Fresno GAP Anti-Sweatshop Campaign

Stop Sweatshops! The GAP Campaign ] PEG cable access ] Community Groups ] Organized Labor in Fresno ] This Week In Fresno ] STAND UP FOR FREE SPEECH ] Calendar of Events ] Community Links ] Ad Rates ] Homelessness in Fresno ] Mission Statement ] Media List ] Community Alliance - Publication ]

Local anti-sweatshop actions against THE GAP as chronicled in the Community Alliance Newsletter


From the May 2000 Community Alliance Newsletter:


On March 29 over 100 demonstrators filled the main entrance at the Fresno Fashion Fair mall protesting The Gapís use of sweatshop labor. The Womenís International League for Peace and Freedom and the newly formed United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS) at CSUF were the demonstrations main organizers. This was the biggest demonstration so far at The Gap in Fresno. Medea Benjamin, director of Global Exchange and one of the organizers of the nationwide campaign against The Gap, attended the demonstration and told the crowd how important it is to keep the pressure up...

For the complete article go to:

From the June 2000 Community Alliance Newsletter:


May 6th is a day to remember in Fresno labor rights and free speech history. On that Saturday, seventy peaceful people dared to walk through the Fashion Fair Mall parking lot carrying signs or leaflets, chanting "Hey, hey! Ho, ho! Sweatshop laborís got to go!" Protesters were a coalition of university, labor, and community groups, led by United Students Against Sweatshops, who broke the silence about the Gap corporationís use of sweatshop labor in Saipan, Mexico, Russia, Honduras and other locations. The forces of repression met the protesters. A police helicopter patrolled overhead while more than a hundred private and public security forces, some in riot helmets and some in plain clothes, cooperated to silence, remove, and arrest twenty of the demonstrators who refused to desist from exercising their free speech rights...

For the complete article go to:

From the June 2000 Community Alliance Newsletter:


Why were 20 nonviolent protestors arrested and detained in front of Fashion Fair last month? For handing out fliers and holding signs? This outrageous affront to free speech must not go unchallenged. If we allow Fashion Fair to get away with this attack on our First Amendment rights no group or individual will be safe to express themselves at this mall. Fashion Fair will threaten and arrest anyone who does not conform to their draconian rules. What are those rules? Fashion Fair believes they have the right to:

* Determine time place and manner of any demonstration. They can limit the demonstration to two persons and give them a table in the basement bathroom if they want to.

* Censor all handouts and signs. They will not allow you to say anything about Fashion Fair or their tenants. That means NO mention of The Gap on any handouts or signs. Anyone holding a sign with a stick could be arrested on weapons charges!

* Demand a list of all participants at your event and hold you liable for their actions....

For the complete editorial go to:

From the July/August 2000 Community Alliance Newsletter:


There are few things in this world more shameless than corporate welfare. The typical, all-too-common corporate welfare scheme goes like this: a profitable, gigantic corporation comes into a proud but struggling community and says it will locate operations there if only the city pays for some of the costs of the move. The cash-strapped community, hungry for any sort of jobs, decides to give the company what it wants to lure the jobs to town...

For the complete article go to:

From the September 2000 Community Alliance Newsletter:


The GAP, Inc., the corporate deity that recently granted the prayers of the Mayor and the Chief of Police and chose Fresno to be its distribution hub for the entire Pacific Northwest, has some very serious problems. Some of those problems are financial. The GAP, Inc reported that its July retail sales had dropped from a 2% increase last year to a 1% decrease this year. Worse than that, the GAP's stock prices have plunged 57% from their 52-week high of $53.75. The reason for the GAPís huge financial problems is its even larger ethical problems, namely its complicity in gross violations of human rights and human decency...

For the complete article go to:

From the October 2000 Community Alliance Newsletter:


A private security force hired by Fashion Fair Mall and the Fresno Police Department joined in an effort to break up a pro-labor movement in Fresno this May with tactics reminiscent of scenes from In Dubious Battle or The Grapes of Wrath. About 50 protestors of Gap Corporation (including Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic) sweatshops gathered at Fashion Fair Mall for an informational picket. Arrests of protestors were made without warning or with inadequate warning...

For the complete article go to:

From the November 2000 Community Alliance Newsletter:


The Gap 20, who were arrested on May 6, at Fascist Fair in Fresno are going through court proceedings which are expected to lead to a trial later this year. They were arrested while protesting sweatshop labor practices at The Gap. During the events leading up to a trial, Gap 20 defendants have found out some interesting information: the police have acknowledged use of a confidential informant in the group (AKA a spy); the police and Fashion Fair officials collaborated on the arrests and they appear to have had a list of who to arrest; the defendants who were originally arrested for trespassing have now had those charges dropped and new ones filed - now they are accused of "intimidation" and "disruption" of businesses. The successful defense against these charges has important implications for the FREE SPEECH rights of anyone interested in exercising their Constitutional First Amendment Rights...

