Behind those doors are Scientologists, this is (almost) a normal business day
PHASE 1: Friday, March 13, Celebrity Center, Franklin St. Hollywood CA
I arrived at LAX at 9:00, hired a car, and headed for Hollywood. In my luggage are two dozen hot-off-the-press "Scientology Kills" t-shirts, compliments of the Ray Randolph Problem. Ray also loaned me his old laptop, on which I had installed a 50-free hour AOL account, for posting our picket reports. But I elected not to take it with me after reading about Bob Minton's laptop being stolen.
I didn't know at exactly which facility the 10:00am picket was going to occur, so I drove my rental car up and down Sunset Blvd, Fountain, Hollywood Blvd, and finally found the ARSCC out in force at the Celebrity Center on Franklin St at around 11:30AM.
What a turnout! Between 20 and 30 of the world's biggest criminal SPs marching on one single city block, right where John Travolta and Tom Cruise and the very perky Jeanna Elfmann get audited.
I drove past to a residential area, parked, grabbed my camcorder and went to meet the folks and to fall in with those who would demand that Scientology stop being a totalitarian coercive cult of harassers.
As I approached from across the street, my first impression of the scene was a fun one. Two city garbage trucks pulled up to the stoplight, saw the picketers and laid on their air horns, smiling and giving the thumbs up sign. Later in the day I learn from one who is in-the-know about such things, that Scientology hates when this happens, as it disrupts the celebrity auditing sessions going on inside.
My first priority was to introduce myself and to meet the individuals whose posts I've been reading and whose stories I've been learning for three years. I meet Dennis Erlich, Prescilla Coats, Zinjifar, XenuBat, Lil Alex, Ted Mayett, Jeff Jacobsen, Bruce Pettycrew, Dieter Literschwantz (aka Tilman Hausherr), Kevin, Martinn Ottmann, Christer Lindstrom, PBXtalk, Deana Holmes, Grady Ward, Misenla, OT8, TommyC, Conner, Neal, PRH, Gary Scarff, Bob Minton, Stacy Young, Prignillius, Allison, and many others (sorry, if I left your off the list) Several lurkers from the LA area are also picketing, one of whom told me he was ambivalent about Scientology until they tried to infiltrate the public school system with their H.E.L.P organization. He gives me a flyer printed by H.E.L.P, with John Travolta's and Kelly Preston's smiling faces on the cover. I will soon scan it in and mail it to whoever wants a copy.
"But where's Keith Henson, I ask? I'm dying to meet him." "He was here a few minutes ago," I'm told. I've missed a bit of excitement, an incident in which someone has apparently thrown a ceramic coffee mug at the picketers.
Another garbage truck goes by, more air horn music. I wondered if one of the same guys had driven around the block just to honk some more, or if ALL the garbage men in LA hate Scientology? My admiration for the sensibilities of LA garbage men goes up inestimably. Other cars drive by, honking, waving, cheering. This theme will be repeated over and over for the next 30 hours, wherever we picket and are visible to pubic traffic. From the reactions of the traffic, I would estimate that many Los Angelinos despise Scientology, and are happy to see someone doing something to get in their faces.
But things are not 100% favorable from the passersby. One guy pulls his car over to the curb, yelling something at us as he leans over and rolls down the passenger window. We bend down to hear the last portion of his complaint. "You ought to read something and get the truth," he tells us. We are pretty comfortable that we have his meaning. He thinks the mere reading of some Hubbardspew would instantaneously change us, as it may have done for him. We disappoint him with the sad news that the picketers on average have likely read more Hubbardspew than he has. He drives off, quite enturbulated.
There are only small numbers of people in the CC parking area, behind a steel wrought-iron fence and hidden by much greenery. Two OSA type guys approach and stroll pass. "Hi Guys" I tell them. A sardonic Death Stare is the only answer I get.
Within 30 minutes of my arrival, the picket is beginning a move over to L. Ron Hubbard Way. Tom Cruise was nowhere to be seen. I'm disappointed about that, but keep it to myself.
I notice this protest was missing something that I was familiar with in the two Boulder pickets I've attended, counter protesters. This is refreshing, if somewhat dull. One is left to wonder whether a significant paradigm shift has occurred within the Scientology organization, or whether Kirstie and Tom and John and Jenna just don't *do* counter picketing stints.
Friday, Phase II, the Afternoon.
