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Randy Leonard position on fur protests - not favorable to free speech rights

This is a post by Randy Leonard. I am not involved with the fur protests, but I find this email disturbing.
Randy Leonard is talking about effective means to stop the protests. In my opinion, neither a city commissioner, nor the police, should be involved in trying to stop legal protests! People have the right to protest and the only comment from the police or the city officials should be that it is legal and that it is their constitutional obligation to protect such rights. Such rights are the basis of freedom in society and far supercede any need to please a downtown business owner.

Instead you have Commander Dave Benson and a City Commissioner offering advice to a business how they can stop people from excercise their Constitutional Rights. I believe people should speak up about this because it is a local example of how our rights on paper are not being protected by our elected officials when we actually try and exercise them.



 http://www.blueoregon.com/2006/03/the_schumacher_.html#c15522199

Below is an email I sent to the Schumachers after investigating their complaint;

From: Leonard, Randy [mailto: rleonard@ci.portland.or.us]
Sent: Sat 3/25/2006 9:31 PM
To: Linda Schumacher
Subject: RE: today

Linda-

I have communicated with Commander Dave Benson regarding your concerns.

I am very concerned about the issues you raised with me and, unfortunately, from the information I have received it appears that some of the problems you are having with protesters are exacerbated by the confrontations representatives of your business, including Mr. Schumacher, have had with the protestors.

According to Commander Benson;

"Schumacher's always gets a little extra attention from the protestors
because he verbally engages them in sometimes a spirited discourse. To
date, no other retailer is getting weekly protests."

In addition, Commander Benson told me that

"I/we met with Mr. Schumacher early on. He came to our weekly problem
solving meeting with his attorney, Greg Oldham and we spent some extra time develop solutions. Laurie Abraham from the DA's office suggested that they seek a civil injunction similar to the one sought by the Lovejoy Surgicenter and awarded by a court. To date, the Schumacher's have not pursued this option."

I am particularly disturbed that you have posted banners inside your store that appear to taunt the protestors outside (please see attached photos).

One poster says


All Protesters Should be!

Beaten
Strangled
Skinned Alive
Anally Electrocuted

Another poster has a picture of a protester with the words

Poster Boy For Birth Control

You certainly have the "right" to display these posters in your windows, but you must know that by doing so you only antagonize the protesters and, as a result, they become as interested as you and Mr. Schumacher are in proving they are "right".

Neither the police bureau nor my office can assist you if you are not
willing to accept our advice on a strategy that helps us help you cause the protestors to lose interest in targeting your business.

Similar businesses to yours that were subject to the same kinds of protests have followed the police bureau's advice and, as a result, the protesters have moved on.

This series of confrontations between your business and the protesters is deeply troubling to me. I am concerned that your actions and then the reactions of the protesters is escalating to a much more serious level.

You and Mr. Schumacher cannot control the rights of protesters that
peacefully gather to protest your business. However, you can control how you react to it.

I recommend that you reconnect with Commander Benson and follow his
experienced recommendations.

I would also urge you to instruct everyone that is associated with your
business to cease engaging the protesters on any level. If the wrong
combination of personalities begin confronting one another a horrible
outcome could be the result. While you may not agree with me now, I can assure you that you will regret not having followed this advice if someone -on either side- ends up being hurt no matter who is "right" or "wrong."

I am attempting to give you my most thoughtful advice. I hope you accept it in the vein I am making it. I truly want you and Mr. Schumacher to be able to conduct your business in as healthy an environment as is possible.

I have copied Jim Redden and Phil Stanford of the Portland Tribune.
Apparently, someone from you business let them know I was discussing this issue with you so, as a courtesy, I am copying them on this email.

Please let me know if I can provide any assistance to you in helping you implement the recommendations I have made to you.

Thank you.

Sincerely,
Commissioner Randy Leonard
From the body: 29.Mar.2006 12:18

nick

From the body of the email:

You and Mr. Schumacher cannot control the rights of protesters that peacefully gather to protest your business. However, you can control how you react to it.

Seems pretty clear to me that Mr. Leonard is not attacking free speech.

"...the protesters to lose interest in targeting your business." 29.Mar.2006 12:21

Fredric L. Rice frice@skeptictank.org

Good grief. A civil injunction won't cause the protesters to lose interest, obviously, and any such injunction would be temporary, lasting only as long as it would take for a Judge to confirm that the reported death of the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights under the Bush regime have been greatly exagerated.

