The Battle Against Lemonade Stand Crackdowns

Three arrests on 'Lemonade Freedom Day'

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The Players: Robert Fernandes, organizer of 'Lemonade Freedom Day' and lemonade stand entrepreneurs across the nation; Jon Kawaguchi, environmental health supervisor for Multnomah County, Oregon, and various government officials

The Opening Serve:  Fernandes created Lemonade Freedom Day after news reports of officials shutting down children's lemonade stands across the country started to multiply. "Most people remember growing up and having lemonade stands," Fernandes said in a Daily Caller report. "It’s important to kids because it teaches them how to come up with an idea and see it through. These kids are learning how to run a small business. I think by telling them they can’t do that, you’re shutting down their dreams." Stories like police in Coralville, Iowa shutting down 4-year-old Abigail Krutsinger's 25-cent a pop stand for health reasons and officials threatening a $500 fine on 7-year-old Julie Murphy's 50-cent per cup operation in Multnomah County, Oregon for not having a $120 temporary restaurant license, (upon further review, officials apologized to Murphy) sparked Fernandes' activism. Coralville City Administrator Kelly Hayworth said the city was simply trying to regulate health codes on vendors like Krutsinger, and that they can't pick and choose when to enforce those rules. Jon Kawaguchi, environmental health supervisor for Multnomah County's health department cited similar reasons in shutting down Murphy. "I understand the reason behind what they're doing and it's a neighborhood event, and they're trying to generate revenue," said Kawaguchi to The Oregonian. "But we still need to put the public's health first." Fernandes says, though, in an interview on the Lemonade Freedom site:  "The more lemonade stands that they shut down, the more people are signing on to the cause. As activists, they make our job easier for us." Saturday's Lemonade Freedom Day had the support of over 5,000 Facebook fans and around 40 pledged lemonade stands around the country. "We're trying to get everyone here to participate in a little active civil disobedience," Fernandes said in a YouTube interview from Philadelphia on Saturday. "I mean it all comes down to control. They think they control us, they think they control our lives."

The Return Volley:  But the backlash has peppered Lemonade Freedom's Facebook page, where comments range from "I remember back in the 70's and 80's when the whole mall in DC looked like a collection of bad yard sales and vendors' food could land you in the hospital...I would never want to see that again" to "If you wish to truly make a change in the laws, why not try to do it in a legal proactive way such as voting or signing a petition?" Although the Lemonade Freedom Web site says that "selling lemonade is not a crime," there were three arrests in D.C. on the Capitol Lawn during Saturday's show of solidarity. "Selling lemonade -- that's not a charge," U.S. Capitol Police Sgt. Kimberly Schneider told Fox News. "Three people were arrested by USCP for failure to obey a police officer, unlawful conduct, vending without a permit."  From a video of the arrest, a uniformed police officer asks, "So you want to be arrested for your cause of lemonade liberation?" The Daily Caller reports that Eddie Free and Meg Mclain, two of the D.C. protestors, have had episodes of public disturbances in the past--a dance party at Jefferson Memorial and a TSA dust-up respectively.

What They Say They're Fighting About: If lemonade stands are subject to the usual health code policy. Fernandes calls these rules "bad laws" and an unnecessary bureaucratic exercise in control. Law officials like Hayworth and Kawaguchi cite public health as the main causes of shutting down stands, and that the laws are meant to protect people's well-being.

What They're Really Fighting About: Government interference versus entrepreneurship. Fernandes believes that by eliminating lemonade stands, the local governments and the United States are stifling the ideas of entrepreneurship and spontaneity. Government officials believe that there are steps to starting your own business and that entrepreneurship has to follow a certain set of rules.

Who's Winning Now: Lemonade stands. Even though those arrested at The Capitol have a history of rousing authorities, for now Fernandes has the upper hand. We understand the dilemma local governments face and those with fragile constitutions are more than grateful for health-code inspections and food-preparation rules at various grub hubs. It's just that laying down the law on children operating lemonade stands isn't going to win fans, especially when officials in cases like 7-year-old Julie Murphy's are made to apologize.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.