Jim Redden for the 3/28/06 Portland Tribune reported on the animal rights persons protesting every Saturday in front of Schumacher Fur & Outerwear Co. in downtown Portland, Oregon. Redden further reported, with quote marks, that Precinct Cmdr. Dave Bennett thinks that the company should just move away.
As it turns out according to Commissioner Randy Leonard, the Schumacher company is partly to blame for the situation because they have disregarded police advice to close the store down on Saturdays, when the protesters show up. Further, the business owners have argued with the protesters and mocked them!
Redden further reported that some of the protesters "dress up as animals and roll around on the sidewalk pretending they are being killed." Now how could a person bring themselves to mock a person dressed in an animal suit rolling around on the sidewalk?
It's likely true that if the Schumachers go away or shut down, as suggested by police, the protesters would lose further interest in protesting them. The Portland Tribune's explanation for the accompanying photo of a protester all dolled up in a goofy gloves, a skull mask and a blonde wig ??? is that Kit Collins (presumably the person so righteously costumed) hasn't missed a Saturday protest since they started and her goal is to "keep showing up until the store closes." If that's the goal, and if the protests are organized around that goal, it seems to me that there may be at least a borderline violation of the Animal Enterprise Terror Act. (Public Law 102-346 - U.S. Code Title 18, Part I, Chapter 3, section 43). The law makes violation a felony if over $10,000 in damages occur, and there have been convictions under the law. Wonder what the damages could be if a well established fur store would be forced to close, losing the considerable investment in the store location?
There have been arrests of the protesters, exactly three so far, despite the obvious disinclination of the police to make any arrests. Redden quotes Benson, "My own personal contact with the protesters and the contact had by my sergeants is that they are generally very nice people that have very strong views about selling fur." A person would, of course, have to have "strong views" to dress up in an animal suit and roll around on the sidewalk pretending to being killed. I guess one definition of "strong views" might be "poor impulse control."
According to Redden the police see this as a matter of the nice people acting within their first amendment rights. So I must suppose that in the police view, those other people acting within their first amendment rights, the Schumachers who argued with and mocked the protesters, are just not nice and for this reason, should just go away. (Covering mouth and sneezing, AH-CHOOO, equal protection of the law.)
This is really pretty repulsive on the part of the city government. I mean, the protesters don't even get sympathy from Jeff Alworth on a local progressive website (go to blueoregon.com.)
I feel sorry for the Schumachers who are doing nothing illegal - except possibly playing Christmas music loudly in response to the protesters' city-licensed use of a bullhorn to augment their supposed first amendment rights to protest until a business shuts down. The Schumachers have a considerable investment at risk. I feel sorry for the businessmen of Portland who are trying to steer businesses through the antagonism of much of the local government busybodies who are largely responsible for a "toxic" retail environment. (Dave Rogoway of Cutters Jewelry) I also feel sorry for the residents of Portland watching business after business being replaced by the ever-increasing number of "quick loan at unconscionable interest" stores. (Betcha every one of 'em you see represents a real business which once provided goods, services, and jobs but then died at that location.) Shoot, I even feel sorry for the boneheads, I mean nice people with strong views every one, who are protesting. It is pitiful, when you think about it, that a person's entire notion of self worth could be so shriveled and weak as to require dressing up like animals and rolling around on the sidewalk pretending to being killed by an electrified probe up their inconsiderable anuses.
I don't, however, feel sorry for Commissioner Leonard and Precinct Commdr. Benson.
You should all find out where they live and go shout at them every weekend without end until their neighbors and families urge them, beg them, to move away to someplace else where you won't feel like going to shout at them anymore.
I am, to be sure, merely exercising my first amendment rights, here, in making such a suggestion.