There's a mountain of case law confirming that consumer advocacy which adversely impacts a company's revenues are not actionable -- or actually consumer advocates are not liable for the company's lost revenues and reputation. Obviously companies will sue when faced with extinction, but provided picketers and protesters retain lawful conduct, I can't recall a single court case against consumer advocates -- criminal or civil -- where the company has significantly won.

To retain the peace, there's a mountain of history of police officers imposing restrictions on all parties, and in half of the cases where such restrictions have been imposed, they've been judicically recognized as being legitimate insofar as to keep the peace. (The other have have been judically recognized to have exceeded the police agency's venue.) But I can't recall a single case where consumer advocates have been enjoyned against exercising their Constitutional rights perminantly when those rights have been exercised lawfully.

My opinions only and only my opinions.


You misinterpreted Randy Leonard's letter 29.Mar.2006 13:04

Varro

I believe that Randy Leonard was being diplomatic to the Schumachers, but also calling them on their misbehavior towards the protesters.

Leonard explicitly said that the Schumachers cannot "control the rights of protesters that peacefully gather to protest your business." Sounds like the First Amendment and Article I, Section 8 of the Oregon Constitution to me.

Leonard is telling the Schumachers not to antagonize protesters and make the situation worse, not telling the protesters to leave. Of course, one of the alternatives the Schumachers could take is to leave downtown Portland altogether, as suggested by Central Precinct Commander Dave Benson.

Despite the Schumachers' claims, fur is a dying industry (in more ways than one). The Pizza Schmizza at 5th and Taylor has a copy of the 1940 Portland phone book in it - it lists 25 furriers. The 2006 phone book lists *2* - Schumachers and Nicholas Ungar furs - and both those stores have been around 100 years or more. (Which means that new fur stores DO NOT open up - there's a dwindling market for a luxury item that is viewed by many as a cruel, expensive anachronism.)

. 29.Mar.2006 13:43

.

Calling the Schumacher's on their misbehavior in the context of how to be more effective to get rid of the protests. Leonard is also encouraging an injunction against the protest.

The police should not be assisting a business to stop free speech expression. Neither should a city commissioner.

reply 29.Mar.2006 13:54

Indymedia Reader

Hi Varro,

Leonard says: "Neither the police bureau nor my office can assist you if you are not
willing to accept our advice on a strategy that helps us help you cause the protestors to lose interest in targeting your business. "

Why should a city commissioner or the police by helping to cause protestors to lose interest? That is not a support of free speech rights.

Elected officials, and those with public power like police should not be assisting to stop protests. Arrests and police harrassment 'help' protesters lose interest. No, this is a position by Leonard that discourages and marginalizes free speech rights and he should be called on it!

Also, Laurie Abraham from the DA's office is trying to suppress free speech rights by encouraging Schumacher's to get a civil injunction. These are serious concerns when people in power are actively opposing protest activity!

Reader, you are misinterpreting Leonard and Abraham's statements 29.Mar.2006 14:35

Varro

Leonard is not supporting an injunction against the Schumacher protesters - he is telling the Schumachers not to act like jerks by antagonizing the protesters.

DA Abraham is not assisting the Schumachers in getting an injunction (that would be illegal - the DA acting on behalf of a private party in civil litigation) - she probably told them that there is nothing the DA's office they can do, and to hire a private attorney if there's a civil action.

These public officials are not necessarily on Schumacher's side. Even Commander Dave Benson, the Central Precinct commander, is saying the protesters are not doing anything illegal. From the letter he sent to Randy Leonard: "My own personal contact with the protesters and the contact had by my sergeants is that they are generally very nice people that have very strong views about selling fur."

ir 29.Mar.2006 14:46

IR

I repeat - this is very clear

Leonard says: "Neither the police bureau nor my office can assist you if you are not
willing to accept our advice on a strategy that helps us help you cause the protestors to lose interest in targeting your business. "

Sorry Varro, but you are wrong. Leonard's own statement is very clear. His office and the police are ready to help Schumachers "cause" the protestors to lose interest.

change feature title 29.Mar.2006 16:27

fellow fur protester

why is indymedia leaving this inaccurate title on its feature web site. please keep the letter, but change the title to only "Randy Leonard position on fur protests."

