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Rainforest Action Network activist clash with Toyota

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Toyota exec, activist clash at L.A. show
By Rick Popely | Tribune staff reporter | Link to Original Article @ Chicago Tribune
November 15, 2007

LOS ANGELES - A Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. executive knocked a video camera out of the hands of an environmental activist posing as another industry official Wednesday at the media preview for the Los Angeles Auto Show, the latest such public effort to pressure major automakers to alter their environmental policies.

The incident occurred at the end of Toyota's press conference, where Bob Carter, vice president and general manager of the Toyota division, was introducing the 2008 Sequoia full-size SUV.

When a man asked Carter why Toyota was suing California over carbon-dioxide emissions regulations, Carter noticed that the man's media badge identified him as Dave Schembri, head of Mercedes-Benz's Smart division. Carter knocked the video camera from the man's hands, and security guards separated the two.

The unidentified activist, who said he was with the San Francisco-based Rainforest Action Network, was escorted away by police. Toyota executives said they did not plan to press charges.

Toyota recently became a target of environmental groups because it supported proposals in Congress to raise fuel economy standards to 32 to 35 miles per gallon by 2022, with separate rules for cars and trucks. The activists favor a flat 35 m.p.g. standard by 2020.

Carter didn't apologize for his action and said: "For someone to wear a name badge of a friend of mine, I knew something was up. That's not right."

Irv Miller, Toyota's corporate communications director, shrugged off the incident.

"It's probably on YouTube now. That's freedom of speech," Miller said

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