In Support Of Minneapolis Fur Protesters
protesters and avid animal lovers Isaac Peter and Michael Lawson stood chanting
anti-fur slogans on the sidewalk outside of Ribnick's Furs in downtown Minneapolis
on March 2, neither expected to be spending their evening undergoing booking
at the Hennepin County jail. They had been protesting in the same location,
using the same chants for over 5 months -- why would March 2 be any different?
Officers (including sargents) had often assuring them "You can chant
as much as you want, scream to the top of your lungs for all I care, just
don't block the sidewalks". But
(date of arrest) took a turn for the worst; when two Minneapolis police
officers who Peter and Lawson had never seen before arrived on the scene,
entering into the storefront without attempting to engage in dialogue with
speaking with owner Bill Ribnick, they exited, informing both protesters
they were being charged with disorderly conduct for being "too loud".
Both protesters attempted to tell the officers of the circumstances, and
that previous officers had given them assurance that they were acting within
their rights. The male officer's response was immediately that he "wasn't
interested". Peter and Lawson were taken to the Hennepin County jail
until bail was posted. When it came time for their arraignment, it became
clear that this was not an ordinary "disorderly conduct" charge.
Bill Ribnick, owner of Ribnick's Furs – who was not even a party to
this case -- was in attendance with a very expensive and affluent attorney
by his side, talking with a city prosecutor, as she hugged him and gave
him her condolences.
disgusting attempt to curb free speech, and a shocking example of a prosecution
pandering to the interests of a wealthy businessman – the city offered
to drop the charges in exchange that Isaac and Michael not be allowed to
exercise their right to protest at Ribnick's Furs for a year. Both
Isaac Peter and Michael Lawson refused the deal, citing outrage at the back-room
bribery that had taken place and a undeterred dedication to the mink, fox,
chinchilla, and other animals killed for fur .
Michael Lawson released this statement after the arraignment;
Ribnick thinks he's the only person that can pressure the prosecutor; he's
not have the money or political connections that Bill Ribnick has, but we
have a broader network of people committed to free speech and compassion
towards animals than he could ever hope to have. The voice of the people
will always beat back-room scheming"
and Lawson can't beat Ribnick in money, but they intend to beat him in community
why we need compassionate folks to call prosecutor Susan Segal and tell
her that scheming with Ribnick Furs and other businesses to criminalize
legally-protected boycott and protest is unacceptable"