TAKING TO THE STREETS FOR FELIX
NATIONAL DEMO REPORT – SATURDAY 1ST SEPTEMBER, 2007
Hundreds of SPEAK campaign supporters took to the streets of Oxford on Saturday 1st September to demand the release of Felix from his imprisonment in an Oxford University laboratory.
Demonstrators met in Oxpens Park before the march, with some of the earliest arrivals having travelled all the way from Holland and Italy with the express purpose of demanding justice for Felix. As more and more people arrived they all expressed their disgust at the appalling suffering that Felix is going through at the hands of the morally and scientifically bankrupt vivisectors of Oxford University, and how they were determined to ensure his freedom. Before the march set off everyone congregated before two large banners depicting Felix behind the bars of his tiny cage to hear speeches from people who feel passionately about the cause. First, Mel from SPEAK gave a rousing introduction to the day, putting everyone in the mood to get our message heard, and then Dr. Andre Menache and Amanda from SPEAK gave eloquent, heart-felt speeches respectively on the scientific and moral reasons why the research being carried out on Felix is completely indefensible.
After hearing these speeches, with feelings running high, everyone took up banners, placards, leaflets and megaphones, determined to make Oxford University and all the visitors to Oxford realise that Felix’s incarceration will not be tolerated. At the front of the march a large picture showing Felix’s beautiful, thoughtful eyes looking out from the bars of his cage was carried. It is difficult to imagine how anyone looking into those beseeching eyes could fail to be moved to take action to free him from his plight. With every banner and placard behind it showing Felix, and with chants of ‘Free Felix Now’ ringing out, it would have been impossible for anyone in the vicinity to avoid the knowledge of why the protestors were there.
The streets were lined with people looking on and taking leaflets as the march processed into the city centre, before heading towards South Parks Road where, if Oxford University get their way, many thousands more animals will suffer the same fate as Felix. Stopping half way down South Parks Road, in sight of the part built animal abuse lab, the procession stopped to hear more speeches. Mel gave a passionate speech in which he articulated the feelings of many of those who have been with the campaign from the start, rightly lambasting everyone involved with the new lab and with the atrocities being perpetrated against Felix.
Next to speak was Erica, who has supported the campaign since the beginning, then gave a very moving speech about Felix and the suffering he is going through, followed by Lynn Sawyer who spoke brilliantly about our right to lawful protest and how the police are misusing their powers but are being caught out and defeated time after time . These excellent speeches were all rightly received with thunderous applause and cheers, and with emotions running high the march set off again, turning once more towards the centre of the city. As it turned on to Broad Street it fell silent, save for the beat of one drum, allowing those on the march to reflect on the message of the day, and the hundreds of shoppers and tourists standing by, and the police and University 'professional' witnesses who were dotted about, to reflect on the evil that is being carried out behind the 'dreaming spires' of Oxford. The demo erupted into voice again as it reached the end of Broad Street and for the final stretch back to the park, where there was a final speech from Emma from SPEAK, telling about the feelings of the people who had been supporting the campaign from day one and assuring all those listening that, however difficult things get, they would never give in and never give up the fight for Felix and all the other animals being held without their consent by Oxford University, an institution mired in corruption, lies and barbarism.
The determination to free Felix from the severe and substantial suffering he is enduring was palpable as everyone set off for home and it was clear that everyone was committed to doing whatever it takes to secure Felix's freedom. Felix is an individual who deserves justice, rights and freedom as do all the other animals imprisoned in Oxford University labs who he has come to symbolize.
Felix's story is sad, but please do not sit and weep for him as tears will do nothing. Please stand up and fight for Felix. His life depends on us. We are all he has.
FREE FELIX NOW!
SPEAK benefit gig
After the more sombre day time events of the Fighting for Felix national demo, the benefit gig was a time for people to raise money whilst singing, dancing, eating, drinking and relaxing.
The music was excellent. She Makes Music hushed the room with her haunting songs that sent a shiver down the spine. The GeriPatricks were foot tapping good and soon got everyone throwing themselves around the dance floor.
The new SPEAK DVD was shown to a room hushed in silence as the reality of Felix’s suffering sunk in to those watching, but there were cheers and a round of applause when the DVD ended in defiance and a promise to keep on fighting.
Once again Oxford Animal Protection did a marvellous job in organising this event which was enjoyed by all, but without forgetting the reason why we were there – to raise money in the Fight to save Felix and the fight to stop the Oxford animal Lab.
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