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New York City Considering Banning Sale Of Fur Garments

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The New York City Council held a hearing on a proposed fur ban on Monday afternoon.

Supporters said the ban is the humane thing to do, while opponents called the bill a job killer, CBS2's Marcia Kramer reported.

Web Extra: Fur Supporters Protest Against Proposed Ban Ahead Of Hearing 

The New York City flag enshrines the historical importance of the fur industry -- two beavers have pride of place in the official insignia. But Council Speaker Corey Johnson said they should be a symbol of the future, not the past.

"If beavers are the future of our city flag, it should be because they are alive and well in our rivers and streams, not because they're hanging dead on racks in our stores," Johnson said.

Prior to the hearing, the fur was flying at City Hall as hundreds chanted "Save our Jobs" during a rally in opposition to a bill to ban the sale of fur and shearling in the city. Many wore furs to hammer home their point.

Broadway producer and designer Irene Gandy claimed furs are an important part of the city's African-American tradition.

"On any given Sunday, you walk into an African-American church, you can see at least $2 million worth of furs worn by black men, black women, black children," Gandy said. "My mama didn't tell me what to wear and the city council is not going to tell me what to wear."

Opponents of the bill have a long list of gripes, insisting a ban will decimate a thriving city industry. They said it will shut down 150 small businesses, many of which are owned by immigrant families, put an estimated 7,500 people out of work, and result in a loss of $850 million in revenue.

"My store represents quintessential New York," said Nadeem Waheedid, owner of Danniel's Leather. "I have people from so many different countries working in my store. I have people from Guyana, I have people from Ukraine, I have people from Romania, I have people from Bangladesh, I have people from India... We don't want to lose our jobs. We have enough empty stores in New York City as it is."

The bill bans the sale of fur apparel in all five boroughs, with some exceptions. Used furs can still be sold or remodeled and fur can still be used in the hats worn by some Orthodox Jews or garments worn for religious custom, Kramer reported.

MORE: 'Save Our Jobs': Furriers Protest Against Proposed Ban On Fur Sales In NYC

Animal rights activists said killing animals for clothes is inhumane. Fashion designer Tim Gunn of Project Runway attacked the way animals are slaughtered.

"Foxes, rabbits, chinchillas and even dogs and cats are anally electrocuted, gased, bludgeoned and often skinned alive," Gunn said.

Speaker Johnson, a prime sponsor of the bill, represents the Garment Center district where many of the businesses are located.

"We don't need to keep killing tens of millions, hundreds of millions of innocent animals every single year from around the globe just so that people can wear them. This is a compassionate thing to do," Johnson said.

Fur bans have already been approved in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Major luxury brands like Michael Kors, Gucci and Coach have already gone fur free. The industry argues that banned fur will drive the businesses out of the city. New Jersey, Westchester County and Long Island could all benefit.

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