According to a statement posted on the Michigan IMC, a group of animal liberation activists took direct action against the Barnum & Bailey Circus at Van Andel Arena on Saturday, Oct 2. Stating that “the tired old tactics of humanitarian pacifism has lost its bite”, the group chose property destruction as their tactic, claiming to have “backed up toilets with sponge, superglued locks, etched circus truck windows, and smashed windows in Van Andel, and painted circus traincars.” The actions did get mentioned in the local mainstream press, with the Grand Rapids Press running an article on Monday. No information is known as to the identity of the activists, although the GRPD reportedly suspects “college kids leaving downtown bars.”
Property destruction has a long history as a tactic in the animal liberation movement. Groups such as the Animal Liberation Front have caused millions of dollars in damage over the past thirty years, with hundreds of actions this year. Some involved in the animal liberation movement have argued that property destruction can achieve concrete results while others argue that it is ineffective and undermines the work of those fighting for animal liberation through legal means. Media Mouse is unaware of a situation in which property destruction has materially improved the condition of animals, yet understands the urge to act in a manner that goes behind sign-holding and leafleting. However, whenever activists chose to employ such tactics they must be ready for both increased state repression and a public backlash against such tactics. Moreover, activists must consider how their actions will impact the larger movement–will smashing windows at the Vanandel Arena substantially alter the treatment of animals or will it serve only to bring police attention on organizers of legal animal rights demonstrations? Regardless of the efficacy of this particular action, the treatment of circus animals is deplorable and Media Mouse urges readers to learn more about the treatment of circus animals.