Monday, December 06, 2004

Shopping protesters arrested for 'nothing'

By TERRI SANGINITI / The News Journal


For the past four years on Black Friday, three Newark sisters have been trekking to the Christiana Mall to celebrate a global anticonsumerism movement called "Buy Nothing Day."

This year, they got arrested after police asked the women to leave.

Anna White, 30, said she and her sisters Laura, 28, and Rachel, 25, and their friend Terri Carter went to the mall about 11:30 a.m. Friday on their annual junket to not shop.

They were dressed in Santa hats and white T-shirts printed with the words "NOTHING - What you've been looking for." The back of the shirts read: "Ask me about NOTHING."

Buy Nothing Day began 13 years ago a way for people to engage in symbolic protest against the "frantic consumer binge" by refusing to shop for 24 hours, according to Adbusters Media Foundation, a Vancouver, British Columbia-based organization that sponsors the event.

The foundation is "a global network of artists, activists, writers, pranksters, students, educators and entrepreneurs who want to advance the new social activist movement of the information age," according to the group's Web site.

White said she doesn't work for Adbusters.

"I like doing quirky things like this," she said. "It seemed like a fun way to get people to think about alternative ideas."

The activists had fliers to hand out. But White said they would only do so if someone came up to them to ask what NOTHING is all about.

"We didn't want to violate the mall's soliciting rules," White said.

But one of the women was armed with a video camera, which violates mall policy.

A security guard told the women they would have to leave because they were, in effect, soliciting - a reaction.

White said she and her sisters then left the mall through the Lord & Taylor exit and headed to their car parked near J.C. Penney.

Outside, a state trooper told them that they were on private property and would have to leave.

En route to their car, White said they were surrounded by four or five state troopers who took them into custody and charged them with criminal trespassing, a misdemeanor.

"They handcuffed us and took us to the [state police] satellite office," White said. "I guess they thought if we let three people dress up in Santa Claus hats, then what's next."

But state police spokesman Lt. Joseph Aviola's version of the story differed.

"These people were in the mall and were observed talking to patrons and also had a camera in their possession," Aviola said. "They were asked by management to leave the mall and they refused twice. They were told if they didn't leave that they would be arrested."

Aviola said a trooper walked the women to their vehicle.

White said that never happened. She maintains that they were walking to their car when troopers arrested them.

"We don't understand because we were following directions to leave," she said. "I don't know how you can get to your car if you can't walk to it through the mall parking lot."

Aviola said mall security told police 20 minutes after the women were told to leave that they were still milling around in the parking lot. He said they were congregating around cars "with a tripod set up with a cord running from it and appeared to be videotaping in the parking lot."

White denied that.

"They showed up last year and were told not to come back, and they came back this year," Aviola said. "It's private property, and they were told if they don't abide by the rules they would be arrested."

Now, it's up to a magistrate to decide their fate Jan. 15. If convicted, the women could be fined $25 plus court costs.

"I definitely am up for it again next year, but I don't want to get arrested," White said. "That was not our intention this year, either."


Source: Delaware Online

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