Following the announcement in March that the New York City Council would vote on a ban on the sale of fur in New York City, a network of support has mobilized around the majority-Greek American owned fur industry in the city.
The Hellenic American Leadership Council, a Chicago-based activist organization that has worked extensively building a network in Washington DC to support and promote Greek and Cypriot national issues, has launched a campaign to support Greek American fur businesses in New York City, which are more than half of the entire industry.
“It’s not often HALC comments on domestic policies, but New York City’s proposed fur ban is set to harm the Greek American community AND Greece itself. That’s why we’re writing to you to ask that you speak up,” according to a letter to members sent by Endy Zemenides, HALC’s executive director.
According to the proposed bill in the New York City Council that has been introduced by Council Speaker Corey Johnson, the ban would prohibit the manufacturing or selling of fur goods such as coats, boots and other items.
“As an animal lover, I believe it is cruel to kill an animal just for the purpose of people buying and wearing a fur coat. There is really no need for this,” said Johnson in an interview with The New York Post.
More than half of the city’s fur businesses are owned by Greek families, with many being small, decades-old, family businesses started by Greek immigrants— many from Kastoria, where the fur trade in Greece is centered.
The supporters of this legislation, according to Zemenides, have not engaged with these businesses to determine what kind of damage they would suffer under the legislation as presently written.
Furthermore, the HALC effort points to how the proposed fur ban in New York City would impact areas like Kastoria, in northern Greece, one of the world’s most prolific fur exporters.
“As Greece works to emerge from its economic crisis, it cannot afford to see another industry wiped out overnight. New York City is doing nothing less than undermining the closer economic relationship the U.S. has promised to build with Greece,” according to Zemenides.
HALC urges its members and members of the Greek American community to contact members of New York City Council with an online tool that have created called NO FUR BAN that sends messages directly to their Council members, depending upon their zip code.
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