“Can I hit that?” asked the woman in the Guy Fawkes mask, as she pointed to the vape pen in my hand. “Of course you can,” I replied. “It’s yours.” One hit was plenty; a second, superfluous, and there was still work to be done that day. It was a crisp but chilly Saturday afternoon when I met an old friend to watch her group’s protest action, and when she mentioned having her medical marijuana card, it seemed a nice opportunity to kill two birds with one stone, if you will.
That’s actually a terrible metaphor in this case, as she was protesting on behalf of Anonymous for the Voiceless, an adjunct of the legendary activist crew tasked with applying their own unique brand of in-your-face activism to a cause that held special meaning for her: animal rights. She went vegan only on Dec. 14, but has since advocated with real vegangelical verve, which eventually brought her into league with AV, whose style and methods can be intense, to say the least.
She produced a massive syringe loaded with 12mL of pure (legally) imported THC oil, from which she squeezed out .5mL into the glass chamber of her vape pen. The CBD oils for sale in Florida have very low THC content, but this was quite strong. Scoliosis started her along a path that led to four herniated disks and eventually arthritis, all before the age of 30, and it didn’t help that she made her living on her feet, waiting tables at restaurants around the state.
We were first to arrive at Mellow Mushroom in Avondale; she set up her camera and scoped the scene as the others trickled in, eventually numbering 10 of the cadre. Four of them stood at attention, back-to-back in a cube formation, each holding laptops playing some of the most visceral vivisection and animal abuse videos available.
A couple hundred people saw them in the course of two hours. The vast majority just walked by; a few heckled them, but dozens stopped to look more closely, and some inquired further. The best results were with kids: One preteen in a Ronald Reagan T-shirt lingered in silence for nearly 20 minutes while his friends narrated the action. An African-American father brought four kids under 10 with him to dialogue intensely with the organizers. As they left, one kid summed it all up with pithy precision: “So that’s what happens to animals. I don’t [want] to eat them anymore.”
Temperatures had dipped into the mid-40s by dark, but activist fires still burned, and they refused to leave. The fact that 10 people were willing to catch cold for the possibility of converting just one to their cause was deeply impressive, I thought as I watched football at Monty’s, to which I’d retreated from the cold halfway through. “The main reason I smoke now is to deal with the nightmares I get from slaughterhouse recordings,” she said over plates of vegan pizzas at the place where they’d just protested. It was better than I’d expected.