The situation outside of downtown's Schumacher Fur Co. has gotten even, uh, hairier in the past few weeks: Every Saturday since Thanksgiving, anti-fur activists—loosely organized by the group In Defense of Animals (IDA)—have staged a protest in front of the downtown fur store. Last month, two activists were arrested after Schumacher Fur taped anti-activist signs in their windows ["Fur Fighters," March 9]. This week, both the activists and the store's owners are taking their causes to the city council.
Shop co-owner Linda Schumacher and several employees were slated to speak in front of the city council on Wednesday morning, April 5.
"It's not a fur issue, and it's not necessarily a protest issue. It's a law enforcement issue," says Gregg Schumacher. "What we're saying from our side is if you're not for fur, that's fine with us. We don't have a problem with that. And we encourage people to express their First Amendment rights. But when they start crossing the line as far as doing criminal acts, then we're having a problem."
Schumacher says they'd like the police to "enforce the law and arrest the people that have committed crimes against me, my wife, our employees, and our building."
Meanwhile, IDA's Northwest Coordinator Matt Rossell delivered a letter to the city council on Tuesday afternoon, April 4, outlining the activists' side of things.
"The objective of [the] weekly demonstration... is to educate the public about animal cruelty issues, not put Schumacher Fur Co. out of business," Rossell wrote. "Contrary to what the Schumachers may tell you, they are far from being innocent victims in any conflict that has occurred."
He also gave city officials a DVD about the fur industry, and a list of "escalating events" he alleges the Schumachers have engaged in, like grabbing activists' signs.
But despite the ratcheted-up rhetoric of the past week, the standoff may be nearing a close: At Mayor Tom Potter's suggestion, both sides have agreed to mediation. "We committed to the mayor's office that we would mediate if the other side would mediate," Gregg Schumacher says. Rossell's up for it: "I do have a proposal that we would probably, if [Schumachers] were to accept it, take our energies elsewhere."