Home Depot Day of Action
by M. Atkinson
Home Depot in north Oklahoma City has already been protested in the form of
passing out leaflets to customers entering the stores. These leaflets contained basic
information. I did not call for a boycott or for any harmful consequence against
Home Depot, I only asked that Home Depot finally adhere to its own promise to
phase out rainforest and old-growth woods. Home Depot promised to do this in
1992; since then they've actually increased instead.
Home Depot's manager made it clear that protests were not welcomed, and
threatened to call police. I refused to leave. The manager and crew of HD followed
me with a trash can to collect leaflets from customers who were not interested, and
employees would occasionally approach me to make fun of my efforts. Most
customers were very supportive and some even stated their admiration. Others
read the fliers and left Home Depot. Many customers, honestly, were completely
uninterested. None were hostile or antagonistic.
After about 3 hours, Oklahoma City police arrived and took me into custody. It was
explained that the decision to press charges for trespassing was up to the manager.
I reminded the manager that if he wanted this story on the news, then pressing
charges was the best way to do it. Customers passing by commented that they were
disturbed by what was happening, speaking up for my Free Speech rights. The
manager, of course, decided to drop any charges in exchange for my agreement to
leave. I made it very clear that I would have to return to do what is right.
DAY OF ACTION
RAN (Rainforest Action Network) is calling for a March 17 Day of Action. I would
like volunteers to participate, although more time might be required to organize so
we might not act on the 17th. We need people who are willing to join in a peaceful
literature distribution protest at any area Home Depot store. Please use the email
link below if you would like to participate.
WHAT ARE THE RISKS?
HD's managers have been inundated with corporate propaganda assuring them that
their company is environmentally responsible. Consequently, most managers do not
believe our criticisms, and are not prepared to answer them. The result is often
anger and fear. There is a good chance of HD management attempting to halt any
protests with calls to police and threats of legal action.
Our rights have been legally protected, however. Even though managers may not
know it, we have a legal right to protest peacefully. Even though stores are private
property, the law recognizes that they are designed to attract and welcome the
public. We have a right to be present.
Additionally, our literature would not encourage any damages against Home Depot,
so there is no financial liability. We are providing information, in accordance with
HD's own stated intention to help customers make informed environmental choices
regarding the products they buy. Our only agenda is to encourage HD to follow its
own promises, not an agenda pressuring them to submit to someone else's demands.
There are risks. Managers may try something, and there is no guarantee that
police will understand our legal right to do what we are doing. We ask that you
consider this as you make a decision to help or not.
Based on past experience, expect to be teased by employees.
WHAT WOULD WE DO?
We would stand as a group at the entrance of HD. As customers enter, we would
approach them with a question, not a statement: "Would you like information about
how Home Depot sells rainforest wood?" or: "Could I give you some facts about
Home Depot's exploitation of endangered forests?" By asking as a question,
nobody can accuse us of harassment: we asked, we didn't impose.
We would answer questions asked by employees and customers.
No date set yet. We will select a date (probably a Saturday afternoon) based on
group consensus and availability.