When you are out picking up some toys for the tikes at the Galleria this Friday, you might see something besides chubby Santas and frustrated holiday shoppers. You might catch anti-fur protesters.
A group of animal rights activists is planning a protest in front of the Galleria Neiman Marcus store at 2 p.m. aimed at "educating" the public on the inhumane treatment of animals killed to make fur coats and the like for stores like Neiman Marcus.
The protest has become a Thanksgiving tradition for members of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, owing more to the popularity of the shopping "holiday" than the sale of fur on Black Friday. PETA is known for its controversial marketing campaigns promoting vegetarianism, animal welfare and, of course, an end to the sale of fur.
Neiman Marcus doesn't count fur among its biggest sellers on Black Friday, and the upscale clothing store doesn't do ad-heavy sales on Black Friday, but a spokesperson for the retailer acknowledged the high-profile nature of Black Friday makes it a natural choice for people wanting attention.
Deana Bowman, a 46-year-old legal assistant, will be among the protesters. The self-proclaimed "girl from Texas" who still eats meat, calling it a "personal struggle," is a first-timer this year. She began her animal rights activism because of her love for animals. "It started with the circus," she says.
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After reading about the treatment of animals used for fur, she got involved. "Most fur comes from China, where millions of animals, including dogs and cats, are skinned alive," she says. "Once you see what goes on behind the scenes, it will change your mind forever."
For its part, Neiman Marcus is for whatever is in fashion. "We are a fashion business, first and foremost," says spokesperson Ginger Reeder. "We sell things that reflect the fashion trends."
Unlike some of PETA's more outlandish stunts (costumed injured elephants at elementary schools come to mind), both Neiman Marcus and Bowman expect a peaceful and orderly demonstration.
"It's more about educating the public," says Bowman. "I'm not one of those crazy people that throws paint."