I had a good time this past Saturday doing a one-santa-action at the new Rapid Cash payday loan and check cashing store at 39th and Powell, former site of Dunkin Donuts. Most Saturdays and Sundays a very obnoxious fuzzy Kangaroo mascot and sign waver ("Payday Loans here!") are posted in front of the store -- that public humiliation/exploitation/advertising annoyance combined with predatory, unjust business practices and a santa suit gathering dust caused me to take action.
Santa's arrival caused the Kangaroo and sign waver to scurry inside to talk to their managers who promptly had them lie low -- I found out later that no pay was docked from them. Support from drivers was fantastic -- nearly every other car gave me a thumbs up, laughing and honking their horn...based upon this reaction, I'd say there's very strong community support for more fair and just alternatives -- in 2005, Santa will target banks, savings and loans and credit card companies....meanwhile, please call Commissioner Randy Leonard's chief of staff Ty Kovatch (503.823.3003)to tell him that you support his work to regulate / eliminate these horrible businesses that dot Powell Boulevard.
The management of the store was not too pleased with Santa. Johnny Law was summonsed, however he was unable to bust Santa as no laws were being broken. It must be noted that Santa refused to give his name or phone number because no laws were being broken and the FBI and Portland Police have a long documented history of spying on and maintaining files of activists that have broken no laws.
Within two hours the manager came out with an offer to buy Santa off. Santa refused to sign a contract promising to never come back, but did accept a crisp $100 bill to go away, and did go away, taking his sleigh to 121st and Powell, site of another Rapid Cash store....
Upon arrival, management immediately came running out the door "we just want to tell you two things Santa: We have called the police department and they are on their way. Also, you already made $100 -- we're NOT GOING TO PAY YOU ANYTHING ELSE TODAY!" . . . after chatting with the cops and confirming the legality of the protest once again I decided to call it a day however I was sure to let them know that they had not seen the last of me.
Anyone interested in helping me out with this protest? You could borrow the santa suit and sign, do your own personal random protest, or call "Rapid Cash" (503-239-5225) to voice your opposition to their newest location...
Below are some links to information about Randy Leonard's work and the state of "payday loans" in Oregon, and an interesting paper someone wrote on the subject.....