Keene Police Harass Striking Workers; Leave Girl Scouts

On April 3, the Keene police ordered protesters to leave the parking lot of a Shaw's supermarket in Keene under threat of arrest, but allowed Girl Scouts to keep selling cookies in the same parking lot. A spokesman for the UFCW union said his union and/or the ACLU might sue the city of Keene for violating the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Before the police arrived, the protesters had about an hour to persuade shoppers to go elsewhere for their groceries. They appeared to be successful, with many shoppers saying they would go to the nearby Hannaford supermarket to show their support for the striking Shaw's workers.

The rally was organized by the Vermont chapter of Jobs With Justice

To enlarge the photos, please click on them, then scroll down and click "See full-size image."

photos by Eesha Williams

The Shaw's store manager is standing behind the policeman in the first photo.

This article and photos first appeared at



What protected rights?

I don't see why you're complaining about this?

It's private property. The property owner or company that leases the property has the right to decide who can stand out on the sidewalk selling cookies, raffle tickets, etc. I've done it before with my kids and you have to get permissions.

So, if the company (Shaw's in the case) doesn't want the picket line at the door they can ask you to move elsewhere.

I know I will hear the argument that it's a constitutional right or free speech or right to assembly. Yes, you can still make yourself heard but if you were protesting from my front steps you can bet I would call the police and have you relocated to a less disruptive location.

The gray area of private property

As my understanding the term private property is very gray. This is a shopping plaza open to the public and doesn't have any posted private property signs there fore it's harder to enforce that it is private. The other problem here is that again this is a shopping plaza they're are a lot of stores in that lot. Does Shaws own the whole lot or are they leasing the space. If they are leasing then Shaws has no control outside the physical store and can not order people to leave the grounds.

Thank you for your comment.

Thank you for your comment.

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Re. the substance of your comment: the UFCW spokesman at the event in Keene, Jonathan Landsman, said there had been a recent federal court decision saying that if a company is going to ask police to arrest people for trespassing on its property while they are engaged in "concerted activity" (such as selling cookies or holding picket signs) the police cannot discriminate between groups. So Wal-Mart must allow union organizers to stand outside its stores if it allows Salvation Army Santa Claus bell-ringer fundraisers to do so.

Eesha Williams
Brattleboro, Vermont

Police and strikers

The photograph of the store manager standing behind the policeman tells us whose rights are and aren't protected.

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