UPDATE: Anti-SodaStream Demo at Cliff’s Variety

Protesters in front of Cliff's on Dec. 28th, 2012. Photo: Dov Baum

Protesters in front of Cliff’s on Dec. 28th, 2012. Photo: Dov Baum

As we posted on December 26th, a small protest inside Cliff’s Variety Store on Christmas eve around the sale of SodaStream Soda Maker, a carbonating water system  manufactured in the disputed Israeli-occupied territories in the West Bank settlement of Mishor Adumim, turned physical when Cliff’s employees physically ejected demonstrators from the store.

Police arrived on the scene 25 minutes after being called to find a few of the older members of the group bruised and a bit worse for wear. Statements were taken and some of the protestors have filed assault complaints with the SFPD over their treatment at the hands of Cliff’s employees.

Protestor at Cliff's 12/28. Photo: Dov Baum

Protestor at Cliff’s 12/28. Photo: Dov Baum

Store manager and Merchants of Upper Market Castro (MUMC) President, Terry Bennet, countered her staff weren’t trained to deal with these sort of situations and that the protestors hit one of her staff first and in the jostle to remove them knocked into an as yet unidentified customer with a child in a stroller.

On the 28th of December a group of 25 protestors returned to the store-this time remaining outside-for an hour long, peaceful, vigil to outreach to the Castro community at large.

They held a picket and passed out information sheets on the particulars of their position regarding the SodaStream product and why they feel it shouldn’t be sold at Cliff’s. Reaction was mixed with some supporting and other’s vocally taunting the protestors saying they, “got what they deserved” last time.

Many within the Castro have wondered why Cliff’s, a small family owned business and mainstay of the neighborhood, has been targeted when many large, nationwide corporations also stock the protested product? The group have taken their call for a boycott to large box, corporate stores like Bed, Bath & Beyond who stock SodaStream. Videos posted to You Tube show the group engaging in similar protest tactics at Bed, Bath & Beyond they used at Cliff’s on Xmas eve minus the manhandling.

These protests are not just in San Francisco but have been taking place all over the world. SodaStream has been criticized for operating a manufacturing plant on land in the West Bank by the Israeli non-governmental organizations Coalition of Women for Peace and Peace Now, as well as other human rights organizations

Protestors point out they’ve petitioned Cliffs ,via Ms. Bennet, for more than eight months to remove SodaStream and replace it with other similarly priced products that function in the same way and aren’t financially involved or supporting the ongoing political conflict between Israel and Palestine. Ms. Bennet has declined their entreaties. Protestors stated they will continue the campaign at Cliff’s and at any other store until there is diversification.

Community activists ask shoppers not to buy SodaStream product. Photo: Dov Baum

Community activists ask shoppers not to buy SodaStream product. Photo: Dov Baum

SodaStream was founded in 1903, grossed $275.36 million worldwide for the fiscal year of 2011, and is a strong campaigner for eco/green issues with a specialty focus on removing bottle and can waste from land fills. They assert that by using their product a family of four could keep 10,657 cans and bottles out of landfills on average over five years.


Waiyde Palmer

Waiyde Palmer loves San Francisco, social activism and punk rock(ers). His work has appeared in Handbook Magazine. SF Bay Times, The Advocate, Diseased Pariah News and American Music Press . He also has an extensive and repeatedly redacted FBI file.

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5 Responses

  1. Mr. Palmer,
    When you say a small protest inside Cliff’s, you forget to say they were wrong whither it was 1 person or the 8-10 who took part in the first place. They not only blocked the isles, but were taking pictures within the store and must ask for permission to do so before they did,that is unlawful on private property. Those other big stores…did they go inside them like they did at Cliff’s… I doubt it because those big stores have their own security force… something that Cliff has never needed in all their years in the Castro. They petitioned Cliff’s 8 months ago, and because Cliff did not kowtow to their demands… they bullied their way into a privately owned company to protest something that’s very political… When you say these protest are taking place all over the world… it’s sound like thousands are protesting in many world countries and not the hand full of protesters in just a few cities in a couple of countries. (all over the world… really)

    Now I realize it’s apples and oranges… but I do not see these peace loving Arab-Palestinians protesting the 65,000 people killed in Syria. Why aren’t these groups protesting about women being raped throughout Muslim Countries, or shooting little girls who want to go to school? They seem only interested in Jewish own manufactures, or want to only Boycott Israeli products… Is there any chance the real agenda they have is because they lost 3 wars that they started trying to drive the Jewish State into the sea, and still refuse to recognize the State of Israel.

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  2. Sanchez resident says:

    Cliff’s has come under a lot of fire in the past few months. Having Terry head of MUMC hasn’t helped. But, think of this. Cliff’s closes due to all the bad public relations and we have another empty store on Castro. But, the good news is that we have a Lowe’s in the City now. Oh, that’s right Lowe’s is “formula” retail. Darn it, where will I get my nuts and bolts.

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  3. Sanchez, When you say bad publicity, keep in mind that Cliff was here before the Castro became America’s gay mecca. They had years great relations,sponsoring street closures and Halloween happenings, especially for young kids. Cliff has a history of hiring gay help, including Harvey Milk’s partner Scott Smith. When you say bad publicity, consider the source of those complaining. Cliff is not about to close. Cliff’s is worth while supporting and has not ripped off their customers. They treat all customers equally. The last event was politically incorrect. At least they are learning to protest from the street where it should of been in the first place.

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    • Sanchez resident says:

      You are correct, Jerry. My sarcasm was too obscure. Terry Bennet has done a great job while enduring all the attacks from outside sources.

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  4. Me says:

    These protesters are mentally ill. They give the anti-gay violence of Arab governments a 100% free pass. The stand “in solidarity” with governments who murder their own LGBT citizens.

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