Activists Picket Liam Neeson's NYC Apartment, Protesting Support For Horse Carriages

| by Allison Geller

Animal welfare activists picketed outside Liam Neeson’s Manhattan apartment building, taking the actor to task on his support for New York’s horse-drawn carriage trade.

Neeson wrote an op-ed to the New York Times supporting the industry, which is due to be phased out. About 50 demonstrators showed up outside his building on the Upper West Side Saturday as police officers stood by and doormen took pictures, holding signs reading "Liam Neeson: Stop Supporting Cruelty!" and "Worked to Death!" accompanied by pictures of dead horses.

Peter Wood, an animal protection investigator, said that horse-drawn carriages, a typical New York City tourist attraction, is cruel to the animals, whose health is endangered by traffic, pollution, and accidents. 

"It's 2014, not 1914. It's time for a change," said Wood.

"Horses don't belong in traffic, surrounded by buses. They don't belong in the city; it's outdated, it's cruel," he added. "Life attached to a carriage with a poop bag attached to your rear end — that's no life."

Neeson wrote in his op-ed, titled “Carriages Belong in Central Park,” that he has been an avid equestrian his whole life.

“I can appreciate a happy and well-cared-for horse when I see one,” the “Schindler’s List” actor wrote. “It has been my experience, always, that horses, much like humans, are at their happiest and healthiest when working.”

“New York’s horse-carriage trade is a humane industry that is well regulated by New York City’s Departments of Health and Mental Hygiene and Consumer Affairs,” he added. “Harry W. Werner, a past president of the American Association of Equine Practitioners, has visited the stables and 'found no evidence whatsoever of inhumane conditions, neglect or cruelty in any aspect.'"

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio pledged to replace the horse carriages, which have been eradicated from London, Paris, and Toronto for years, with vintage-style “eCarriages.” Supported by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the anti-carriage group NYClass, the initiative has so far gained little traction, and many continue to support the traditional use of horses for a carriage ride in Central Park.

Sources: Associated Press, New York Times (2)