Moms Protest Toys "R" Us and Toxic Greed

Special flashback bonus video: Protesters took to the streets of Southampton last month to ask residents there to rally for more tax breaks for one of their neighbors: buyout king Henry Kravis. On Monday, protesters rallied outside of Toys "R" Us, which is partly owned by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, Kravis' private equity firm.

Parents, child safety advocates, and activists protested in front of the West 57th Street headquarters of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, which owns part of Toys "R" Us, to call on the buyout firm to adopt a strict code of conduct for its suppliers to ensure that more toys tainted with lead paint do not wind up on store shelves.

"With all the dangers that parents must protect their children from today, we cannot add to that the additional worry of whether toys are safe," Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez, (D-NY) said in a statement. "It is crucial that parents feel confident when buying products for their kids, and KKR must take ultimate responsibility for the quality of merchandise sold in their stores. Anything less is completely unacceptable."

Chanting "Toys "R" Toxic", the demonstrators said buyout firms, such as KKR, need to put safety before profits and take measures to ensure that tainted toys don't wind up on store shelves as they did throughout the summer.

The coalition, which includes the Center For Environmental Health, the Service Employees International Union, ACORN, Greenpeace, and the Working Families Party among other noted that:

  • This summer, Toys “R” Us recalled thousands of lead-tainted bibs and crayon and paint sets.
  • Earlier this year, Toys “R” Us also recalled more than 128,000 toy sets because of unsafe levels of lead
  • This month, 15,000 Toys “R” Us toys were recalled for lead levels that violate federal standards.

    The group, which announced a hotline (866) 311-3405 for parents to call and web site toxicplayroom.org, said buyout firms such as Kohlberg Kravis Roberts should:

  • Know what’s in its products by requiring content and safety information.
  • First eliminate the most hazardous chemicals like lead, phthalates, PBDEs, cadmium and bisphenol A from children’s toys.
  • Ensure workers and production and disposal site communities are protected.
  • Support government reform measures that close the safety gap that continues to allow untested chemicals into everyday consumer products.

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