Protesters cloud Apple’s new iPad launch

March 16, 2012

Protesters asking Apple to change the labor practices in factories in its supply chain have mobilized at stores in Georgetown, San Francisco and New York City. Their goal was to remind Apple and its fans that the gadgets on sale today come from factories that have been criticized for poor labor practices.

Apple has been the target of criticism over the labor practices of members of its supply chain in the past — criticism that has only grown stronger since a series of media reports have made reported problems at Foxconn and Pegatron a public focus.

The protests at stores today were organized by the same group that mobilized consumers to deliver two online petitions from Change.org and SumofUs.org, with a combined 250,000 signatures, to Apple employees at stores in Washington, New York, San Franciso, London, Sydney and Bangalore. Dozens showed up to protest the conditions reported in Apple’s factories around the world.

On Friday, the protests were fairly subdued. Change.org spokewsoman Sarah Ryan said that there were about a dozen protesters at each location to hand out cards with comments from those who signed the petitions.

“The Apple store employees were all very welcoming of the protesters and didn’t make any moves to push them away or quiet them,” Ryan said.

Still, protesters were far outnumbered by those eager to buy Apple’s new iPad at stores participating in today’s global launch. Wired reported that a “small handful” of protesters showed up at New York’s Grand Central Apple store. Two protesters at the Georgetown Apple store held a banner that read: “250,000+ to Apple. Think Different. Think Ethical.”

Related stories:

Steve Wozniak, others queue up for the new iPad

Apple iPad review: ‘Retina Display’ technology makes screen look like glowing paper

The new iPad: Review roundup

New iPad: iFixit co-founder flies to Australia to nab tablet early

New iPad’s hype makes for long lines at Apple stores

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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