Seventeen animal rights activists were arrested Sunday on felony charges at one of Los Angeles' flossiest malls as they chained themselves together to protest the sale of animal furs, police said.
The protesters, many of them Southern Californians aligned with the Memphis, Tenn.-based Coalition to Abolish the Fur Trade, were arrested about 12:15 p.m. Sunday after about 90 minutes spent chained together at the Bullock's store at the upscale and decidedly trendy Beverly Center.
Sunday's demonstration--at the height of the holiday shopping frenzy--was designed to "affect their business and affect the most shoppers," one of the protesters, Gina Lynn, 23, a Cypress waitress, said Sunday night in a phone call from jail.
Police made the arrests without incident and no injuries were reported. All 17 people were booked on suspicion of felony burglary and conspiracy to commit trespass, said Los Angeles police department spokesman Officer Don Cox.
Bail was set at $15,000 for each of the protesters, he added.
Officials at Bullock's declined to comment. Beverly Center security officials could not be reached for comment. Both Bullock's and Macy's are owned by Federated Department Stores, one of the nation's leading retailers.
A protest July 23 by the same group at Bullock's at Fashion Island in Newport Beach led to six arrests. Twenty more protesters were arrested Oct. 23 after clashing with security guards and chaining themselves to furniture at Macy's executive offices in San Francisco.
On Sunday at about 10:45 a.m., a dozen protesters chained themselves together with bicycle-style locks in front of the main entrance to Bullock's Beverly Center store, blocking that entrance and chanting, "Fur is dead! Boycott Bullock's! Bullock's tortures animals!"
Another four went up one floor and locked themselves to an escalator near another Bullock's entrance, said Cres Vellucci, 47, of Sacramento, whose wife, Sheila Laracy, 48, was another of the protesters.
The demonstration ended about 90 minutes later with the arrests of nine women and eight men. Security officers who arrived within moments of the start of the protest began cutting the locks with bolt cutters, Vellucci said, and turned the freed protesters over to Los Angeles police.
Behind bars, the protesters promptly began a hunger strike--apparently a political statement and a comment on the bologna sandwiches and other jail fare that the vegetarians in the group would find objectionable.
Jailers "knew we were on a hunger strike and didn't even offer [dinner] to us," Lynn said, adding, "Of course, we're all vegan and we probably wouldn't eat what they would offer us, anyway."