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Protesters Target Fur Retailers

Activists march on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills as part of an annual event to try to stop the sale of coats and other merchandise.

November 29, 2003|Joy Buchanan and Arlene Martinez | Times Staff Writers

Demonstrators holding signs with graphic images marched along Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills on Friday, part of an annual event aimed at ending the sale of fur.

The group of about 50 targeted retailers included Neiman Marcus, Hugo Boss, Prada, Saks Fifth Avenue and Yves Saint Laurent.

"We aren't living in the time of Daniel Boone anymore," said teacher Valerie Belt, participating in her first protest. "We don't need fur coats anymore. We've got synthetic material that's so much warmer."

"Fur-Free Friday," held annually the day after Thanksgiving, was started in 1986 by animal rights groups. Similar protests were held Friday in cities including St. Louis, Las Vegas, New York City and San Francisco. The groups charge that animals are brutally treated and killed solely for their fur.

Caran Sealey, public relations manager for Neiman Marcus, said, "We respect the rights of the protesters. We also respect the rights of all of our customers to purchase legal merchandise."

Beverly Hills police escorted the group during the two-hour procession, which was peaceful but loud. Chants of "Fur trade, death trade" and "If there's fur on your back, there's blood on your hands" drew support and snickers. Some shoppers stopped to take pictures while others hurried past.

Outside Saks, Kayo Takahashi, 30, discreetly covered her rabbit fur-trimmed bag with her jean jacket as protesters went by. But Takahashi, who works in the fashion industry, said that even if she could afford a fur coat she "probably would not" get one.

Bernini general manager Tarek Hafez said selling and buying fur is an individual decision.

"We're in America. It's freedom. Anyone should be able to sell and wear whatever he wants," he said.

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