Schumachers Present Rambling Diatribe Before City Council Today
This morning, Linda and Greg Schumacher, along with their security guard, their accountant, and a friend from Zell Brothers jewelry store (located across the street from Schumachers) all railed against what Greg called "domestic terrorists." To bolster their case, they brought along a sheaf of email correspondence and copies of various Oregon Revised Statutes, which they claim show that the city needs to start arresting people for demonstrating in front of their fur store.
I knew I was going to have difficulty containing my own feelings of revulsion as soon as they walked into the council chambers. Linda came in a horrific brown jacket with some kind of dead animal pinned in place at the collar and wrists. Greg wore his usual expression of snide bafflement. They were accompanied by the tall security guard who likes to shake pepper spray cannisters, the pale, pudgy little white guy with the glasses (apparently, his name is Nick Krahmer and he's their accountant), and a vapid young woman draped in a black fur coat that resembled nothing so much as the earthly remains of a dozen or more house cats. Linda and the other woman draped their blood-soaked garments across the backs of their chairs and left them there, which seemed like an unnecessarily crass thing to do in my opinion.
Actually, to be honest, it made me want to cry to see those two shallow, vain people exhibiting their (waning) wealth in this unthinking way. You see, I have recently adopted a couple of so-called "fur-bearing" animals whom I love very much, and I have gotten to know them as loving, complex beings capable of the same feelings that you or I have. I was haunted by the knowledge that others of their kind suffered and died for those hideous coats. The animals that are killed to make such garments are thinking, feeling beings who do not owe the Schumachers a living any more than the city of Portland owes them any kind of subsidized security to protect them from the opinions of those who find what they do for a living to be immoral. But, I digress.
My hands shook in an effort to contain my anger toward these frivolous, empty, selfish people. The younger woman shuffled about the room on her strappy little stilts, handing out thick packets of literature which Linda shoveled out of a large box and gave to her by the armful. Apparently, they hoped that these documents would make it clear to the city council that their interests should take precident over the First Amendment rights of the people who protest what they do for a living. The packet opens with a short email message to Nick Krahmer from the address KapGrp@aol.com, which appears to be from a representative of the Fur Information Council of America. The message states, in part, that the Fur Information Council of America "respect[s] the rights of every individual to choose what to wear, what to eat, where to shop." It goes on to describe people who disagree with the fur industry as "domestic terrorists," and says that these people "commonly engage in anarchistic [sic] activities" (shudder!).
The next item in their packet of "evidence" is an email message from Edward Atiyeh of Atiyeh Brothers carpets (email: firstname.lastname@example.org, telephone: 503-292-1545, address: 7595 SW Broadmoor Terrace, Portland 97225). The letter appears to be a co-miseration with the Schumachers over the unwillingness of city officials to deal with the undesireables who plague those who try to make a living peddaling luxury items to the wealthy downtown. After making reference to the city as "the city that doesn't work," Mr. Atiyeh compared the presence of anti-fur protesters outside Schumacher's to the "transients and homeless people sleeping in our doorway and urinating on our outside walls." He went on to complain that he and his family had to move their business out of downtown Portland due to this rabble, and that "no city official has ever made an effort to thank us or encourage our being a vital part of the downtown community." (Perhaps those officials didn't recognize that selling expensive rugs made by the thin, bony fingers of small children in the third world to upper crust elites in Portland is much of a contribution to this community. I'm sure we would have missed them greatly, had we even noticed that they'd left.) Ominously, the message concludes, "Some day I hope the city commission will have some business people serving on the council instead of the commissioners we now have with no business or management experience but are just politically oriented." (Imagine. People going into city government out of an interest in politics, rather than an interest in money.)
There was also an anonymous email (with the address and name conveniently blacked out) from someone purporting to be a customer of the Schumacher's. The general drift of this message appears to be that a family from out of town saw "a pink coat" in the Schumacher's window, and wanted to buy it for their 3 year old daughter, who is presumably too young to understand that the soft pink fur is actually the skin of dead animals. They were appalled to have people approach them, showing "bloody posters of animals" to their children. (Better to be responsible for the blood and suffering, I suppose, than to be forced to look at it.)
