Hundreds rally against proposed New York City fur ban

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Hundreds of furriers, workers, and environmentalists rallied at City Hall Tuesday to voice their opposition to a City Council proposal to ban the sale of real fur and shearling ahead of a public hearing.

They argue a fur ban would have a devastating impact on New York City, shuttering hundreds of small business, putting thousands out of work, infringing on consumer choice and harming the environment.

The burgeoning movement to outlaw fur is seeking to make its biggest statement yet in the fashion mecca of New York City, but opponents claim it could shut down as many as 150 small businesses, many owned by immigrant families, on average, for over 47 years.

The also claim it would put 7,500 New Yorkers out of work, remove $850 million per year in revenue from the city's coffers, expand the use of fake furs made of non-biodegradable plastics, and open the door to banning other animal products -- including leather, wool and silk.

Lawmakers are pushing a measure that would ban the sale of all new fur products in the city, and a similar measure in the state Capitol in Albany would impose a statewide ban on the sale of any items made with farmed fur and ban the manufacture of products made from trapped fur.

Supporters emphasize that the wearing of fur is barbaric and inhumane.

"Cruelty should not be confused with economic development," said state Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, a Democrat from Manhattan, who is sponsoring the state legislation. "Fur relies on violence to innocent animals. That should be no one's business."

The fate of the proposals could be decided in the coming months, though supporters acknowledge New York City's measure has a better chance of passage than the state legislation.

The fur trade is considered so important to New York's development that two beavers adorn the city's official seal, a reference to early Dutch and English settlers who traded in beaver pelts.

At the height of the fur business in the last century, New York City manufactured 80% of the fur coats made in the U.S, according to FUR NYC, a group representing 130 retailers and manufacturers in the city. The group says New York City remains the largest market for fur products in the country, with real fur still frequently used as trim on coats, jackets and other items.

If passed, New York would become the third major American city with such a ban, following San Francisco, where a ban takes effect this year, and Los Angeles, where a ban passed this year will take effect in 2021.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)

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