Landmark Protests of Barkworks Inside a Shopping Mall On 12/19, the busiest shopping day of the year, CAPS held a landmark peaceful protest with 72 participants inside Westside Pavilion Mall in Los Angeles against one of seven Barkworks stores. This pet shop chain obtains puppies from mills, including some with serious USDA violations. The protest was a landmark demonstration for the California animal protection movement because pet shops that sell puppy mill dogs inside shopping malls, had been immune to the increasing public outcry over the puppy mill issue. After researching California Supreme Court cases, we realized that the California Constitution, which is more expansive than the federal version, protected our rights to protest inside a mall – a de facto public forum under California case law. Moreover, California case law protects the rights of protesters to call for a boycott of a specific business within a shopping center or mall.
CAPS’ documentary about Barkworks and a customer who purchased a very sick puppy that died on 12/24, one week after purchase, was one of the most shared videos on CNN iReport. Following the release of this documentary, CAPS held a second protest on 2/13 with 89 participants inside the mall in honor of Valentine’s Day, a loveless day at Barkworks. The third protest on 4/13 had more than 100 participants, including 70 inner city public high school students. In lieu of signs, CAPS protesters wore tee shirts and carried large shopping bags – all with slogans or messages. CAPS worked closely with the LAPD, and all three times, officers provided protection of our First Amendment Rights in light of the mall’s threats to have security guards arrest the protesters.