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Another Portland Blog

Monday, February 26, 2007

 

Dancing on a grave

A scene from Saturday night:

From the second floor of the Smart Park garage on SW 10th it sounded like a belated Mardi Gras party. Woo-hoos, shouting, party favors and laughter. Down at street level I discovered the source: ten or so protesters, some of them dressed up like cheerleaders, celebrating the demise of Schumacher Furs. Last week the owners announced that they were closing up shop for good after failing to find a new location. As I headed down the street they were busy ridiculing someone inside who looked desperate to lock up and get out of there for the night.

Admittedly, the protests made me uneasy from day one but gleefully celebrating the closure of a 112-year old, locally owned, family-run business makes my stomach churn. Am I a proud supporter of the fur industry? Hardly. Do I think that the owners, who made a point of fighting back against the protesters with confrontational signs and taunting, act like petulant toddlers in response? Yeah. But do I recognize their right to run a perfectly legal operation in this city? Yes, yes I do.




So what's next? MADD setting up shop outside of the Doug Fir Lounge in the hopes of driving them out of business? Christian conservatives forming a line at the front door of Mary's Club? Vegans taunting the McMenamins brothers at the Chapel Pub for selling hamburgers? Demonstrators of all kinds coming out the woodwork to stop Powell's from putting controversial books on their shelves?

What was the goal of the protesters that made a weekly habit of hanging around SW Morrison St? To make their voices heard? To express their concerns for the animals that went into making those coats? To encourage the owners to purchase their wares from more humane organizations? Or to bully them out of business completely? Based on what I saw over the weekend, it seems to be the later. I wonder how long that storefront will be empty once the Schumachers are gone.

Every time I feel like I'm getting too liberal for my own good, something like this happens. Portland has a way of making even someone like me feel like an arch conservative. Thanks, PDX!

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