We hit L.Ron Hubbard Way with a show of overwhelming numbers. I approach from the south, getting a short video clip of some folks I've been told are on the RPF. These people are quickly hustled away from the street. I'm told by an elder gentleman that the street is closed, and that I cannot traverse Hubbard Way to join up with the bulk of the others at the north end. He tells me I'll have to go around the block. And indeed, there are barricades across the south end of LRH Way. I scope him out and tell him, it's faster just to go this way, and walk past him a few feet to where a couple of cop cars are standing. Here, a distinguished looking guy with a great silvery head of hair and beard is explaining something to the cops. I listen for a minute, and it's clear that he's trying to impugn the character of the picketers, we are religious bigots, potentially violent. I shouted to the cops that the picketers are here to protest peacefully, and that we have political differences and issues with the Church of Scientology. I resume walking north. The silvery haired guy and another Hispanic gentleman, also well-dressed in a suit and tie, follow along shortly thereafter.
OSA security bikes are being peddled around. No Sea Org uniforms are in evidence. At the north end, the street is blocked off about 75 yds south of Sunset Blvd. (past where cars can drive into the Dianetics parking lot). The barricades have helium balloons floating above them, a couple of the barricades have framed posters of the old megalomaniac Hubbard himself, with the caption, LR Hubbard Birthday Celebration, March 13-15. And a subtext section that says something to the effect that "Instead of just talking about a better world, he gave us the technology to make one" (this may not be the exact quote, but it gives the flavor).
Most of us are milling north of the barricades, some are picketing under the big Scientology sign on Sunset. The silvery haired guy, who I learn is the infamous lying, weasel, Henson-chasing Glenn Barton, threatens us with arrest if we come inside the barricades and for the most part, for now our group stays to the north of the barricades. But his tone and his bullying arrogance pissed me off just a bit, and I whip out one of the t-shirts I'm carrying, and slip it on over my head. It says "Scientology Kills on the front and has the text of OT-III is on the back. I start passing out shirts to others. Some picketers start walking around the outside block and along Sunset. Deana demands to see the stree closure order. Barton sends someone for it. Deana and Bob Minton are arguing that the street closure doesn't restrict public access, only vehicle traffic. We ask for the cops to come up to the north end and give their ruling. While we are waiting, I ask Barton if he has any other TRO paper he wants to serve on any of us? I tell him he looks pretty scared. He ignores me.
Dennis Erlich asked why the cops aren't driving up to the north end to answer our question. He started walking down to the south end to talk to the cops. At that point, we just started ignoring Barton's threats and all the protesters started walking down LRH Way whenever they wanted to. Some of us would picket on Sunset, Fountain (Bridge Publications office is there), New Hampshire, Barton pretty much never made a peep to us after that point.
There hadn't been but a handful of Scientologists in the street all afternoon. We were photographed and watched from the windows. A few security personnel kept watch. The scene was surreal.
Late in the afternoon, a Mercedes came through the barracades and turned into the AOLA parking lot. Elliott Abelson got out and I saw him and Barton going into the AOLA building. But Ableson knows hes legally impotent this time. It's hard to paint 35 people holding picket signs with the same brush. Scientologists hid from us all afternoon, except one "spunky" public lady who called us ESSPEEs as she was leaving the Dianetics center in her green pickup, which was decorated with a big red bow on the front, for Elron's birthday. We replied "thank you" to her. I told her she was the only Scientologist besides Barton to talk to us.
And there were a few Scientology kids. We walked up one side and down the other until around 3:30pm, when the clouds started cooling things down.
With the excitement over our victory against the disfunctional organization known as the CoS winding down, I'll try to keep my account of the weekend short. But there were several incidents that I feel need to be recorded, & have been overlooked in those several intense days.
1. A Forgotten Picket. I have decided not to publish my version of the Friday night picket, since kEvin has written about it far more coherently than I had.
[However, he overlooked a couple of incidents. One of the few leaflets handed out that night was from Keith Hensen to a child, who immediately took it inside of Cedars. As an action in enturbulation, Keith deserves special mention for this act. And the Scienos would be better off looking for the overts & withholds that keep pulling Keith in on them!
Another was the fact that lots of motorists along Sunset honked their horns & gave us thumbs up for our signs. The CoS is despised even on its home turf.
Lastly, but most importantly, picketing with Keith Hensen proved to me that he was far from violent or unstable. Perhaps one could make the argument that he has a devilish sense of humor, but talking with Keith proved to me that he was always a responsible, nonviolent man, more interested in the threat of the CoS to the Internet than the substance of the teachigns of Hubbard. Any truly spiritual organization would ignore him, while allowing individuals to debate him in a responsible & dignified manner; only the CoS would attempt to uncover allegations of crimes & slander his character, instead of confronting whether NOTS 34 truly is inciting people to practice medicine without a license.
2. Saturday on Sunset. As usual, our start on more picketing began with most of us standing in the parking lot, trying to decide what & where we were going to go. But what would one expect from people who are more comfortable talking than doing? ;-) About 9:30, one vehicle left, full of protesters, apparently for the Scieno offices on Sunset where Keith Hensen had been attacked by some Scienos & "arrested" by the alleged LA Police Chaplain Abelson. I got in the car driven by Ted "Master of U-Turns" Mayett with Xenubat & kEvin, & we drove over to the office building in question.
