Head Pretender Chrissie Hynde was arrested Thursday for staging a protest in the window of a Gap store in New York City. Hynde, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals president Ingrid Newkirk and two PETA supporters were detained while protesting the store's use of black-market leather from India. The musician has participated in five other demonstrations while on her current U.S. tour, but according to PETA Director of Campaigns, Dan Mathews, police were summoned to the Manhattan Gap because it was the first time Hynde held her protest inside a store.
"The day before the New York protest, PETA received a letter from the Gap shirking all responsibility for the illegal skin trade that supplies them," said Mathews, who also attended the protest. "So this time we brought the protest right inside their window." He also promised that the protests would not stop because of the arrests. "I think our protests show the Gap that we're not just going to walk away because they say they're not going to change their practices. We'll keep it up until they stop selling leather from India."
"Chrissie didn't intend to turn her concert tour into a protest tour," Matthews added. "But we will keep up the pressure until they change their practices."
Hynde launched the protest by purchasing a leather jacket from the store and joining the PETA members outside. She then returned inside the store, with three others and asked to return the merchandise. While an employee issued her a refund Hynde and three others stepped into a window display where they chanted "We won't go until the cows come home."
The protesters then began destroying leather goods. "They ripped a suede shirt and leather pants off a mannequin and then began ripping the linings out of some leather jackets," said one witness. A Gap employee said Hynde had a knife and was using it to rip the displays. The store then summoned the police, later estimating the damage to be nearly $1000.
Hynde and the three protesters were hit with felony charges of third degree criminal mischief, and released at approximately 5 a.m. Friday morning, according to a police spokesperson. A Warner Bros. spokesperson did not have a statement from the singer at press time, but did say that a New York Pretenders concert would go on as scheduled, and the tour is scheduled to wrap up this weekend. According to PETA, Hynde has no more protests scheduled.
Written by JAAN UHELSZKI for RollingStone.com News