For the complete article go to:

From the December 2000 Community Alliance Newsletter:


On November 6 the GAP 20 filed a tort claim against the City of Fresno for the violation of civil rights that occurred when they were arrested for protesting against The GAP's use of sweatshop labor. A tort claim is the first step in filing a civil rights lawsuit which will seek damages and attempt to force the city not to engage in this type of activity in the future.

For the complete article go to:

From the December 2000 Community Alliance Newsletter:


What's going on with the GAP Anti-Sweatshop Campaign? Are we winning or losing? We are both winning and losing!

-We are winning because 18 companies have agreed to settle the Saipan lawsuit. On January 13-14, 1999, three separate lawsuits were filed challenging the unlawful sweatshop conditions in the Saipan, CNMI garment industry. A total of 26 U.S. based retailers and manufacturers have been sued for doing business in Saipan and using "indentured slavery". The 18 companies that have settled the lawsuit have agreed to abide by the new Saipan Code of Conduct which includes prohibiting Saipan-based contractors from violating the law in the future. It also requires factories to be monitored by Verite, a non-profit Massachusetts based independent monitoring firm. In addition, the settlement calls for retroactive relief, payments to garment worker class members whose rights were violated in the past. With the 18 companies, the settlements have totaled almost $8.5 million. This money will be used to pay legal and administrative fees, funding the

monitoring program and to the workers who were cheated out of their pay for so many years. As more money is received from more settling defendants, larger and larger sums will be available for payments to the garment worker plaintiffs.

For the complete article go to:

From the January 2001 Community Alliance Newsletter:


On December 1st, the Gap 20 protesters were back in court over our arrest during the May 6th demonstration at Fashion Fair. The bad news was that the District Attorney re-filed the trespass charge against us. The DA had dropped the trespass charge in favor of the more serious charge of "intimidating merchants and shoppers and interfering with commercial activity." So now we are facing both charges. The good news was that Judge Allan Simpson ordered Larry Donaldson, the Fresno City Police Department's attorney to bring the police department's confidential informant in for a private meeting in the judge's chambers to determine whether the CI's identity would be revealed to the defendants. As it turned out, the CI's identity was revealed the following week, and she is Melinda Guerra, a CSUF Police officer. She told the judge that she had contacted "the leader" of Students Against Sweatshops at Fresno State, and asked to be added to the group's e-mail list. She said she had never attended a meeting of the group. She reported to Sgt. Andy Mercado of the Northeast District Problem Oriented Policing Team. We are wondering what she said that would make him think that it was going to take 100 cops in riot gear and a police helicopter to protect Fashion Fair from a handful of nonviolent demonstrators. We intend to find out...

For the complete article go to:

From the January 2001 Community Alliance Newsletter:

Union of Concerned Santas refused to deliver gifts purchased at Gap, Banana Republic, or Old Navy

When the Fisher family of San Francisco purchased 235,000 acres of cutover redwood forestland in July 1998 and continued to log it, environmentalists launched an international consumer-pressure campaign targeting the family business, Gap, Inc. In January 1999, human rights and labor groups filed a class-action suit against Gap, Inc, and 16 other clothing retailers for labor abuses on the Pacific island of Saipan; since then, the environmental and human rights campaigns have joined forces, staging joint-issue demos at Gap, Banana Republic, and Old Navy stores across the country...

For the complete article go to:

From the February 2001 Community Alliance Newsletter:

Anti-Gap Update

On the first Saturday of every month, the Gapatistas demonstrate against the Gap Inc.'s unfair labor practices in Third World countries, like Saipan, where young girls who have been tricked into involuntary servitude sew its pricey line of clothing. January 6th was no exception, in spite of the fact that Fashion Fair management had rejected our application for access, which was signed by sixteen community groups. The application was turned down because Fashion Fair did not believe that sixteen community groups had actually signed on to the application (in fact, they did!) and because we could not (and would not if we could) give Fashion Fair Security the names of all the people who would come to the demonstration (three weeks before the event!) and because we said that we expected 20 to 30 demonstrators (too many Fashion Fair said) and because our flyer is critical of one of its tenants. (Damned right it is!)...

For the complete article go to:

From the March 2001 Community Alliance Newsletter:


by Bob Fischer

On February 3rd, like every other first Saturday of the month, more than forty people demonstrated on the sidewalk along Shaw Avenue, at the edge of the parking lot on the north side of Fashion Fair Shopping Mall. The demonstrators held signs that protested against the Gap Inc.'s use of sweatshops. They called out to drivers, who honked their horns to show their support. At the same time, inside the mall, three of us had a table provided by the management. The table had our signs attached to its edges.

