Capitol Police arrest Lemonade Freedom Day protesters

C.J. Ciaramella Contributor
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They set out to sell ice-cold lemonade, but now three Washington, D.C. protesters might need some legal aid.

Capitol police arrested three people Saturday afternoon for selling lemonade on the West Lawn of the Capitol Building. They were participating in “Lemonade Freedom Day” — a national demonstration against a spate of recent lemonade stand shutdowns by police and health inspectors.

According to the D.C. group’s Facebook event page, three lemonistas — Meg Mclain, K.n. Dill and Will Duffield — were taken into custody by Capitol Police. A spokesperson for the Capitol Police said they were each charged with failure to obey a police officer, unlawful conduct and vending without a permit.

The protesters were selling lemonade on the Capitol lawn, rather than the sidewalk. The selling of any item on Capitol grounds is prohibited. A video of the protest can be seen here.

Forbes counted at least nine recent examples of children’s lemonade stands being shut down for not having permits. (RELATED: Jefferson Memorial closed by police over free speech ‘dance party’)

Georgia police, for example, shut down a lemonade stand run by three girls who were saving money to go to a water park. Police told the girls they needed a business license, a peddler’s permit and a food permit to operate the stand, which each cost $50 per day or $180 per year.

And Coralville, Iowa police shut down a 4-year-old’s lemonade stand after it had been up and running for just a half-hour.

Robert Fernandes, the creator of Lemonade Freedom Day, said he was alarmed by the trend.

“Most people remember growing up and having lemonade stands,” Fernandes said. “It’s a small issue, but there’s bigger parts to it. 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.”

Fernandes created the website and Facebook page for the event about five weeks ago. As of today, nearly 5,000 people were registered to participate via Facebook, and there were at least 35 different groups participating in the protest across the country.

The D.C. protesters are no strangers to trouble. The event was organized by Eddie Free, the same man who organized a dance party at the Jefferson Memorial earlier this summer that was shut down by police.

And one of the arrested protesters, Meg McLain, caused a stir last year when Transportation Security Administration officials detained her and refused to let her fly after she questioned the agency’s new body scanners.

Free freely admitted he and the rest of his group have a bit of a penchant for rabble-rousing.

“We do,” he said. “And we’re going to keep it up.”

C.J. Ciaramella