A 15-year-old Boulder animal rights activist arrested Friday for dropping flowers inside a case of meat at Ideal Market on Feb. 26 insists she did so of her own volition.
“This was my decision,” Ateret Goldman told the Daily Camera on Saturday.
“As I’ve said many times, this is something I’ve come to be passionate about of my own free will,” she said. “I don’t look at my age as a limiting factor at all. I would encourage anyone who thinks that because I am 15 that it automatically means anything to learn about ageism.”
Ateret Goldman and 23-year-old Maximilian Knight face criminal charges — including one felony for her and three for Knight — for their part in a protest at Ideal Market when Goldman dropped white carnations inside a meat case Feb. 26.
Ateret Goldman’s mother, Ora Goldman, said she supports her daughter’s actions — and she is comfortable that her daughter has acted of her own accord and is not being manipulated by adults — although she is concerned about the consequences of a potential felony conviction.
“I think that has ramifications,” she said. “But I think people worth associating with would be able to distinguish it from other crimes that would be called felonies.”
She added that she hopes there is a balance her daughter can strike between standing up for what she believes is right and getting into legal trouble because of it.
Knight said that the protest was Ataret Goldman’s idea, and he came along to film her laying the flowers on the meat.
“I didn’t know about it before that,” he said. “It’s really that simple.”
Knight said that he considers Ataret Goldman a friend, but he usually only sees her in the context of protests, which they have conducted together in the past.
“I don’t know any other 15-year-olds who are as impressive as Ataret,” he said. “In many ways she impresses me. I think she is way more intense about these things than I am.”
He added that he was surprised that he has been charged with three felonies and a misdemeanor for what he sees as “expressing my First Amendment rights.” He said he had been banned from another Whole Foods but wasn’t aware the ban extended to Ideal Market, which is owned by Whole Foods.
Animal rights group Direct Action Everywhere has claimed responsibility for the protest. Ataret Goldman, who is a member and organizer with the group, associates not only with the 23-year-old Knight, but with 22-year-old Aidan Cook, who has acted as the group’s spokesman.
Ora Goldman said she has met with both men, and she doesn’t have any qualms about her daughter associating with them. She added that her daughter has been active in community service for several years, and she sees her association with Direct Action Everywhere as an extension of that.
“I was relieved to see my daughter chose such good people to be friends with,” she said. “I feel I can trust their intentions.”
Cook told the Daily Camera that the organization has members ranging from children to people in their 70s and 80s across the country. He said that Ateret Goldman has participated in actions on her own, and, said that if anything, she “dragged” Knight along with her to the protest at Ideal Market.
“The suggestion that Ateret is being manipulated is evidence of a misogynist undercurrent in our society,” Cook said. “A young woman empowered to speak boldly is considered a threat to the status quo.”
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