Tuesday, March 23, 2010

March 29; Drop the charges!: Call-in In Support Of Minneapolis Fur Protesters

As fur 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 either

After 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

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.

In a 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 .

Defendant Michael Lawson released this statement after the arraignment;

"If Ribnick thinks he's the only person that can pressure the prosecutor; he's wrong.

We may 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"

Peter and Lawson can't beat Ribnick in money, but they intend to beat him in
community support.

That's 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"

They are now asking people to call the city prosecutors office and tell them to
"Drop the Charges against Isaac Peter and Michael Lawson" immediately.

Call-in for Isaac and Michael

When? Monday March 29th, all day

Who? Susan Segal, city attorney 612-673-3272

What? Demand she drop the the charges against Isaac Peter and Michael Lawson and
tell her that we won't standby while our rights to free speech and peaceful
protest is being thrown out the window. Please keep calls polite but insistent.

No comments: