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.