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Ongoing Canada Goose Protests 'Torturing' SoHo Neighbors, They Say

By  Danielle Tcholakian and Irene Plagianos | January 30, 2017 2:14pm | Updated on January 30, 2017 4:38pm

 Protesters at the Canada Goose store's opening in November 2016.
Protesters at the Canada Goose store's opening in November 2016.
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PETA

SOHO — Demonstrators outside the new Canada Goose store on Wooster Street to protest the popular outfitter's fur-and-feather coats are "torturing" people who live in the neighborhood, locals say.

PETA protesters have been screaming at people and chasing them down the street since the store opened on Nov. 17 — with the demonstrators' yelling so loudly that it can be heard in residents' apartments, many complained at packed a meeting of the NYPD's 1st Precinct Community Council last week.

"One man told my 6-year-old daughter to go f--k herself," said Mark Roppel, a resident of 101 Wooster St., the same building in which the store is located.

Roppel said the protesters block his building's door "yelling obscenities" every Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

"They're chasing people down the street. People are frightened," said another 101 Wooster St. resident, who declined to give his name.

"It's just gotten gross and bizarre."

 

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Lisa Fromartz, who lives across the street from the store, said she and her neighbors have been "under siege" since it opened Nov. 17.

The 1st Precinct's commanding officer, Deputy Inspector Mark Iocco, said he was aware of the noise complaints, but stressed the "delicate balance" the precinct is trying to maintain in supporting the interests of protesters and the residents.

"We have to protect the right to protest, but also are trying to protect your quality of life," he said.

Iocco said the city's Department of Environmental Protection is supposed to report to the site and take readings with sound meters to measure the noise, but the agency has been slow to respond to residents' complaints.

Iocco has been sending his own officers, who are specifically trained at using sound meters, to the scene to check whether the noise levels are in violation of the city's code.

That information can help build a case against the protesters and eventually take them to court, an NYPD lawyer at the meeting explained.

"We are going down there with sound meters and lawyers to make sure that we are doing everything we can, to track whether or not they are being unreasonable with their sound, while also protecting their right to protest," Iocco said.

A DEP spokeswoman said the agency has worked closely with the 1st Precinct and City Councilwoman Margaret Chin to monitor the protests and ensure compliance with the city's noise code.

So far, two notices of violations for unreasonable noise have been issued against the protest organizers, the spokeswoman added, without saying what the notices entail. .

"We want to protect people's right to protest, even more so with the [current] political climate, but this is beyond freedom of speech," said the 101 Wooster St. resident who asked not to be named.

The resident added that he has "a right... to be on the phone with my mother and not hear obscenities."

The NYPD lawyer encouraged residents at the meeting to videotape the protesters and file complaints against them if they are being harassed. Residents can also hire a lawyer and try to get an injunction against the protesters in civil court, he said.

The store's general manager, Joshua Dufek, who was also at the meeting, said he sympathizes with the residents.

His employees are often followed, harassed and videotaped by the protesters, he notedPETA.

"I respect the protesters' right to disagree, but for me and my team, it's just terrifying," he said. "Employees are being filmed and antagonized."

A PETA spokeswoman said the weekend protesters include "supporters of numerous animal rights groups, not just PETA."

The organization's focus is on the store and not the neighbors — many of whom have been supportive of the protesters' efforts, the spokeswoman added. The store's opponents claim production of Canada Goose jackets involves cruelty against coyotes and geese.

Fromartz said it's true that some neighbors agree with the protesters, but said that the protesters' tactics are excessive.

"In spite of being tortured ourselves by maniacal animal-rights activists, some of us are still not in favor of killing coyotes," Fromartz said. 

"If activists would talk with people instead of assaulting them and us with their noise and harassment, I think they would turn public sentiment back to an anti-fur mentality that once reigned in recent years."