"Mitsubishi and L.A. Auto Show management must think they're the fashion police"
LOS ANGELES -- Activists from Rainforest Action Network (RAN) were forcibly
evicted from the Los Angeles Auto Show earlier this month for wearing t-shirts with the
message, "Boycott Mitsubishi -- Mitsubishi Destroys Rainforests."
Security guards hired by the Auto Show forced the activists from the showroom. The guards, when asked why they were throwing out the activists, confirmed that it was because of the message on the shirts. Later t-shirt-clad activists were denied entry at the door.
RAN has protested the eviction and subsequent barring from the Auto Show as a violation of the freedom of speech as well as California's Unruh Civil Rights Act, which specifically prohibits the arbitrary exclusion of customers based on their clothing or political messages. The RAN activists paid for individual entry to the Auto Show, and tickets to the event were sold to the general public.
RAN says its goal was to inform prospective car buyers about Mitsubishi Corporation's (MC) environmental record, including destruction of the world's rainforests. The group also wants Mitsubishi Motors to pressure the corporation to stop destructive logging practices. RAN has encountered trouble during previous Mitsubishi protests, including the arrest of two members after a dramatic protest in November, where activists hung banners from the top of a San Francisco skyscraper.
The group says that MC is a transnational company that fully or partially owns, or does business with, logging operations throughout the world. MC's activities lay waste to vast areas of forest, displace the indigenous peoples who live there, and destroy the habitat of plant and animal species worldwide, they claim. In British Columbia's temperate rainforest, RAN says, a Mitsubishi-owned factory wastes 85 percent of the wood it cuts because it is not white enough to make disposable chopsticks.
"Mitsubishi and L.A. Auto Show management must think they're the fashion police," said activist Lucy Braham. "I can't believe they threw us out just because they didn't like the message on our t-shirts. What are they trying to hide? It's public knowledge that Mitsubishi Corporation is one of the world's worst rainforest destroyers. Clearly, our first amendment rights have been violated. We were denied freedom of expression. What's more, I look good in that shirt."
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