Published on Tuesday, June 25, 2002 by Reuters
Anti-G8 Activists Bare All in Cheeky Protest
CALGARY, Alberta - Anti-globalization activists stripped in front of hundreds of bemused office workers outside a downtown Calgary Gap Inc. store on Tuesday to protest the clothing retailer's labor policies.
It was one of several nonviolent demonstrations in this Canadian oil-industry city ahead of the summit of Group of Eight leaders in the Rocky Mountain resort of Kananaskis, some 90 km (55 miles) away.
One line of activists dropped their pants to reveal the words "boycott Gap," with one letter on each cheek of their posteriors.
"We say that corporate exploitation is indecent -- that's the true pornography -- and worse," said Mary Bull, one of the organizers of the protest that attracted a crush of onlookers and media to Calgary's Stephen Avenue walking mall, a popular lunchtime spot in the summer.
"What were doing is a political action showing how strongly we feel about the issues of sweatshop labor and deforestation."
Gap disputed the claims, saying it has made a policy of dispatching staff and independent inspectors to factories worldwide to make sure owners were living up to safety, environmental and labor standards.
"Last year alone, Gap Inc. inspectors conducted over 16,000 inspections," spokesman Jamie Edgerton said.
Edgerton also said Mendocino Redwood Co., in which Gap's chairman has a stake, had received certification for its logging policies that had the backing of such groups as Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund.
Calgary is the base of thousands of media representatives covering the meeting, as well as activists angry that U.S. President George W. Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and the other G8 leaders will make decisions on major economic and development issues without input from ordinary people.
Residents of the city of 900,000 people have been on edge, fearing violence that marked at other major world meetings, like last year's G8 summit in Genoa, Italy, could erupt here.
But protests have so far been party-like, even with a huge police presence.
Oil industry worker Robert Judd conceded he and his colleague Natalie Evans were drawn to the risque demonstration by the promise of seeing people in the nude.
"I've never really seen a protest before either, so it's something new," Judd said, adding he would likely not boycott the San Francisco-based clothing chain.
Evans sheepishly admitted amid the banging of drums and chanting that the yellow top she was wearing was bought at The Gap.
Calgary is not the only Canadian city where protests are planned. Activists have also converged on the capital of Ottawa, more than half a continent away.
An umbrella group of some 30 protest organizations including self-described anarchists promised on Tuesday to disrupt that city with marches and other protests this week.
The G8, comprising Canada, Italy, Japan, France, Germany, Britain, Russia and the United States, meet officially on Wednesday and Thursday.
Copyright 2002 Reuters Ltd