On Sunday, the actor and New York City resident invited every New York City Council member to tour the Clinton Park Stables, one of the stables where Central Park’s off-duty carriage horses are housed. Neeson used the meeting as an opportunity to speak against the proposed ban on the park’s iconic horse-drawn carriages, reports The New York Times.
“This is an industry that’s been here since before Abraham Lincoln’s first inauguration, Neeson told the press gathered at the stables. “A beautiful industry it is. It’s a connection with our past.”
Neeson also added that he believes the horses are well-cared for, but animal-rights activists disagree. Many supporters of the carriage ban believe the horses are treated like prisoners, and that bustling Midtown traffic is no place for an animal.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who helped to put the ban together, was missing from Neeson’s meeting. The mayor’s absence ignited a snappy response from the actor.
He should have manned up and come, Neeson said.
On MSNBC’s Morning Joe program, the mayor said, “I am a Liam Neeson fan. I am, [but] horses in the streets of the city today don’t make sense. They’ve been banned in cities all over the world. We’re going to fix it. But I will spend time with Liam Neeson. He’s a great actor.”
If de Blasio’s ban passes, the plan is to relocate all carriage horses to rescue farms. The mayor told The Times that he is also working to set up alternate employment opportunities for the drivers, such as bringing a line of antique-style electric cars to Central Park as a replacement.
Jimmy Fallon showed his support for Neeson’s fight, siding with the actor during a Tonight Show interview on Thursday. But the ban isn’t without its own celebrity supporters.
Numerous entertainers have spoken out for an end to horse-drawn carriages over the years, including Miley Cyrus, Alec Baldwin and Kaley Cuoco. One of the effort’s most prominent supporters is Glee actress Lea Michele, who has worked with PETA since 2011 to spread awareness about the dangerous conditions carriage horses endure on a daily basis.
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