Columbia Sportswear Ignites Protest in Portland

Store was closed Saturday as protesters demonstrated against new 'no-sit' signs
By Josh Rosenblatt,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 3, 2017 5:20 PM CST
Updated Dec 4, 2017 5:03 AM CST
Columbia Sportswear Ignites Protests in Portland
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler   (AP Photo/Don Ryan)

The holiday shopping season may be upon us, but on Saturday the Columbia Sportswear flagship store in downtown Portland, Ore., was closed for business. No reason was given—but a demonstration was happening on the sidewalk outside. There, 50 to 75 people gathered to protest new "no-sit" signs put up by the city outside the store. The signs read, "The sidewalk is for pedestrian movement only. Please keep clear," KGW reports. The protesters believe those signs are a way to criminalize loitering downtown, and note they come a few weeks after the Oregonian published an op-ed by Columbia CEO Tim Boyle. He described his employees as having suffered threatening run-ins with panhandlers and numerous car break-ins since the company opened its new Sorel headquarters adjacent to the store, reports the Oregonian.

"We thought it was a good opportunity to be part of this millennial movement of young people setting up shop downtown," Boyle wrote in the Nov. 10 piece. "But at the end of the day, I have to ensure the safety of my employees. ... A few days ago, one of our employees had to run into traffic when a stranger outside our office followed her and threatened to kill her." Boyle said he is considering closing the office and relocating his staff. Protesters point to that op-ed and the $15,000 contribution Boyle made to the campaign of now-Mayor Ted Wheeler. "We think it's disgusting that a CEO that happened to give so much money to Ted Wheeler's campaign can write an op-ed and instantly these signs go up that no one is allowed to sit in front of his business," says Portland's Resistance founder Gregory McKelvey. The store was open on Sunday. (More Portland, Oregon stories.)

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