The “fur police” have already been active on the streets of Hamburg, Berlin, Düsseldorf and elsewhere.
“Even though the majority of the population reject real fur products like fur coats, animal fur can still be found on small accessories,” the animal protection group wrote in its announcement on Saturday.
“Animals had to give their lives in cruel captivity for these small products too … Therefore in the coming weeks, our activists are going to patrol the streets in different big cities to clarify the unspeakable animal suffering behind the products.”
But activists in Hamburg have already hit a snag in their plan. A video captured by the Hamburger Morgenpost shows two “fur police” being stopped by real officers who then seemingly take down their details.
The pair later explained to the Morgenpost that they were told they could not patrol the streets dressed so similarly to real police officers, because it was causing confusion.
“The police decision in Hamburg today was to say that we should take off the uniforms because it was causing confusion. A few passersby thought, here is someone walking around impersonating police,” activist Jennifer Schöpf told the Morgenpost.
“They didn’t know exactly what we were doing.”
And while she and her fellow fur police officer, Michael Seitz, said they would comply with the officers’ request, they said what they were doing was not illegal.
“It was clear to us how far would be allowed to go. Legally it seems that it is not forbidden to go on the street with a police uniform like this,” said Seitz.
“There are things to observe, like not wearing insignia, and we are not doing this with our logo. In this respect, are not violating any law whatsoever.’
But some have compared the initiative to the “sharia police” group that patrolled streets in the western city of Wuppertal to tell people not to drink, gamble or listen to music.
A court ruled in November that the group did not break a ban on political uniforms with their orange vests on which “Sharia Police” were written. The uniforms would have only violating this law – originally intended to combat street gangs like the early Nazi party – if they had been “suggestively militant or intimidating.”
But Schöpf told Die Welt that her animal rights group rejected such comparisons to the sharia police.
“We distance ourselves from the ‘sharia police’ in all forms,” she said, explaining that they saw their role more as for consumer protection.