Our table was on the very spot where only six week previously Santa Claus, himself, had been sitting on his throne, receiving the adoration and shopping lists of small children, and snapping their pictures for a profit. A security surveillance camera peered down on us from inside a white glass globe mounted on one of the pillars that hold up the shopping mall's ceiling. Elfie (that's George Ballis, the Central Valley's great Movement photographer, as if you didn't know already) walked with me over to Security's central console, where I spoke to the head of security by telephone, and then to the mall's manager who exercised her right to decline to be on camera.

For the complete article go to:

From the April 2001 Community Alliance Newsletter:


By Mike Rhodes

The Fashion Fair mall in Fresno was the scene of an exciting anti-sweatshop demonstration on Saturday, March 3. Most of the demonstrators (30-40) demonstrated on Shaw Avenue (in front of the mall). We held signs calling on The Gap to pay a living wage to their workers and asked motorists to honk for justice. There was a constant roar of horns for the entire 2 hours. You could hear the sound from blocks away!

For the complete article go to:

From the May 2001 Community Alliance Newsletter:


by Bob Fischer

In a political act as cowardly and contemptible as burning books, Fashion Fair security officers followed their orders from the Macerich Company in Santa Monica, and took helium-filled balloons out of the hands of several small children in the mall. The offending 14-inch balloons were imprinted with "Stop Gap Sweatshops" and "The Gap can afford to pay a living wage." The security guards made a mother untie a balloon from her stroller and hand it over, while her baby watched and cooed, bedazzled by the balloon's bright color. I watched, appalled, as a uniformed security officer slipped the loop off a small girl's wrist and took her balloon. The little girl just stared at him in wide-eyed, stunned silence. So, I asked the security guard, "Don't you feel ashamed doing that?" And, he said, "Yes I do. I have little girls at home."

From the June 2001 Community Alliance Newsletter:

Here Come Da Judge

The first significant court hearing for The Gap 20, which is MANDATORY for all defendants, will start at 9 AM, Tuesday, June 5. Solidarity is needed and all community supporters are asked to gather at 8 AM in the Fresno County Courthouse basement cafeteria.

For the complete article go to:

From the July 2001 Community Alliance Newsletter:


By Bob Fischer

Let 's get to the point: We are asking all of our friends and co-conspirators, please come and demonstrate with us at 10 A.M. on Saturday, July 7th. Come stand with us at Fashion Fair and help us make it very clear to the powers that be that we cannot be intimidated; we will not become discouraged, and we will not be ignored. Come and help us tell the people of Fresno that nonviolence and persistence pay off, and WE ARE WINNING!

For the complete article go to:

From the August 2001 Community Alliance Newsletter:


By Gabrielle Kirkland

The anti-gap and free speech demonstrations held monthly at Fashion Fair symbolize a meaning that goes beyond standing up for justice.

Each individual who stood on the sidewalk July 7th participated in using their rights and freedoms to stand for what they believe in. When the group stood together it brought change; a change to individuals and the community.

For the complete article go to:

From the September 2001 Community Alliance Newsletter:


by Mike Rhodes

The next demo will be held on September 1 from 12 Noon to 2 PM. Meet at the corner of Shaw and Angus. These monthly demonstrations have been going on for almost two years now.

On May 6,2000, nineteen nonviolent activists were arrested at the Fashion Fair mall by a force of over 100 Fresno City police officers, with a police helicopter hovering overhead and a squad of riot clad officers blocking the mall's entrance. The criminal proceedings are still winding their way through court, with no end in sight. Why has Fresno become a focal point of anti-sweatshop activity and what have we learned from this experience?

For the complete article go to:

From the October 2001 Community Alliance Newsletter:


In early September Fresno judge Kent Hamlin dropped one of two charges against the GAP 19 who were arrested May 6 of last year at Fresno's Fashion Fair for non violently protesting GAP sweatshops. The judge is now considering a DA plea not to drop the second charge. If that charge is not dropped the next court hearing will be October 9, 1:30 pm in Department 31.The dropped charge was trespassing for which the protesters were arrested. The second charge was interfering with business, which the DA added months later.

Subscribe to the Community Alliance!

Stop Sweatshops! The GAP Campaign ] PEG cable access ] Community Groups ] Organized Labor in Fresno ] This Week In Fresno ] STAND UP FOR FREE SPEECH ] Calendar of Events ] Community Links ] Ad Rates ] Homelessness in Fresno ] Mission Statement ] Media List ] Community Alliance - Publication ]