the pain and desperation of a living creature who happens to be non-human?
The Intercept and The Guardian have already published articles on this trial. We should be able to get much more powerful stories out there into the world. But only if people share.
Third, we have to find the silver lining, even in what might seem initially like a defeat. It’s easy to feel broken after what seems like a major loss. But this was not actually a loss. It was a thermometer of where we are. The public is not quite where we need them to be, to understand why animal rescue matters so deeply. And as long as we learn from this experience, and rally more people behind the banner of change, this “defeat” will someday seem like a major victory. I’ve had so many personal experiences like this. These defeats have taught me. They’ve strengthened me. And above all, they’ve changed me for the better.
But it only works if I embrace change. Living in a cage, which may be in my immediate future, will do all of those things. And I plan to embrace it, and I hope many others will, too. I don’t mean that all of you should seek felony convictions, as well. I mean that there are always new opportunities, for every one that’s foreclosed, and sometimes going down one path, that seems dark and scary, actually opens up new paths that are filled with brightness and joy.
I believe that is what will happen here. And a big part of the reason is that I believe in you. So many people have supported us. So many people have cried our tears, as we’ve watched our animal friends suffer. And so many will fight twice as hard, knowing that I am in jail or prison. And because of all of you who continue the fight, we will make change.