Newsletter - Animal Writes sm
24 November 1999 Issue

By Cres Vellucci

A historical perspective provided by Cres Vellucci, one of the founders of this important event.

"Fur-Free Friday" was created in 1986 by Trans Species Unlimited (TSU), based in Pennsylvania with West Coast offices in California, as a way to focus on department stores' decision to sell fur. At the time, George Cave was the director of TSU, and Cres Vellucci was the West Coast Director.

Prior to Fur-Free Friday, there were sporadic fur protests in the early and mid-1980s. However, activists with TSU felt there needed to be some kind of coordinated action to increase the intensity of protest against the cruelties of the fur industry. TSU also wanted activity that was more dramatic than passing out flyers.

In creating Fur-Free Friday, the intent was to provide grassroots activists all over the U.S. the opportunity to participate in a coordinated direct action against department stores. The focus was also placed on acts of nonviolent civil disobedience at these stores, similar to the lunch counter sit-ins and other civil rights actions.

In 1985, in a prelude to this organized event, two groups of activists -- one in the New York Macy's and another in the Sacramento Macy's - did the first-ever coordinated, non-violent civil disobedience activity protesting fur in the U.S. The arrests totaled several dozen. The following year, the dedicated anti-fur activists hit stores on what is widely known as the busiest shopping day of the year, the day after Thanksgiving. The day became known in the movement as Fur-Free Friday.

At its height of popularity among activists, Fur-Free Friday involved dozens of grassroots groups in more than 30 states, all engaged in non-violent protests that resulted in hundreds of arrests. Meanwhile, as Fur-Free Friday grew, fur sales slumped. In the 1980s, fur sales topped more than $2 billion a year and, likely due to protests such as Fur-Free Friday, have dwindled to about half that currently.

By the early and mid-1990s, Fur-Free Friday had been recognized in the animal movement as being one of the most widely attended U.S. protests against animal suffering. Nationally recognized organizations such as In Defense of Animals (IDA) have been significant promoters of the movement-wide event by providing anti-fur posters and informational literature.

In 1997, Fur-Free Friday saw a range of activities, including non-violent civil disobedience. More than 100 dedicated activists were arrested while making their statements of protest against fur. Fur-Free Friday is one of the few nationally recognized days in the animal movement with "ownership" belonging to grassroots activists determined to halt the cruel fur industry and retailers of its products.

This website celebrates the empowerment Fur-Free Friday gives animal activists to make a difference against a cruel industry. offers them a tool to help promote their actions to other compassionate and dedicated people.

Cres Vellucci can be contacted via email at: [email protected]

Go on to The Facts: Fur Trapping, Fur Farming, U.S. Fur Trade Economy
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