Animal activists face off with pro-fur advocates at city hearing

Animal-rights advocates faced off against human-rights activists during a heated City Council hearing Wednesday on a bill to ban new sales of fur apparel in the Big Apple.

Hundreds of animal supporters came out in support of the bill, sponsored by Speaker Corey Johnson, saying the methods used to kill creatures so fur can be manufactured are barbaric.

During the hearing, Dan Matthews of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals pulled out an animal trap and shattered a pencil in it to illustrate animal cruelty.

However, hundreds of others rallied against the ban, including fur-industry workers fearing for their jobs and black faith leaders who believe the ban discriminates against their heritage.

Frank Siller, whose owns Staten Island Furrier, told the council’s Committee on Consumer Affairs and Business Licensing that he runs a “family business” and that many of his employees simply “can’t be taught something else” after many years on the job.

“This is what they know and what they can do, and it’s a decent business whether you like it or not,” Siller said. “And I don’t think anyone has the right to come in and tell me I did something wrong, when I know I’m not doing something wrong — and I care about human beings!”

Another fur supporter said the ban was a slap at African-Americans.

“Opponents of fur do not understand its importance in the black community,” said the Rev. Johnnie Green of Mount Neboh Baptist Church in Harlem.

“A ban on fur is a ban on black culture . . . and we cannot — and will not — stand for this injustice and this discrimination.”

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