Indymeadia Reader... 29.Mar.2006 16:48

Dan

Randy Leonard said:

"Neither the police bureau nor my office can assist you if you are not willing to accept our advice on a strategy that helps us help you cause the protestors to lose interest in targeting your business."

Your reply to this was:


"Why should a city commissioner or the police by helping to cause protestors to lose interest? That is not a support of free speech rights."


I am in a state of wonderment as to what your logic here is. The City Comissioner is obviously going to assist a local business find a solution to a sitution that is financially hurting it. That is just in the interest of the city. However, he is very clear that the protests are legal and will not be stopped without legal cause. He never says that the protests should not be occuring, and he offers a suggestion to help the business deal with its predicament. The economic wellbeing of local businesses is something that the City Commisioner's office is justifiably concerned with, but I think that you are totally wrong to criticize the surprisingly middle-ground stance that the city has taken.

I stick to my position... 29.Mar.2006 17:19

Varro

...that IR is misinterpreting Randy Leonard's comments to imply that he wants to end the protests.

I believe that both Commissioner Leonard and Commander Benson are doing what they're supposed to be doing: being impartial arbiters and balancers of the public's constitutional rights to protest and the business's right to operate a business free of illegal (truly illegal, not merely rude or injurious to business) activities against it.

Leonard and Benson are not taking sides in this matter, and should not take sides. Leonard is here to govern the city, and his job implicitly includes informing people when the city can't do something like arrest protesters merely because they hurt someone's business.

Benson's job is to keep the peace in the city, and having police arrest or attack people engaged in Constitutionally-protected speech just because a wealthy business owner says it should be done is a dereliction of his duty as a police commander.

another reply 29.Mar.2006 18:40

Indymedia Reader

Okay Varro - You have not responded to this. Are you reading something into it? Cause I am interpreting this literally.

Leonard says: "Neither the police bureau nor my office can assist you if you are not
willing to accept our advice on a strategy that helps us help you cause the protestors to lose interest in targeting your business. "

This is a direct, unequivocal statement that Leonard's office and the police bureau are ready to help them "CAUSE THE PROTESTERS TO LOSE INTEREST".

Police "causing protesters to lose interest" has taken many forms in the past few years. A steady stream of ticky tack violations at critical mass. Pepper spray. Arrests. Harrassment. Assault. And all the while they say they are supporting Free Speech and protecting peoples rights.

Maybe I am overly suspicious with all the police (mis)behavior I have seen over the past few years. I do not think the city should helping create a strategy to cause protesters to lose interest.

Just so we are clear, would you state for me that you think it is appropriate for a City Commissioner and the police to be helping create a strategy to end the protests?

Fellows, let us not 29.Mar.2006 19:44

be hasty

Indyreader, I undertand your literal interpretation of the commissioners' words and I undertand that it does not appeal to you. Ok, I get it. But think about this:

Knowing as he must that any legal action the Schumacher's take will be rejected by the courts, what Leonard is suggesting is a bandaid without stickum- and however he phrases it that's pretty cold comfort for the furriers.

I think he is acting pretty cool at the moment. Unlike officials in other cities across the nation who think nothing of ordering up cracked heads upon demand of the rich, we have found at least one who is either too savvy or too principled to do so. Whatever his motivation this guy is acting like a real public servant, following the rules, so I got one thing to say to you mister!

STROOOOKE the nice City Councilman, do not beat him! He will stay nicer, longer, if you stroke him! Doggone furwarriors know more about animals than people I say!

Sheesh!

by hasty 29.Mar.2006 20:31

fur warrior

you don't know if the person who has been responding is a "fur warrior" or just someone who is interested in progressive causes who didn't like RLs letter.

In Support of Randy Leonard 29.Mar.2006 20:39

Also an Indy Reader

I agree with Varro. I think Leonard is trying to be polite but still let the Schumachers know that they are adding to and creating their own set of problems at the Saturday protests. He stood up to Lars Larson and supported the rights of the protesters.
Indymedia Reader, please give credit where credit is due. Remember, Leonard also has stated he opposses more public funds for the OHSU scam (tram).

