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Fur Free WeHo kick-off draws hundreds
January 31, 2001, posted by WeHo News staff, West Hollywood, California
Saturday's kick-off of the Fur Free WeHo campaign manifested the suspenseful excitement of a campaign rally, the righteous agitation of an animal rights protest and a dash of fashion show thrown in for good measure - it is, after all, West Hollywood.
At least 200 people milled about behind a curtain of traffic-facing campaign/protest signs held aloft by volunteers to voice their support for proposed legislation that would outlaw the sale of fur in the city of West Hollywood, a campaign promise made by John D'Amico, a candidate for city council.
Among those milling sat Coda, a wolf-dog who wore signage declaring her opposition to fur. Her guardian Fawn, a recording artist with a Billboard 100 Dance hit, told WeHo News that it would take 12 Codas to make a coat.
Shannon Keith, an animal-rights attorney and filmmaker who made a documentary exposing the fur industry's practices, told the crowd she "knew we wanted to make West Hollywood fur free, but we never had the opportunity," saying that the moment had arrived with the D'Amico campaign's sponsorship of the idea.
"Let West Hollywood know that we don't support the cruelty of animals," she said.
"We don't support the skinning alive, the gassing, the beatings, the electrocutions," said Ms. Keith, "Nobody wants it."
Before the speechifying, WeHo-resident and designer Julia Gerard (on Melrose next to Urth Café) showed off her faux-fur creations, which she said had the "look and feel of real fur without the cruelty."
The designer responsible for dressing the likes of Prince and Cher said the "fashion industry could easily make faux-fur out of commonly available materials; why they don't is because no one tells them to stop."
West Hollywood declared itself an Animal Cruelty Free Zone in 1989, and since then passed pioneering animal legislation that includes banning the use of the word "pet" from the lexicon and replacing it with "companion animal" ("owners" became guardians), the first anti-declaw bill and ban on the sale of mill-bred animals - all firsts for the nation.
Now, John D'Amico is carrying the fur free message forward in his campaign for West Hollywood City Council, agreeing to promote and focus on this legislation while in office.
Introducing the challenger to the crowd rose John Duran, an animal rights champion responsible for two of the laws aforementioned to declare "We'll get to the point where the only fur we'll see in West Hollywood is on the backs of leather daddies as they drive their Harleys through town."
He spoke of how the people Mr. D'Amico is running against first scoffed at him and his ideas about animal rights - before the laws gained widespread favor and fame.
"When I proposed the ban on de-clawing cats, my colleagues on the council laughed at me and scoffed, saying it was a silly idea," he said.
"Now they're campaigning on that very idea. Ironic as that is," Mayor Pro Tem John Duran said, "I need another voice on the city council; I need an ally on the city council."
Mayor Pro Tem Duran, who faces his colleagues' consternation over his backing a credible challenger to incumbents who have held their seats for decades, said when Mr. D'Amico initially proposed the idea, he responded with a "That's hot!"
But "I need [John D'Amico]'s voice on the council, though, so people aren't going to laugh and scoff," he cried.
Mr. D'Amico declared that his campaign is about "the way things are now, about adults who think about the world around them."
Saying that he trusted the populace to decide for itself how to live made West Hollywood the Creative City, he lauded the thoughtful citizen's involvement in civic affairs.
"It's always the way I think about West Hollywood and events like this," he said, "that when people think about the world they're in, they realize that a Fur Free West Hollywood is the world we want to live in."
Former West Hollywood Planning Commissioner D'Amico declared, "We can open this window to a creative new way to think about fashion in West Hollywood, to think about who we are as people in the world, to step through and fly out and make this change and bring West Hollywood into 2011."
Co-organizer of the event Ed Buck told WeHo News the campaign would bring energy to Mr. D'Amico's.
"It'll put people on the streets to get out the message that D'Amico is the future," he said.
Later that day, at a candidates' forum that did not include Mr. D'Amico, Mr. Buck pinned down Mito Aviles', Scott Schmidt's and Steve Martin's positions on the issue.
The trio agreed that their experience showed them other issues took precedence in voters' minds, with Mr. Aviles opposing it with Messrs. Schmidt and Martin not ruling out eventually supporting it on its humanitarian merits.
The Fur Information Council of America, a West Hollywood-based nationwide organization dedicated to promoting fur products, fur retailers and building awareness and comfort for the fur industry's client base, did not reply to phone calls or E mails.