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Friday October 31, 2014
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7-Eleven Bottle Return Protest

 

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David Harrison deliberately chose noon on the Fourth of July to test the bottle return law at 7-Eleven on State Street-not so much because he was feeling a surge of civic empowerment, but because he knew that while the parade was passing by, there would be a lot of cops out. "I knew I was right," he says. "I had a copy of the law in my backpack." If a dispute arose, he reasoned, law enforcement would be within easy reach.

According to Harrison, State Street convenience stores have adopted policies that discourage bottle returns. 7-Eleven's policy is to require a purchase. Neither CVS nor 7-Eleven would comment, but the underlying issue is that the stores discourage bottle returns to keep out vagrants and panhandlers that vex all the merchants in the area.

Harrison, fifty-eight, is neither a vagrant nor a panhandler. He grew up in Ann Arbor, lives near State Street, and is an air force veteran-which is "kind of funny," he says, since "I hate guns and I hate planes."

Harrison says that when he presented the 7-Eleven clerk with twelve empties, she refused to redeem them unless he bought something. At that point, Harrison pulled out his copy of the 1976 Michigan Beverage Container Deposit Law. Eventually, he says, the clerk did offer him $1.20 for his twelve cans-but he wanted more: an assurance that the store policy had been changed.

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