If you were headed for The Q last night, it might have been wise to stay clear of the Sherwin-Williams suite.
ACORN was outside protesting the company's refusal to spring for the removal of lead paint from older homes in Cleveland, many of which house low-income families. "They sold it knowing it was poisonous, particularly to children," says ACORN's Kris Harsh.
Earlier this year a Rhode Island jury found the company liable for creating a "public nuisance" by poisoning thousands of kids with its lead-based paint ["The Poison Kids," August 16]. It was ordered, along with two other companies, to pay for a clean-up that could cost more than $3 billion. The cities of East Cleveland, Toledo and Akron each followed with lawsuits.
ACORN didn't pick The Q just because they'd find twenty thousand people who like to yell. James C. Boland, a Cavaliers vice president, sits on Sherwin-Williams' board of directors. Harsh wants fans to sign a petition requesting Boland push company management to protect those children whose families can't afford the expensive process of lead abatement.
Harsh says lead poisoning affects 2,000 children a year in Cuyahoga County alone, their symptoms ranging from attention-deficit disorder and hyperactivity to vomiting, seizures and hair loss.
"What if LeBron James had been poisoned by lead paint as a child?" says Julie Smith, another ACORNer. "Would he be the great king of the court he is now?"
Says Harsh: "He probably wouldn't be able to remember the playbook."
Thursday the group will protest at the company's headquarters on Prospect Avenue and at Sherwin-Williams stores across the United States and in Canada, Mexico, Peru and Argentina.
"We're not asking them to pay the medical bills for every kid that's been lead-poisoned," says Harsh. "But when you're the most profitable paint company on the planet, we think you have a responsibility to help clean up some of the hazards created from your product. They could meet all of our demands and it wouldn't even dent their profits."
Last night's promotion, ironically? Drew Gooden Bald Head Night. — Jason Nedley