Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Students Strip, Chant to Protest Gap Policies

About 100 people gathered to protest the policies of Gap, Inc., Friday afternoon at the retailer’s Wisconsin Avenue store, while at least an equal number of police, members of the media and spectators observed.

The mostly college-aged protesters lined both sides of Wisconsin Avenue in front the Gap and Gap Kids stores, holding signs, mingling with each other and chanting.

Protesters, some of whom wore black bandanas across their faces, cited the Gap’s labor and environmental practices as the reasons for their display. “I’m here at the Gap because I don’t agree with how they make their clothes, their wages, their working conditions, basic human rights,” a college student from Ohio, who wished to remain anonymous, said.

The young man, who held a sign resembling the Gap’s ubiquitous navy blue logo but instead read “C-R-A-P,” heard about the protest via the Internet and fliers. He said he had come from a march in downtown Washington, D.C., where other protests and demonstrations were being held in conjunction with the weekend’s International Monetary Fund and World Bank talks.

“The Gap can label their clothes `Made in the USA,’ but they do not follow U.S. labor laws,” University of Wisconsin-Madison student Tony Schultz said, noting that the corporation produces much of its clothing on the U.S. territory of Saipan in the South Pacific.

“Gap has sweatshop labor, [which] is unacceptable, and is representative of the worst of American capitalism.” Case Western Reserve University student Marcella Smid said. Smid and two friends stripped to their undergarments on a large piece of a redwood tree chanting, “I’d rather wear nothing than wear Gap.” The redwood tree section was removed shortly after their personal demonstration began and was intended to draw attention to the practices of logging companies in California owned by the Fisher family, which also owns a considerable portion of Gap, Inc.

A flier dispensed to protesters read, “The Gap family is clear cutting redwood forests, using toxic herbicides and logging the last old growth trees, and is exploiting desperately poor people to make Gap clothes.”

Smid and eight friends had driven to Washington from Ohio and were part of Catalyst, an organization that focuses on social justice issues.

The protest began at 2 p.m. and lasted an hour. About two dozen police officers in riot gear stood guard along Wisconsin Avenue, while other officers directed traffic and pedestrians. Capt. ichael Jacobs of the Metropolitan Police Department said there were “a sufficient number [of officers] to handle the situation.”

Jacobs said the threat of violence was minimal and that the riot gear was a precaution. “I wasn’t really concerned it would become violent, but it’s always a possibility,” he said. There was no property damage and the police made no arrests. Protesters even negotiated with the police – activists agreed to end the demonstration in 20 minutes if the police would move an overhead helicopter that hindered observers from hearing the event’s speakers

– Eric Fung contributed to this report.

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