New York Times - United States
The protesters are affiliated with Win Animal Rights, or WAR, a local group led by a former management consultant and full-time activist named Camille ...
Protesting Fur, Ruffling Feathers
Outside the Beresford, home of the furrier Dennis Basso, the chants go on.
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By CAROLINE H. DWORIN
Published: January 23, 2009
ON a recent Saturday, a day so cold the streets lay deserted, the peal of a woman’s voice shook the frigid air opposite Central Park. "Hey, Basso, what do you say? How did you kill your fur today?" yelled Stephanie Williams, 29, recently laid off from a job as an account manager at an electronics company.
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Around her, a troop of fellow protesters stood lined up outside the grand apartment house known as the Beresford, on Central Park West and 81st Street. They responded to her chant with a list of ways to kill an animal.
The protesters are affiliated with Win Animal Rights, or WAR, a local group led by a former management consultant and full-time activist named Camille Hankins. They have been protesting against Dennis Basso, a designer furrier, both outside his store on Madison Avenue and 66th Street and outside the Beresford, where he lives.
Ms. Hankins’s group has picketed Mr. Basso sporadically for the last three years or so, but in late October, with plans to continue through February — fur season — she kicked the protests into high gear, appearing every weekend at either his shop or his home.
"For those of us who campaign against vivisection and animal testing, that has became a very popular way of campaigning," Ms. Hankins said. "It’s bringing it to their home, a very effective tactic."
The animal rights group also protests at the Manhattan homes of others it disagrees with, such as executives for animal-testing enterprises and pharmaceutical companies that use such research, but the protest at the Beresford is one of the most visible stops.
At this location, opposite both the park and the American Museum of Natural History, their presence often rattles the building’s tenants. The protesters, who numbered about 15 that day, held posters showing both a grinning Mr. Basso and the stripped, bloodied bodies of a fox, an animal often used in the fur trade. A slim woman with red hair walked a little redheaded boy out of the building. As they passed the posters, he covered his eyes with his hands.
"It’s not only destructive, but it’s not going to change anything," said Carol E. Levy, a real estate broker and Beresford resident for 16 years. "What gives them the right to invade our privacy? I do not like their techniques, and their lack of sensitivity to my home. If you want to make a change, you go to the source, you go to the government." She said she finds their methods difficult to explain to her two young daughters.
Mr. Basso and Andrew Leight, the property manager of the Beresford, did not return multiple telephone calls seeking comment.
Often the police show up, as they did that Saturday, responding to complaints. However, the police interaction with Ms. Hankins was cordial, and soon the protesters packed up their posters and dispersed.