Ask Randy himself 30.Mar.2006 00:20

try it, no need to be afraid

Here's his email address. He'll probably answer you.

 rleonard@ci.portland.or.us

reply (again) 30.Mar.2006 00:32

Indymedia Reader

Hi Hasty

My very first statement was I am not involved with the fur protests. I have and continue to be involved in protests and it bothered me that the elected city officials would offer to help create a strategy to deter protesters. I am not trying to be super critical of Commissioner Leonard, however, I do think it is inappropriate to offer to such help, especially given the poor performance of the police in respecting civil rights in this city.

All across the country, the police have become very good at controlling, de-energizing, subverting and marginalizing protesters. All the while mouthing words about protecting free speech. It was just a few weeks ago that the police started trouble at the protest, one officer accusing someone who picked up a straw of doing something to his car, and then police violence and pepper spray and arrests followed.

The protesters have just as much right to be there as Schumachers and the city should not be strategizing with Schumachers on how to get rid of them. That is a form of taking sides and marginalization, and if while more passive (apparently), it is still not a full respect and still presents protesters as something of a problem to be dealt with and not the essential and valuable facet of society that they are.

I appreciate that Commissioner Leonard posted his email publically so that I could critique it. And I am critiquing it because I want to be treated as a full citizen when I am protesting and not feel like the city was in the background thinking of ways to deter me. (which has been the case many a time here in Portland).

Dog Fur 30.Mar.2006 09:05

Dog Lover

I sure hope Shumacher Furs does not have merchandise in its stores that contain imported dog fur. Not only would it be illegal to sell such product in Oregon, it would be extremely immoral.

Randy Leonard's statement of March 30 30.Mar.2006 18:30

This should settle it

This is a part

Commissioner Leonard Statement RE: Schumacher Furs
March 30,2006
I find the recent actions of the Schumacher's very unfortunate, as they only perpetuate the problem with the protesters that they supposedly wanted my help to solve. I have come to the conclusion that they have chosen this path as a method of generating free advertisement for their business, and in fact are not interested in resolving the issue with the protesters.
The details of my involvement in this situation are as follows:
On March 23, 2006 I received an email from Linda Schumacher, owner of Schumacher Furs, asking for my assistance in resolving a situation between her business and protesters who she asserted were harassing their business, employees and customers.
As I consistently do when a citizen contacts me, I looked into it, contacting Commander Dave Benson of the Portland Police Bureau, who Ms. Schumacher listed as part of the problem. Based on her statement to me, I was very concerned and contacted the Police.
What I learned was that the Portland Police Bureau went out of their way to work with the Schumacher's on a solution to the issue, giving them several options which included a civil injunction, as well as suggesting that the Schumacher cease their consistent engagement of the protesters which included posters hung outside their business which stated the following:
All Protesters Should be!
Beaten
Strangled
Skinned Alive
Anally Electrocuted
Another poster had a picture of a protester with the words:
Poster Boy for Birth Control
After my own investigation, I wrote Linda Schumacher a letter on Saturday March 25, 2006, raising my concern that she and her husband chose to engage the protesters in this way, and offered my advice that they stop engaging the protesters in any way because it only fuels the energy of the protesters, and works against any effort the Police could undertake.
The Schumacher's chose not to even respond to my advice regarding ceasing any engagement of the protesters, and declined my invitation to meet with the Police to identify a solution. Instead chose to go to the media and portray themselves as faultless victims in this situation.

for the rest of Leonard's email exchanges with the Schumacher's:
 http://www.portlandonline.com/shared/cfm/image.cfm?id=112099

settle it - is there another way 30.Mar.2006 18:51

against fur

to that site? Or can you post more? I'd really like to read this info, but it's not loading properly for me.

It's a PDF file 30.Mar.2006 21:23

Madam Hatter

It's a PDF file. I've copied the text of the e-mails RL references above:

-----Original Message-----
From: Linda Schumacher [mailto: lschumacher@schumacherfurs.com]
Sent: Saturday, March 25, 2006 11:13 PM
To: Leonard, Randy
Subject: RE: today

We talked to the lovejoy clinic and it cost them over $500,000.00 to get an injunction. We don't have that kind of money otherwise we would do it.


-----Original Message-----
From: Leonard, Randy [mailto: rleonard@ci.portland.or.us]
Sent: Sat 3/25/2006 9:31 PM
To: Linda Schumacher
Subject: RE: today

Linda- I have communicated with Commander Dave Benson regarding your concerns.

