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8 Felony, 2 Misdemeanor Charges Dropped Against Activist Climbers of Bryant Park Movie Screen

New York- On June 30th, two protesters from the Activism Center at Wetlands Preserve pled to one count each of Disorderly Conduct and three days of community service in Manhattan Criminal Court at 100 Center Street. Each had been separately charged four days earlier with eight counts of Reckless Endangerment, one count of Trespass (misdemeanor), one count of Possession of a Graffiti Instrument (misdemeanor), and one count of Disorderly Conduct for scaling the scaffolding behind movie screen at Bryant Park and dropping a 350 square foot banner which read "Banana Republic: Stop Exploiting Workers and Forests!"

The banner was unfurled in front of thousands of spectators 15 minutes before the evening's film, Pal Joey, was to be shown as part of a weekly film festival co-sponsored by Banana Republic and HBO. Nearby, at the Times Square Gap store, about 100 protestors gathered to pass out leaflets and perform street theater to educate passersby about the use of sweatshop labor and destruction of the redwood forests in California by Gap, Inc., the owners of Gap, Banana Republic, and Old Navy.

The June 26th protests took place during a week of action called by the human rights organization Global Exchange (www.globalexchange.org), in response to a massive workers' strike in Cambodia, which ended unsuccessfully last week. Activists believe that negotiations between the workers and their employers could continue if consumers continue to pressure the buyers - many of which are U.S. corporations like Gap, Inc.

Protestors also object to Gap Inc.'s use of sweatshops in Saipan, a U.S. territory where the comapany escapes trade tariff laws for imports by producing within the legal boundaries of the U.S, but ignores US minimum wage and labor laws.

The Fisher family, who owns Gap Inc., is also the major owner of Mendocino Redwood Company, which is logging endangered and fragile redwood forests in Mendocino County, California. Their logging is destroying habitat for endangered species and other wildlife in some of the world's remaining redwood forests.

According to Allison Barra of the Activism Center at Wetlands Preserve "The Gap needs to hear from their customers that workers deserve fair wages and work conditions, and that ancient redwood forests need to be protected, not logged."

According to Cindy Rosin of the Activism Center at Wetlands Preserve, "The felony and misdemeanor charges in this case were a scare tactic to penalize nonviolent civil disobedience. The fact that they were dropped comes as no surprise." The activists intend to continue their campaign with weekly educational leaflettings during the Banana Republic sponsored film and leaflettings at Old Navy-sponsored concert in Brooklyn's Prospect Park.