Businesses affected by protest on Town Square
By Emma Breysse, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
May 18, 2012
Faced with trucks blocking anti-abortion signs and potential they would incite conflict, the Jackson Police Department closed three parking spaces on the west side of the Town Square on Thursday.
Residents had parked cattle and box trucks across from the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar, partly blocking anti-abortion banners showing aborted fetuses. It was the second day of Operation Save America’s anti-abortion protests in Jackson.
A statement by Teton County spokeswoman Charlotte Reynolds a few hours later notified residents that those three parking spots would be off-limits to “reduce potential conflicts” until Operation Save America leaves Jackson.
Along with officials having to deal with protesters and the reactions they are drawing, business on the square has been affected.
At least one Town Square shop is reporting a sales slump that started midweek.
Brianna Farmer, general manager of Bootlegger, said she didn’t want to attribute any sales drop-off to protestors, but said business has trailed off noticeably since Wednesday, when Operation Save America set up on the square.
She said customers wishing to avoid the square are welcome to use the business’ back door.
“We do want to support the Boy Scouts as much as we can by staying open this weekend,” Farmer said. “We really want to do the right thing.”
Jackson resident Jeremy Aughenbaugh, who was active in helping Operation Save America arrange a return after their rancorous protests last year, said community reaction to the protests is a “mixed bag.”
“I definitely had no illusions,” he said. “I knew that they wouldn’t be given the keys to the city. But I am encouraged by the people who have come up to say they are glad [protesters] are here.”
Aughenbaugh said he counts himself among those people.
Jackson Hole United, which is urging community members stay calm in the face of protests, will expand its effort to detour people away from Operation Save America’s signs and protests.
In a special meeting Thursday morning, the Jackson Town Council approved a request from United member Kelly Egan to hang signs and banners larger than those generally allowed by the town’s sign ordinance.
The new banners will feature the group’s watchwords “Civility, Compassion, Love,” which they intend as a contrast to Operation Save America’s confrontational approach.
The council granted the request on the condition that the banners be gone by May 22 at the latest and that Jackson Hole United get permission from property and business owners before hanging signs.
Protestors are scheduled to remain in Jackson until Sunday.