Animal rights activists assembled under the shadow of the Flatiron building on Sunday to mourn the loss of animals to the food, fashion, and horse carriage industry during the 13th annual National Animal Rights Day.
The ceremony on 23rd Street and Broadway, held in unison with similar events in 200 cities across the world, saw a large group come together in observance of National Animal Rights Day. Organizers planted their feet in the bustling district and held roses beside images of animals in distress.
Standing before a faux coffin intended to represent what they cite as an unnecessary loss of life, organizers said they feel that people can easily live in the 21st century without harming other creatures.
“There’s no reason to use animals with what we have nowadays,” said Rina Deych, assistant organizer of National Animal Rights Day. “There is clothing that is warm available. [There is] no need to eat meat and dairy. It is completely unnecessary and disgusting.”
Those in attendance said the commemoration was primarily intended to give a voice to animals and spread awareness of the potential brutality that can be found within the dairy and meat industry. This was driven home through a series of eulogies given on behalf of lost animals, including one read by NYCLASS Executive Director Edita Birnkrant that honored the life of collapsed carriage horse Ryder, while also calling for the banning of the carriage industry.
“We have a makeshift coffin and a tombstone, and this is to bring awareness to people that these animals are individuals just like humans,” Nora Marino, a fellow co-organizer said. “They’re not viewing these animals as individuals; they’re viewing them as objects to be used for our needs. And that’s not accurate. Animals are individuals, they have emotions, feelings, they love their families.”
Many of those in the crowd became emotional, wiping away tears while several passersby stopped in their tracks and watched the mourners place flowers over the coffin. The ceremony was brought to a close with a funeral procession that marched through the streets and culminated under the arch of Washington Square Park.