Young Portland Girl Stopped from Selling Mistletoe but told that Begging is All Right

Friday, December 06, 2013
(photo: Ashton Root)

In Portland, Oregon, begging for money on the streets is okay, and does not require a permit. But try to sell some mistletoe sans permit, like 11-year-old Madison Root, and local authorities will shut you down.


Root recently attempted to sell mistletoe she collected from her uncle’s farm in order to help her father pay for her braces, which will cost $4,800.


She offered her bunches of mistletoe—each trimmed and tied with a red bow—to  shoppers and passersby downtown at the Portland Saturday Market, which features vendors of all kinds hawking their goods, as well as homeless asking for change.


Within a half hour, Root had sold seven bunches at $4 each. But a private security guard stopped Root from making her sales because a city ordinance bans such commerce without a permit.


“I wouldn’t think I’d have any problems because people are asking for money, people are selling stuff, this is a public place,” Madison told KATU News.


The other people selling at the market had official approval, while begging is allowed because it is a form of free speech, protected under the First Amendment.


That’s why the guard informed Root that she could simply ask people for donations, and forego the mistletoe altogether.


To which she replied: “I don’t want to beg! I would rather work for something than beg.”


When word got out about what had happened, one man tracked her down and purchased 30 bags of her mistletoe. Another man, McKenzie Farms owner Ken Cook, donated $1,000 to Root’s enterprise.


Her top row of braces now in place, Root is planning to return to the mart next week, with mistletoe in tow, to give a speech. “The city laws are supporting begging and are against working,” she told The Oregonian. “I feel that I can make a statement and possibly make a difference.”

-Noel Brinkerhoff, Danny Biederman


To Learn More:

Girl, 11, told Not to Sell Mistletoe, But Begging is Fine (by Dan Cassuto, KATU News)


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