Since they started earlier this year, the regular animal-rights protests outside Puppy Palace in Hollywood have run the gambit from the awkwardly sarcastic to the deeply personal to the nearly violent. There have been police, PETA cookies, and a petting zoo. This weekend, though, as about 30 protesters gathered outside, a group of men hired off of Craigslist stood nearby holding signs of counterprotest.
The regular animal rights group held signs decrying puppy mills, shouted at store employees, and explained to potential customers the ethical dilemma involved with paying hundreds of dollars for a commercially bred dog while millions of animals die every year in shelters. Several activists described the counterprotesters as "thugs" and said they believed the men were hired to intimidate them. (During the last protest, activists handed out maps to local animal shelters and persuaded several potential customers to adopt shelter dogs.)
The counterprotesters explained that they were just doing a job, that they were being paid hourly to hold signs. This is the Craigslist classified ad looking for "tall strong individuals" to hold signs for four hours. The job paid $15 per hour.
At one point, after an animal-rights activist repeatedly called him a "scumbag," one of the hired men said, "Man, I see this dude on the block and I'd fucking twist his motherfucking head off." What ensued was a loud debate between protesters and hired counterprotesters about violence and freedom of speech. The activists asked the men if they'd just gotten out of prison, if they had any "drop the soap" incidents while in prison, and if they wanted to go back to prison soon. One of the counterprotesters announced that he had an album dropping soon.
This is video from the interaction:
"Puppy Palace continues to put energy into fighting activists, instead of redirecting that energy into solving the real issues," said Ghazal Tajalli, one of the protest organizers. She's the woman behind the camera you can hear in the video. "We are asking for Puppy Palace to go humane by adopting out only shelter dogs and by selling supplies. Fighting activists is inefficient. Instead I strongly urge Puppy Palace to reconsider their business practices."
We'll have more photos from the demonstration -- including a brief Lady Fight on the street -- shortly.