Hundreds of animal rights activists gathered at the Barclays Center on Wednesday evening to protest the 12 days of performances by Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, kicking off that night.
The diverse crowd ranged from Animal Defenders International veterans to fathers with their daughters to a group of young ballet dancers—all marching around the Atlantic Avenue promenade calling for an end to alleged animal abuses.
"Hey hey! Ho ho! These whips and chains have got to go," chanted the young ballet dancers, who were draped in a gigantic, grey plastic chain and wearing brightly colored tutus. They had come with their ballet instructor, parents and a young male friend who had helped to paint signs stating "Circuses are tutu cruel."
Richard Rollison shouted out animal death statistics as he walked with his 10-year-old daughter Jude, who carried a homemade collage bringing attention to the poor treatmant of elephants by trainers.
"Imagine the terror that a baby elephant feels when taken from his mother and tied in ropes ..." began postcards dispensed with the headline "Built to Enslave!"
Other activists were quieter, handing out ADI pamphlets near the sidewalk to those walking past.
"I don't want to scare any children who are coming to the circus with their families," said Allison Tray of Trés Belle Petit Medi Spa. But she thought it was positive for those children to see other kids speaking out against animal cruelty.
"The reality of what goes on is very different from the fantasy people have in their minds."