“Depriving chimps of food and water; Howard Milstein, primate slaughter!” they chanted outside 888 Park Avenue. Though the developer was nowhere to be found, the message was clear — no more monkey business.
Animal rights activists on Thursday night picketed outside the Upper East Side home of the Milstein Properties head, with around two dozen people protesting the New York Blood Center chair’s role in the organization’s treatment of research chimpanzees in Africa.
The protesters, organized by animal rights movement Their Turn, have fumed over New York Blood Center’s decision to withdraw funds that provided care to 66 chimpanzees used for research at the blood bank’s former biomedical facility in Liberia.
The New York Blood Center issued a statement claiming that it doesn’t own the 66 chimpanzees and never has.
“The animals are owned by the Liberian government, and their officials have repeatedly acknowledge that they have responsibility for the care of the chimpanzees – most recently in legal documents filed in March of this year,” the organization said.
Activists voiced their displeasure at Milstein’s role in the organization’s decision and eventually staged a “die-in,” with the activists lying on their backs under 888 Park Avenue’s front-door awning, still chanting.
Their Turn’s Donny Moss said the police initially wanted to keep the protesters barricaded in front of Milstein’s building. The activists refused, Moss said, citing the sidewalk’s status as public property, and were eventually allowed to march in front of the building.
Moss said he suspected Milstein and the New York Blood Center did not want the “negative publicity” that would be associated a police crackdown on the protest. “I’m guessing Milstein told the police not to arrest us,” he told The Real Deal. He added that the activists are organizing another protest outside Milstein’s home next Tuesday.
Milstein, who was also targeted by Occupy Wall Street protesters in 2011, did not respond to a request for comment.
The New York Blood Center opened its Liberian research facility in 1975 and operated it for 30 years before closing the facility in 2005. While the organization had provided funding to care for the research chimpanzees since the facility’s closing, it decided to cut off funds earlier this year – a decision criticized by the Humane Society of the United States and renowned primatologist Jane Goodall.