Palm Beach Fur Retailers, Beware: This Man Is Coming for You | New Times Broward-Palm Beach

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Palm Beach Fur Retailers, Beware: This Man Is Coming for You

In this video, made last Friday on what activists deemed "Fur Free Friday," a local animal rights crusader named Josh Durden takes a camera into several high-end clothing stores to ask the employees selling fur what they think of the disgusting animal-skinning processes used to procure most fur.

He visits the Bloomingdale's at the Town Center Mall in Boca Raton, three Saks Fifth Avenue stores, and two Max Mara stores. The responses he gets range from "Get out before I call the police" to the Max Mara employee who follows him for a confrontation in the parking garage.

Now, fur is one of those odd, antiquated notions in modern society, an anachronism of sorts. There are basically three groups that should wear animal fur:

1) Eskimos living near the Arctic Circle.
2) Conquering emperors who need a way to show that they command the power and wealth required to skin many animals and turn the resulting carcasses into outerwear.
3) The animals born with that fur.

Sadly, most of the patrons of these Palm Beach establishments do not fit into any of those groups. The good news -- for them, at least -- is that we live in South Florida, where winter low temperatures are often still above 80 degrees and nobody could possibly need a fur coat.

Most of the store employees Durden confronts in the video say nothing or immediately dial security. Some are especially polite when asking him to leave. One man, an employee of the Max Mara at Bal Harbour seen in the video around the 6:30 mark, follows Durden to the parking garage to tell him that what he's just done is "trespassing."

When Durden asks the man if he cares about animals, the man says, "No, I eat them. I love fur. I love leather." Later, though, the man says that he does care but that he's paid a lot of money to work at the designer store. He also tells Durden that he won't call the police because he doesn't want to ruin his holidays.

Durden says this was a "social experiment" aimed at informing the sales clerks and store employees who may not know what the fur industry involves. "I attempted to educate the purveyors of the skin trade about exactly what they are representing by selling fur in their stores," he says. "Although none of them seemed to listen or care, I still hold out the hope that at least one or two of them think about what I said the next time they are showing a mink coat to a customer."

He says the fur practices he's heard about, especially on the PETA website, are "horrific and disgusting." Specifically, he says, "These animals are hung upside down and have the skin torn from their bodies while they are still alive and screaming. Then, their skinless bodies are thrown onto piles of other skinned animals, where they lay writhing in agony for periods of ten to 15 minutes before finally bleeding to death."

Durden knows his Michael Moore-esque tactics are less-than-pleasant but says he will do what it takes for his cause. "Some may not agree with my methods, but in this situation, where these people are preprogrammed to believe that there is nothing morally wrong with what they are doing, the only way to get through to them is through shock and surprise," he says. "I simply gave these people the gift of enlightenment."