They've targeted Snooze and the Palm, and now an Occupy Denver-supported coalition of protestors is going after the Tattered Cover Book Store because of the store's position on Denver's controversial ban on urban camping -- or, rather, because of the Tattered Cover's lack of a position on the subject. Last Friday, the group, which includes the Boycott the Urban Camping Ban Coalition, descended on the Tattered Cover's LoDo store with signs and bullhorns, as they did with Snooze and the Palm for several weeks in 2013; both restaurants eventually reversed their pro-ban positions in response to the actions. (The Palm, an upscale steakhouse near the 16th Street Mall, had been such a strong proponent of the ban, in fact, that a sales manager testified in favor of it before Denver City Council in April 2012.)
"Tattered Cover Book Store has to make a choice. Tattered Cover has stated that they will not take a stand on 'political issues' and therefore will not take a stand against the current law criminalizing acts of survival while homeless. However, the Tattered Cover has already taken a stand on this issue in favor of the Ban," reads an online statement from the Boycott the Urban Camping Ban Coalition.
"They paid and continue to pay membership dues to the Downtown Denver Partnership, which fees were used to lobby for the Ban.... If the Tattered Cover were truly politically neutral, they would not contribute financial support to organizations whose purpose is to effect political change and create laws like the Ban."
Store owner Joyce Meskis says the Tattered Cover has avoided taking stands on political issues for forty years.
"We feel that this is very important for a general bookstore like ours that has maintained in its inventory a vast diversity of materials and welcomes in its stores all kinds of people," she explains. "We want to have a nonjudgmental standard.... People should make their own decisions and not be inhibited in any way by any official store position."
Meskis says she talked with the protestors about this for 45 minutes last Friday, but to no avail, and that she expects them to return. "We are trying to be mindful of the fact that they have a First Amendment right to gather and express their opinions, even though we think they are misguided."
And while Tattered Cover is indeed a member of the DDP, it is also a member of the ACLU, Meskis points out, which took a stand against the urban camping ban.
More from our Occupy Denver archive: "The Palm rescinds its support of Denver's urban camping ordinance."