Saturday, December 13, 2008

From Spontaneous Uprising To Planned Protest (America Wakes Up To Predatory Towing)

Photo By John Hoff, "Poor People's March"

Perhaps there have been other planned, coordinated protests against predatory towing incidents prior to one recently announced in somebody posting under the label "napd" on the blog of Sean Cruz, click here.

Yes, possibly. I haven't heard of any sign-waving, slogan-chanting examples, but I admit it's possible there have been a few, most likely on some campus.

But as an activist and a relentless life-long do-gooder, I'm pretty familiar with various social movements and how they evolve. What I'm observing now is an interesting, predictable development in social consciousness and activism around the issue of predatory and abusive towing, as some of the more informed people in the country...

...make the transition from merely waking up to predatory towing to actually doing something about it. Therefore, I see it as the duty of this blog to repeat and amplify the "call to protest" announced on the blog of Sean Cruz.

Here is the call to protest, such as it is, pretty much verbatim...though I eliminated the "all caps" in the body of the original posting:


I'm working on a formal letter to the governor, with cc to the mayor, attorney general, city and state police department regarding Retriever Towing and I need as many signatures as possible.

I'm also in the process of organizing a peaceful march early in January. The plan is to start from their site under I-405 and march to City Hall. (By "their site," the poster apparently means Retriever Towing)

I will provide more info by end of next week with additional info as soon as the letter is ready and plans are better defined.

We need to create awareness not only about the obvious public health and safety issue that this represents but also the economic impact on unaware businesses under contract with them (Retriever Towing, I assume) and how this scares customers away from their premises.

Does anyone know about other property managers canceling their contracts with them, or business owners with similar concerns or dissatisfied with their service? It is clear now how unregulated industries and special interests can drive an entire economy down. We need to take action.

The Spark That Ignited Involvement

Our family car was towed with our nephew's asthma medication and car seats in it. Our family was stranded in the rainy weather for an hour and Mr. Coe (of Retriever Towing) himself denied access to the car before payment was made which I understand is required by law.

(A side note, here. Check out Minnesota's proposal for a "let people get their stuff" law, click here. I'm still trying to find out if it became law or not)

They put us in their known"time out" and made us wait even longer (they used to charge customers for this) The police were called and upon arrival they acknowledged knowing about Retriever Towing having out-of-control predatory towing practices, but said they couldn't do much about it. We still had to pay first despite our plea regarding the urgency of the medication and car seats.

If Retriever Towing can tow a police car in Gresham responding to a 911 call, ignore a request from a police officer in Wilsonville responding to a call by a domestic violence victim, disregard common sense, public safety and many more instances that can be found with a simple Google search (even in the national news) and are frequently in the local news, (then) it is time to do something more than just posting outrage on a website or waiting for the government to get involved.

Citizens In Open Insurrection
A few weeks ago, the Oregonian reported on a woman and an angry mob who set a Retriever truck on fire and who was arrested on a 220k bond. That's just another example that public outrage with this confrontational tow company is leading to more and more violence. Hoepfully, the government will get involved soon.

I'll provide more information later.

What Will Happen In Oregon?

It will be interesting to see whether there really will be a protest march, and what will come of that. I'll certainly try to report on it, and I've forwarded a request for pictures, information if and when it happens.

However, even the mere CALL for a protest march represents a kind of evolutionary development with the social issue of predatory towing.

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