Animal activists were out protesting President Donald Trump this week in Hollywood, and they were eager to talk to Dartmouth graduate and aspiring filmmaker Austen Fleccas about their beef with the president, even though those reasons didn’t always make sense.
Congregating on Hollywood Blvd around Trump’s Hollywood Walk of Fame sidewalk star, the protesters held up signs while chanting, "There's no excuse for animal abuse!" One protester added that Trump is "against all humans and animals."
Fleccas interviewed several of the participants, who told him they were protesting the USDA’s decision to remove their list of animal welfare reports from its Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, but attributed the decision directly to the president.
“Why are you against Trump," Fleccas asked one protester.
"Because he's an evil dictator," she responded, then went on to explain it is because he is a capitalist. Explaining that she is a communist, the unnamed protester continued, saying that communism has worked in America. "It's kind of worked in America, in a way, back in the day...no?"
Others focused on the animal rights aspect, saying they wanted all animals to be set free.
"Total animal liberation," one protester said. Another proclaimed that people who fight for human rights but not for animal rights are "speciesists."
Last month, the USDA removed public access to tens of thousands of records documenting whether animals kept by research labs, circuses, and other entities were being treated humanely, citing individual privacy rights as the reason for the removal. Though the documents were still available through FOIA requests, the United States Humane Society challenged the legality of the move, saying that the agency was eliminating transparency.
The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services office has since clarified that the information was taken offline to conduct a comprehensive privacy review and the information is slowly being loaded back onto the site as appropriate.