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Protests spur Portland fur dealer's move

Nov. 28, 2006

By Vince Patton, for

After 112 years of doing business in downtown Portland, Schumacher Furs announced it is pulling out of the city's core and may leave the city altogether. The firm also hopes anti-fur protesters will be prosecuted as terrorists under a new law.

KGW photo

A sign that was posted on a window inside the Schumachers store.

Every week for an entire year Schumacher has faced sidewalk protests by animal rights activists. Schumacher has blasted city officials and police for failing to support him in the face of picketers who appear weekly to try to dissuade customers from buying his coats.

"They trespass," says Schumacher of the picketers. "They vandalize our property. We've had bomb scares."

Police counter that they've assigned an officer to every weekly protest and they've made occasional arrests. Police also say Schumacher has rejected their advice and has made relations with protesters worse, not better.

Mayor Tom Potter has offered to mediate.

Schumacher replies, "I don't think it is reasonable to ask me to mediate with a terroristic organization."

"That's offensive," responds Matt Rossell of In Defense of Animals.

Animal advocates say they want to expose how fur animals live and die.

"We're law-abiding citizens," says Rossell. "In this day and age, we know what terrorism is and clearly we are exercising our first amendment rights. The real terror that's being caused here is the terror these animals go through."

Schumacher says the protesters have gone beyond pickets to threaten him and his family. His store has received bomb threats too. "I don't feel safe entering my own store," says Schumacher.

He wants the new "Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act," signed by President Bush on Monday, enforced against the picketers.

It's language is not crystal clear.

One section specifically states it is not intended to prohibit peaceful picketing or boycotts. Yet, in an apparent contradiction, it outlines penalties of a year in prison for offenses that do not instill fear of injury or death and result in no economic damage.

As a result, Laura Ireland Moore, the director of the Animal Law Center at Lewis & Clark College, says she cannot predict how it would be enforced.

"What this bill is certainly doing is putting a chill on the animal advocacy movement because nobody knows exactly where the line is," she said.

Store owner Schumacher says the law gives him hope, if he can get it enforced as he reads it.

"Our clientele wants us to move. They do not feel safe coming to our store or to downtown," he says. "I do not feel safe coming in my own store."

So Schumacher says he will move out by next spring.

Until then, he is discounting every item in his store between now and the move.

Some customers have been told the store may move to Bridgeport Village.

Schumacher would not identify the new spot.


Kristie Phelps

Communications Director

Tel.: 415-388-9641, ext. 240

Fax: 866-464-3098

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