I am very concerned about the issues you raised with me and, unfortunately, from the information I have received it appears that some of the problems you are having with protesters are exacerbated by the confrontations representatives of your business, including Mr. Schumacher, have had with the protestors.

According to Commander Benson; "Schumacher's always gets a little extra attention from the protestors because he verbally engages them in sometimes a spirited discourse. To date, no other retailer is getting weekly protests."

In addition, Commander Benson told me that

"I/we met with Mr. Schumacher early on. He came to our weekly problem solving meeting with his attorney, Greg Oldham and we spent some extra time develop solutions. Laurie Abraham from the DA's office suggested that they seek a civil injunction similar to the one sought by the Lovejoy Surgicenter and awarded by a court. To date, the Schumacher's have not pursued this option."

I am particularly disturbed that you have posted banners inside your store that appear to taunt the protestors outside (please see attached photos). One poster says

All Protesters Should be!
Beaten
Strangled
Skinned Alive
Anally Electrocuted

Another poster has a picture of a protester with the words
Poster Boy For Birth Control

You certainly have the "right" to display these posters in your windows, but you must know that by doing so you only antagonize the protesters and, as a result, they become as interested as you and Mr. Schumacher are in proving they are "right".

Neither the police bureau nor my office can assist you if you are not willing to accept our advice on a strategy that helps us help you cause the protestors to lose interest in targeting your business.

Similar businesses to yours that were subject to the same kinds of protests have followed the police bureau's advice and, as a result, the protesters have moved on.

This series of confrontations between your business and the protesters is deeply troubling to me. I am concerned that your actions and then the reactions of the protesters is escalating to a much more serious level.

You and Mr. Schumacher cannot control the rights of protesters that peacefully gather to protest your business. However, you can control how you react to it.

I recommend that you reconnect with Commander Benson and follow his experienced recommendations.

I would also urge you to instruct everyone that is associated with your business to cease engaging the protesters on any level. If the wrong combination of personalities begin confronting one another a horrible outcome could be the result. While you may not agree with me now, I can assure you that you will regret not having followed this advice if someone -on either side- ends up being hurt no matter who is "right" or "wrong."

I am attempting to give you my most thoughtful advice. I hope you accept it in the vein I am making it. I truly want you and Mr. Schumacher to be able to conduct your business in as healthy an environment as is possible.

I have copied Jim Redden and Phil Stanford of the Portland Tribune. Apparently, someone from you business let them know I was discussing this issue with you so, as a courtesy, I am copying them on this email.

Please let me know if I can provide any assistance to you in helping you implement the recommendations I have made to you.

Thank you.

Sincerely,
Commissioner Randy Leonard


-----Original Message-----
From: Linda Schumacher
To:  rleonard@ci.portland.or.us
Sent: 3/25/2006 7:03 PM
Subject: today

Briefly, The police officer today refused to enforce a stalking order that a judge had issued. He went out and talked to the person and left. What is going on. I have the law printed up in regards to stalking orders and the police are suppose to arrest the person. We are very frustrated. The same person was in front of our store earlier in the week and our employee called again. They never showed. When we called later we were told they guess it slipped through the cracks.

Linda Schumacher


-----Original Message-----
From: Linda Schumacher
To:  rleonard@ci.portland.or.us
Sent: 3/23/2006 3:20 PM
Subject: laws being broken

We have been heavily protested since Nov. We have on film, red paint being thrown on our property. Our building being written on .ALF written
[missing text between pages 4-5 on original PDF]
on our building. Consistent trespassing. Our employee being assaulted. He got a stalking order and when we called the police that that person was here, they never responded. I have talked in lengths with the manager at Nordstroms and when their property was chalked, the police responded and that person was arrested. Why don't we get the same treatment? They are allowed to block our entry. We have everything documented. Our security officer has talked to the police on numerous occasions and we can't get the law enforced. Why not. I could go on in regards to this. We have been told it is legal for them to follow us and tell us they are going to kill us and burn our house down. We pay our taxes and just want to run our business. The protestors are not going away but at least the law can be enforced. Commandor Benson says he supports the protestors!

Thanks for your time.
Linda Schumacher