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Wetlands Works Newsletter June 2000
STOP OLD NAVY and BANANA REPUBLIC
Memorial Day weekend marked the launch of the NYC Old Navy Boycott. A puppet of a giant fish made his debut on May 27 at a Brooklyn demonstration, representing the endangered Coho salmon, one of the many species threatened with oblivion by the Mendocino Redwood Company. Gap Inc.'s owners, the Fisher family, owns this company as well as Old Navy, Banana Republic, and the Gap stores. 235,000 acres of ancient redwoods are being obliterated by the unsustainable logging of this company. Our Coho fish friend marched to drum beats in front of Old Navy at the Atlantic Avenue Shopping Center, and to the music of songs by folk singer and guitarist Ray Korona.
This year's national Banana Republic buyers' Spring show was the first to be greeted by a "Spring clothes fling." Many protestors spanning two generations were motivated to remove their duds and reveal signs reading "www.gapsucks.org," the name of the helpful info website. Energetic music was provided by drumming and chanting, and the message entered the ears of national clothes buyers to tell the Fisher family to halt environmental destruction, as well as the human rights abuses in their use of sweatshop labor to manufacture their clothes. All of us would rather wear nothing than wear Banana Republic.
ACTIVISTS INVADE QUEENS MACY'S to PROTEST FUR
As part of the anti-fur campaign against Macy's, a national protest tour will be targeting the company throughout the summer of 2000. The tour began with a weekend of protests at New York City Macy's stores: Herald Square in Manhattan on May 27, King's Plaza in Brooklyn on May 28, and Queens Center Mall at Rego Park on May 29. Animal rights activists want consumers to know that fur is cruel and completely unnecessary. Handing out informative flyers and petitions, and displaying pictures of animals that have been killed for fur, activists urge Macy's customers to participate in a boycott of Federated Department Stores, including Bloomingdale's, Macy's, and Stern's.
At the May 29th protest, demonstrators took the protest into the store to bring their message of compassion to customers. After the majority of the protesters had left, a group of about seven people posing as Macy's customers entered the store. Pretending to browse at various items along the way, the group headed for the fur salon. When they reached "The Fur Vault" the activists discretely pulled protest signs from an artist's portfolio. One activist shouted "Attention Macy's customers! We are here to let you know that 40,000,000 animals are dying every year to produce the fur coats sold by greedy stores like Macy's, one of America's top sellers of fur! We are asking you to boycott Macy's until they stop participating in the gassing, trapping, clubbing, anal and genital electrocution of animals for vanity garments!"
The protesters proceeded to chant, "Boycott Macy's! Fur is Murder", until they were confronted by security who threatened to call police if the group refused to leave. The demonstrators were then escorted out of the store, chanting the whole way.
According to Wetlands intern Allison Barra, one of the participants in the in-store, "This type of action grabs immediate attention, allowing us to reach many people in a short amount of time…more and more people will become aware of the violence inherent in the fur trade."
Wetlands is encouraging opponents of the fur trade to join the Long Island Animal Defense League on June 11th at 11AM at Roosevelt Field Mall. Come out and show your support! For more information call Long Island ADL at (631) 340-4708.
ENVIRONMENTAL/HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVISTS TALK TO AL GORE
At 8pm on May 16, activists from Wetlands and Rainforest Relief disrupted Al Gore's commencement address at Columbia University Law School's graduation ceremonies in Avery Fischer Hall at Lincoln Center. Gore's daughter was among the graduates. The activists criticized Gore's failure to condemn oil drilling in the cloud forest homeland of the U'wa people of Colombia by Occidental Petroleum, a company in which Gore holds a major financial interest. The protest follows the lifting of an injunction, which had temporarily prevented drilling on U'wa land, by a Colombian court on May 15.
As Gore, who was introduced as a "human rights advocate", spoke, Wetlands' very own Cindy Rosin of Queens and Joan Roney of Manhattan held up placards denouncing his investment in Occidental. The two shouted, "Vice President Al Gore, if you care about human rights and the environment, why are you supporting Occidental's destruction of the U'wa's cloudforest homeland in Colombia? You have $500,000 in Occidental stock. You have the power to stop this genocidal project!"
In front of the graduation audience, Gore offered to meet with the activists, who were subsequently detained. After initially hedging, the vice-president eventually fulfilled his promise and met with the activists for ten minutes. After being informed that the injunction preventing the Occidental project had been lifted just the day before, Gore stated that he would contact the company.
. The U'wa, a forest-dwelling group of about 5,000, have vowed to commit mass suicide should drilling proceed on their land. Such an action would have historical precedent, as a group of U'wa reportedly committed mass suicide 500 years ago rather than face assimilation by Spanish Conquistadors.
NY/NJ ACTIVISTS PROTEST KOHL'S UNIONBUSTING
On May 20, despite a light rainfall and cool weather, twenty New Jersey and New York activists rallied and leafleted at the Kohl's store in Paramus to build support for workers at the Mil Colores clothing factory in Nicaragua.
Standing by a 10-foot banner reading: "Kohl's: Stop Sweatshop Abuses," the activists passed out more than 1100 leaflets in less than two hours . The leaflets, written in both Spanish and English, asked Kohl's to use its influence on Nicaragua's Mil Colores, where some Kohl's labels are produced, to reverse the firing of 200 unionized workers and to drop criminal charges against 68 workers who had participated in a strike.
Many shoppers expressed support after talking with the activists. About 30 signed leaflets which were given to the store's manager.
Participating activists included members of the Global Sweatshop Coalition (of which Wetlands Activism Center is a member) and the Upper West Side-Tipitapa Sister Project, along with unaffiliated activists from both New York and New Jersey. The leafletting action was part of a nationwide campaign organized by the Washington, D.C.-based Campaign for Labor Rights, which mobilized similar actions at Kohl's and Target outlets in more than 95 cities nationwide during the May 8-21 period.