The packet concludes with a list of statutes which the Schumachers believe have been violated by protesters, and a second email from the Fur Information Council -- crib notes coaching the Schumachers for today's city council meeting which so grossly distorts reality that I will treat it separately later, when I can actually digest so much nonsense. Stay tuned for that, another day.
In any event, the Schumachers took all five slots so that no one from the other side of this issue was allowed to speak to the commission this morning. Nevertheless, it does not appear that they found much sympathy among the commissioners in this town of people who love animals. Randy Leonard, in particular, seemed to feel blindsided by the Schumachers' disingenuousness in playing the corporate media, and Mayor Potter sternly refused to take sides. (Interestingly, Jim Hyde of KPTV sat with the Schumachers throughout the proceedings. Those who frequent Videos from the resistance will remember him as the corporate stooge who blathers on about anarchists and bombs in "Fuck the Corporate Media." Those who haven't seen it can download it here for free: http://portland.indymedia.org/en/static/pdxvideo.shtml. Remember also that KPTV recently took part in some cheap publicity for the Schumachers, when they gave away a coat as part of an on the air contest. But, back to the story at hand.)
Linda's voice rose and creaked precipitously as she enumerated the sins of those who would tell people the truth about her furs. At one point, she rose from her seat in a garish crescendo, waving a large poster of a naked bottom over her head, claiming it was that of a protester. (Probably. It was in much better shape than any of the soft, doughy buttocks over on the fur side of the room. Again, though, I digress.)
She was unceremoniously cut off by Mayor Potter, who admonished her to put the sign down, since he had already told protesters that they could not hold up their signs. (Several people had used sharpies to write pointed messages on the backs of the packets that the Schumachers had passed out earlier.) When Linda's rambling three minutes were at an end, he cut her off again. On a brigher note, Linda did reveal that the protests are having quite an effect on her outlook. Said she, "I won't even leave the store because they're on me in a second." Indeed. Linda also made what appeared to be a reference to Portland Indymedia as "their website," when she stated, "They also put on their website 'Let's give the Schumacher's the death of a thousand cuts.'" While I am not certain that this is a reference to pdx indy, since I never saw this comment here, I flatter myself to believe it might be.
Greg flailed about in his testimony, making reference to a stalking order that he feels is not being properly enforced by officers, and noting for the hundred millionth time that Schumacher's has been in business for 111 years. 111 years. That's 111 years. Mr. Krahmer and a security guard from the store both then spoke vaguely about harassment, and someone named George, whose last name I did not catch, spoke about his view of things from Zell Bros across the street. He said that, from his perspective, the protests "have grown volatile" and then stated, "When you see the number of people standing out front [of Schumacher's], I sure wouldn't wanna walk in there." (That is, after all, the point. Isn't it?) He then went on to explain that, hey, "I'm as liberal as the day is long, but...." No kidding.
In the end, as I said, it did not appear that the Schumacher's had made a very strong case, in spite of their having taken every available spot to speak. Linda's stridently disrespectful tone toward commissioners did not seem to endear her to them any more than her bloody coat endeared her to anyone in the audience. Randy Leonard expressed relief that Mayor Potter is back in town so that this potato is in his garden now, and for his part, the mayor tiptoed delicately between competing interests. If one can reliably read facial expressions, though, I'll bet the mayor is an animal lover. Either way, it would not hurt for people who care to call or write to the commissioners to let them know where you stand on this.
They can be contacted here:
Tom Potter, Mayor
Commissioner of Finance and Administration
1221 SW 4th Ave, Room 340, 97204
Commissioner of Public Utilities
Position Number 1
1221 SW 4th Ave, Room 220, 97204
Commissioner of Public Safety
Position Number 4
1221 SW 4th Ave, Room 210, 97204
Commissioner of Public Affairs
Position Number 3
1221 SW 4th Ave, Room 230, 97204
Commissioner of Public Works
Position Number 2
1221 SW 4th Ave, Room 240, 97204
add a comment on this article
add a comment on this article
discussion from this article