Rules in Favor of Boycotts as Protected Protest
By Sarah Jaffe, AlterNet, February 27, 2012
Last week, we ran a story from Phan Nguyen at Mondoweiss, about the lawsuit filed against the Olympia Food Co-Op in Olympia, Washington, for joining with the international Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement against Israel and voting to stop selling Israeli-made goods.
Now, a judge has ruled that the co-op is within its rights to boycott the products and that boycotts are protected free speech, tossing out the lawsuit. The Center for Constitutional Rights, who helped represent the co-op, reports:
On Thursday, the courtroom was filled with interested observers, and boycott supporters held a rally outside the courthouse. Today, the courtroom was filled to overflowing and many co-op supporters spilled into the hallway.
“We’re thrilled that the court saw fit to protect the board’s right to free speech. This decision affirms the right to engage in peaceful boycotts without fear of being dragged through expensive litigation,” said Bruce E.H. Johnson of Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, who drafted Washington State’s Anti-SLAPP law.
The co-op has a history of social justice activism, and the attorneys for the co-op contend that the suit was filed solely to deter political expression. The judge’s dismissal of the suit finds them in the right, and allows them to continue with the boycott.