Continuing their "Action Against Illegal Energy Waste", members of Code Pink returned today to some of the Fifth Avenue stores they had visited July 23rd, once again acting as a part of the international mutual aid movement, "NYC Oil Addicts Anonymous".
This is an excerpt from the text of an email sent out this week by Code Pink:
Two years ago, the New York City Council passed a very reasonable law prohibiting large stores from cranking their air conditioning and leaving their doors open. But they still do it - one retailer was quoted in the New York Times as saying, "It's business; sometimes you got to do what you got to do." As consumers, we have to show these businesses that we're disgusted, not enticed.
Leaving the doors open cranks their electricity use by 25% during peak hours, overloading the power grid, making blackouts more likely, and increasing the oil and nuclear demand in New York. It makes as much sense as leaving gas pumps flowing onto the sidewalk when you're not using them. And as conscious women working for peace and justice we see the direct links between resource wasting, addiction to oil, wars for oil and on and on!
I joined the group on the door-shopping trip up Fifth Avenue which began at noon today, gamely juggling two protest signs, my not-so-lightweight camera, and several sturdy bags I was going to need later at the Union Square Greenmarket.
There was no shortage of targets from the very start, but most of the stores closed their doors very soon after our banner and signs appeared outside, and the chants began. When we got to the Gant Store however we encountered more than a little resistance: Not only did the manager refuse to close the two large doors (through which, incidentally, I could feel the store's cold air as I stood behind the banner about 20 feet across from the opening, its fabric coming down only to my knees), but she called the police, who arrived with remarkable alacrity.
I wasn't a part of the conversation which our excellent guides, Sally Newman and Dana Balicki, had with the two or three officers, but it was clear they wanted us to leave, and they definitely refused to do anything about the open doors. In all fairness to them, the cops may have been aware that our City Council had passed a statute (two years ago) whose enforcement responsibilities were placed in the hands of the understaffed Department of Consumer Affairs.
Eventually they decided we cold remain, as long as we did not obstruct the door or the passage of any pedestrians (in fact, we had not been a threat to either, from the beginning).
Before I decided to go today I thought about the scale of the action. There are so many huge problems, more dramatic and immediate crises than that which provoked the response of which I was to be a part, but I said to myself that this is clearly a no-brainer. We only have to bring the issue to the attention of the merchants. There can't be any rational excuse for leaving doors wide open while you're pumping cooled air produced by polluting and non-renewable fossil fuels through your store, sending even more hot air out the other end of the system.
I was right: It is a no-brainer. Apparently there are just fewer brains out there these days.
- Lewis Dodley, with video, on NY1
- Daniel Tucker, writing on WNYC News Blog
- Jennifer Glickel reporting for DNA info
- Natural Resources Defense Counsel staff blog post by Eric Goldstein
- Rebecca Myles, interviewing Sally Newman Friday evening, on WBAI Evening News (starting 3 minutes into the broadcast)
- Catalina Jaramillo writing in El Diario
- Fuji News Network, covering the issue and the action on Saturday