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'This is criminal harassment': Vancouver fur boutique manager seeing red after activists strike again

Just three months after being coated in red paint, two Vancouver fur stores have been attacked again by vandals who squirted a rancid liquid into Speiser Furs on Granville Street and Snowflake on Pender Street.

"It smells as if a baby had thrown up sour milk in your face," said Halprin.

Surveillance video showed two people approaching the store early Tuesday morning disguised in heavy coats, bandanas and hats. They squirted at least a half dozen syringes filled with a white liquid seven metres into the building through a gap in the front doors.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack. It comes just three months after the Animal Liberation Front said it was behind a night of vandalism at Snowflake and Speiser Furs, plus Pappas Furs and Capilano Furs. In that attack, vandals threw barrels of red paint at the four stores' front windows.

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Animal activists are believed to be behind a Monday night attack on a downtown Vancouver clothing store, only three months after another attack that saw red paint splattered over its storefront windows.

A manager at downtown boutique Snowflake -- which sells leather and cashmere wear in addition to fur -- reported a "noxious smell" Tuesday morning just after 8 a.m. when opening the West Pender store. Hazmat crews and police were called to investigate the smell, which was a result of a substance that appeared to have been sprayed into the store through cracks under and around the door.

While police have not identified the substance, which has left two pale white streaks about a metre and a half in length on the wooden floor, it was deemed not poisonous and initial investigation believes it may have been milk.
Co-owner Megan Halprin, however, is tired of dealing with activists she says have gone too far.

"This isn't free speech," she said, adding the attacks have caused her to be wary of anything out of the norm. "Free speech is (saying), 'I don't believe in fur. I don't want to wear fur. Goodbye and good luck to you.'
"This is criminal harassment. This is vandalism."

Halprin believes the activists' "abuse of the right to free speech" has unfairly overtaken her right to peace and safety. In May, Halprin's storefront -- along with Vancouver's Pappas Furs and Speiser Furs, and North Vancouver's Capilano Furs -- was splattered with red paint. One store owner also had paint dumped on his vehicles.

At the time, an animal rights extremist group called the Animal Liberation Front claimed responsibility for those acts in a press release that said it was a reminder "of the innocent blood spilled every day in the vicious fur trade."
"This action is dedicated to the hundreds of thousands of mink suffering and dying on the many, filthy, polluted fur farms in the Lower Mainland," the release had read.

It's unclear whether the culprits behind this week's incident are linked to the ALF and there are currently no suspects.

"They wear masks, they wear sunglasses and hoodies. They come in the middle of the night," Halprin said of activists who have targeted her store in the past. "They are cowards."

While Halprin doesn't believe any of the store's clothing has been damaged, she says only time will tell if the smell has been absorbed into any of the clothing, fabrics or material.

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