7-Eleven Bottle Return Protest
As Harrison expected, two nearby cops were called in. To his chagrin, though, they weren't interested in the bottle law-just in the clerk's insistence that he leave the store. Warned he'd be trespassing if he stayed, Harrison left, and the officers went back to parade duty.
In the next twenty-four hours, Harrison pursued justice on three fronts. He visited the police station to protest being thrown out before his complaint was heard. Told that the officers had acted appropriately, he then called the Michigan Department of Treasury, which administers bottle returns. "I talked to Alberto Martin. He was very interested; he said it was illegal [to require a purchase] and wanted to know where this was happening."
And he made a few signs. "I never protested anything in my life," says Harrison, but he began picketing 7-Eleven. "I kept my eyes straight ahead. It wasn't about me; it was about the law. But the store manager called me 'a bum just looking for attention.'" Within hours another three cops visited 7-Eleven. Harrison says that all of them agreed that he was within his rights to picket as long as he "stayed out of the vestibule and didn't interfere with customers." But with an irate store owner on their hands, Harrison says, the officers did suggest he go next door and picket in front of Noodles & Company.
"I don't have a problem with Noodles & Company! So why should I picket them?" Harrison asked indignantly. At the end of the day, he was given a citation for trespassing-though the form isn't completely filled out and there is no fine attached to it.