A giant bloodied goose was spotted outside of the Canada Goose store on Wooster Street shortly after noon on Wednesday. This was, of course, just a costume. The disgusting eight-foot-tall creature, with bulging eyes and exposed flesh, stood with a group of protesters from PETA, who gathered in the wake of undercover footage released by the animal rights organization last week. The footage was allegedly taken from a slaughterhouse that supplies Canada Goose’s down, the fine layer of feathers the clothing company uses in their luxury garments.
“Canada Goose misleads the public by saying that they use humane down. In reality, there’s no such thing, and the video from one of their suppliers shows this,” said Ashley Byrne, associate director of campaigns for PETA. Then she described the video, in one of the most graphic quotes I’ve ever heard.
“We found multiple geese being grabbed and carried by their necks, crammed into tiny wire pens, forced to endure five hour journeys crammed inside tiny little cages. They were terrified and shrieking, in obvious distress. Then when they got to the slaughterhouse they were hung upside down by their feet and had their throats slashed.”
Alex Thomson, director of communications for Canada Goose, said that PETA continues to be misinformed about his employer’s animal welfare practices, and the animals in the video are not a part of their supply chain. “This is another irresponsible tactic to spread their false narrative,” said Thomson. “We only use down that comes as a by-product of the food industry.”
Now that you’ve heard both sides, here’s the video in question.
Camille Mouquinho, a resident of Greenwich Village, arrived early for the demonstration. She didn’t need to see the video to know that animals deserve to be treated with respect. “There’s so many alternatives for fashionable and warm clothing without making animals suffer,” said Mouquinho. “Canada Goose is such a horrendous company, and if I can come and speak for the animals that can’t speak for themselves, it’s my great pleasure.”
It was 44 degrees and cloudy, not ideal weather for protesting (or reporting). I was glad I didn’t wear my Canada Goose jacket, since it would have made it hard to get an interview. The ratio of protestors to security was about one-to-one, with 10 cops standing out front of the store, along with four imperious-looking henchmen from Global Security Systems, hired privately by Canada Goose.
The demonstrators held signs, handed out pamphlets, and performed some pseudo-demonic call and response (“There’s no excuse…for animal abuse!”). A police officer repeatedly told the demonstrators that they couldn’t impede someone walking on the sidewalk. There was mention of shoving and constitutional rights and a whole bunch of other nasty business.
Larry Trepel, an anti-fur protestor since 1985, yelled at prospective customers as they went into the store. “Take a look at what you’re buying when you go in there,” said Trepel, who has used the tactic in the past. “I’ve had people come out of the store and say, ‘After I saw what this is about, I realize I don’t want one of these coats.’”
He said the way the coats are manufactured is incredibly cruel, and from the sidewalk, he was willing to go right up against the store’s large glass windows to deter customers shopping inside. At one point, a security guard tried to stop him.
“Sir, don’t touch the window,” said the guard.
Trepel didn’t flinch.
“Don’t tell me you didn’t touch the window. I know you touched the window,” he repeated.
“They don’t bother me,” said Trepel. “The police are generally pretty good about the way they treat us here. Security guards, I’ve never seen so many security guards here.”