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Santa Protesters Pepper-Spray Store

December 10, 2000

GOLDEN, Colo. (AP) _ Four people in Santa costumes released pepper spray and spray-painted racks of clothing at a department store Saturday during a protest of working conditions for Nicaraguan garment workers, police said.

Shoppers fled the Kohl’s Department Store and one woman was treated at the scene after inhaling pepper spray.

The four and several protesters outside the store fled before officers arrived, said Golden police spokeswoman Julie Brooks. She said the vandalism caused caused tens of thousands of dollars in damage.

Witnesses said 10 to 15 people had been outside the store chanting slogans about Nicaraguan workers earning 6 cents an hour. A corporate spokeswoman for Kohl’s did not immediately return a phone call Saturday night.

In Pasadena, Calif., another group of protesters picketed a Target store Saturday, also claiming that garments sold there were made under sweatshop conditions in Nicaragua and that the workers there are not paid a living wage.

``We’re asking Target to be responsible corporate leaders,″ said Marissa Nuncio of Sweatshop Watch, an Oakland-based civil rights organization. ``By taking a stand and being a responsible corporation they can encourage other retailers to do the same.″

Officials at Minneapolis-based Target Stores, a division of the Dayton-Hudson Corp., did not return phone messages Saturday seeking comment.

After a similar protest in Milwaukee in August, Target spokeswoman Patty Morris said the company had performed four audits on a Nicaraguan factory and found no evidence of abusive working conditions.

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