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Sunday, January 4, 2009

Nathan Runkle, Gay Founder of Mercy For Animals, Brutally Attacked

I was shocked and saddened to hear of the recent brutal attack on Nathan Runkle, founder and director of animal rights group Mercy for Animals, who also happens to be gay. The vegan/animal rights boards are all abuzz with this sad and frightening news, and for me it's reinforced some thoughts I've been having lately about the ways that the fight for animal rights intersects with other struggles for equality, and the importance of building bridges between these various movements. They are all linked, and the responsibility falls on every single one of us to fight cruelty and injustice on many fronts. I'm not the most eloquent or best informed writer on these topics, so I suggest that you read this and this.

For my own part, I have subscribed to the Human Rights Campaign's newsletter and email alerts, and plan to feature this group in a few months as my charity of the month. I need to do some thinking about how I can start to be more active, both in the fight for animal rights, and in other social movements as well.

Press Release

Gay Leader of National Animal Rights Organization Brutally Attacked in Apparent Hate-Motivated Crime

Police Investigating Felonious Assault Case

Victim Hopes Attack will Lead to Inclusion of Gays in Ohio Hate Crime Law

Dayton, OH - Nathan Runkle, the 24-year old openly gay founder and Executive Director of the national animal advocacy organization, Mercy For Animals, was brutally assaulted on Saturday morning in an apparent hate crime. Runkle is a nationally recognized leader in the animal protection movement, who was recently named one of the world’s “25 Most Fascinating Vegetarians” by VegNews Magazine. The assault, which occurred at Masque, a gay night club in Dayton, Ohio, was completely unprovoked.

The attacker, believed to be a heterosexual white male with no previous relationship to the victim, has not yet been identified or apprehended. Runkle was briefly hospitalized after sustaining two facial fractures, a broken nose, deviated septum, and severe facial bruising. The incident has been labeled a felonious assault and is currently under investigation by the Dayton Police Department. Runkle believes the assault was motivated by hatred toward gays and was intended to send a fearful message to the local gay community.

Sexual orientation-motivated crimes are currently not addressed under Ohio hate crimes laws. The laws address only crimes motivated by race, color, religion, or national origin. Gay rights advocates have long urged state legislators to follow the lead of 31 other states who have already enacted specific legislation protecting gays from hate-based violence.

Runkle is the founder of Mercy For Animals (MFA), a national organization with over 25,000 members. The organization focuses on protecting farmed animals from cruelty through undercover investigations at factory farms and slaughterhouses and through public education and advertisement campaigns. Earlier this year MFA made national headlines after releasing shocking undercover investigation footage of hens at a California egg farm crammed into filthy cages suffering numerous cruelties and neglect. The investigation resulted in grocery giant,Trader Joe’s, dropping the cruel farm as a supplier. MFA’s most recent investigation at California’s largest egg farm helped pass California’s historic Proposition 2 in November, which requires that by 2015 farm animals in the state be given enough room to stand up, lie down, and spread their limbs.

MFA has long worked to bridge the gap between the common prejudices which lead to oppression and abuses faced by both animals and minorities. In recent years MFA has joined gay advocates in gay pride marches by forming human rainbows preceded by banners declaring, “No one is free when others are oppressed.” The organization has also been a lead opponent of gay rodeo events, citing the community’s obligation to protect animals from needless violence.


jarvenpa said...

This is appalling. And yes, I agree, respect for the rights of all is inclusive; all things connect.

On a happier note--wow, your new work is gorgeous! (and fortunately not in my size. Well, fortunately for my budget)

bella-bijoujewellery said...

How awefull and disgusting :-(

silentlotuscreations said...

Thanks so much for posting this, T. You are so right about the parallels between the fight for animal rights and human rights. The treatment of women, gays, and other minority groups in a society predicts its overall stance on human rights, as does the treatment of animals. The suffering of animals is often just as, if not more, hidden, ignored, and justified. :{

Good luck with your goal to be more active! :)

Canadian Rockies Art - Nathalie Girard said...

Oh this is so very sad :-(

pattricejones said...

Tamara, Thanks for taking up the challenge to not just recognize but do something abut the intersections.