DOWNTOWN — An animal rights organization camped in front of a local sporting goods store Thursday to protest the use of animal products in clothing and camping equipment.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) set up a “sleep in” outside REI on the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Fourth Street to tell shoppers and passersby to not buy products that include down, which is the soft inner layer of bird feathers.
Members from the organization were dressed up in pajamas and sat up in sleeping bags. They carried signs that said “Down Hurts” and “Don’t Cuddle with Cruelty; Ditch Down.” The pajama-wearing protesters were accompanied by a half-plucked goose mascot.
“PETA has recently been focusing on the down industry,” said PETA campaigns manager Katie Arth.
Arth also commented that some people already have decided to never wear fur or leather, but down is a different story.
“They don’t know about the cruelty that goes on to fill jackets, comforters, and coats,” she said.
Down is used in sleeping bags, jackets, pillows, and comforters among other things. PETA urges shoppers to buy alternative down products like Primaloft or Thinsulate instead.
REI defends its usage of down material in products.
“REI is committed to providing our members down products from animals treated in an ethical, humane manner,” according to a statement from an REI spokesperson.
The spokesperson explained that the company is concerned about the treatment of birds and that its policy prohibits suppliers from partaking in unethical practices.
The company states that it works to offer customers a broad range of products and that there are numerous choices for customers who would like an alternative to down.
The protesters got the attention of people walking by, handing them flyers that stated “Live Plucking for Down” and showed pictures of workers plucking feathers off birds and holding them forcibly.
“I have no idea that’s how they obtain down,” said Gerund Montgomery who works for Leaps4Love, a non-profit organization that helps raise money for St. Jude Hospital.
“It’s pretty sad, he’s sitting on his neck,” added Montgomery as he looked at a flyer that featured a picture of a down industry worker in action.
Mike Betette, a comedian who works at M.i.’s Westside Comedy Theater, praised PETA while taking a photo of the protest.
“Good for them. If you feel strongly about something you should be able to come out and tell other people about it,” said Betette. “I’m not vegan, but I appreciate everything they are saying and doing.”
PETA will host a Cruelty Free Friday event on Nov. 29, which will take place at shopping malls in San Diego and Beverly Hills.
— Brian Adigwu