Only to find no one there but a single male in street clothes, picking at the blue tarp that had fallen down during the night. Ted drove the car around the block, looking both for a place to park, & for any evidence of the rest of the picketers. Doubling back on Sunset, we pulled up next to the Scieno building, & I suggested that we ask the workman if he had seen any picketers. While we debated this, kEvin noticed our fellow SPs across the street, confirming this was where we were to picket. Ted dropped us off at the next block, did another U-turn to park in a free spot, & we began the picket.
The lone workman was joined by a second, & they began to sloppily put up the blue tarp: I say sloppily, because within 15 minutes, part of the plastic began to rip & a piece of wood attached to the plastic almost hit a passer-by in the head! These two were joined by a large man with the energy of a twenty-year old, who berated them in an SP's version of Tone 40: I later learned that this man was Dennis Ehrlich.
The Scienos also tried their tactic of sending the LA Parking Patrol over here, repeating what they had attempted from Friday. Keith Hensen heard about this, & quickly ran over to sort things out. I don't know what happened between them, but shortly afterwards the Parking Patrol woman drove off.
Other than that, the Scienos spent their time hiding from us, preferring to enter & leave the building from the parking lot, which was reachable thru an alleyway that ran parallel to Sunset. For a while they would use the street to the east of the building to gain access to the alley, but as our numbers swelled, & we began to picket that side of the building, they would enter & leave by the western entrance of the alley. Except for one bicyclist who showed his ability to communicate with a single "Heil Hitler" to Tilman (who was standing with his back to the cyclist), they showed a complete inability to confront us.
That's not to say they completely ignored us. For a while a guy in a green polo shirt & khaki pants stood in front of a t-shirt shop on the opposite side of Sunset & took pictures. Until we noticed him, & started to take his picture. In a guilty attempt to look nonchalant, he lower his camera & sauntered away.
Probably the one action that harmed our effort to get the word out was a truck that parked in front of us for a while. I had been paranoid so far this entire trip, & my first reaction was that it was some kind of Scieno act. However, the driver simply unloaded several boxes of chicken, & delivered them to a restaurant a couple of doors west of the Scieno offices.
My thanks to J.M. Ivler, who brought us a couple of flats of strawberries to eat while we picketed. I have never eaten berries so large & sweet this early in the year!
3. Alone on L Ron Hubbard Way. By about 10:00am, our troops began to thin, & I found myself with Conner, Ermine, Misenla & Ted. We heard that Author Services, a few blocks west on Sunset, was also being picketed, so Conner, Ermine, Misenla, & I walked over to find it deserted. We decided to walk back to our original picketing site, & Ted gave me a lift on the way back. It was clear that the picket had left there: Keith Hensen was gone (for Hemet, we later learned), & the few SPs left were looking around for the next target. We had heard that it would be Cedars, so we arrived there about 11:00am.
Despite the victory Friday, we -- Xenubat, kEvin, Ted & I -- were four scared SPs. We were walking into the lion's den(1), & knew that without some plans to our safety we could get seriously hurt. I had a disposable camera with me, & Xenubat had a cell phone she got for the picket -- but she did not know the phone number. "That's okay," said Ted, demonstrating his cunning in psychology, "I'll just hold it & pretend to talk into it." And with no more than that, we entered LRH Way.
Only as I look back does it all look so simple: we showed up with our picket signs, the Scienos went into hiding, & we took LRH Way from them. (Was it really worth what you took from the Internet, CoS? Closing penet.fi, stealing Grady's internet account, having your names lumped with scum like Sanford Wallace -- was it a fair exchange for our taking LRH Way from you?) But I have to say that first march up & down the 600 feet of sidewalk was nerve-wracking. And then, having done it, I find I do not fear the CoS any more. They may hurt me, but I do not fear these cowards!
The rest of the day has been written fully about elsewhere. But I want to mention a few things that I have not seen mentioned elsewhere:
A. One of the Lurkers picketing with us spent 10 or 15 minutes talking to this elderly gentleman in coat & hat. I didn't pay much attention to this at first, thinking that the gentleman was a passerby, curious about our signs. However, a Sea Org female emerged from AOLA, & led him in by the hand.
Said Lurker, later told me that he was an auditor down from San Francisco, who had been in the CoS since the early 1950's. (The gentleman had given his card to S. Lurker, who showed it to me.) The gentleman had never heard of Xenu, Body Thetans, or any of the other Science-Fiction crap, but had been quite happy to talk about Scientology with him, demonstrating his ability to communicate with anyone. Who knows? If he'd been out there talking to S. Lurker, maybe he would have started taking classes about the Tech.
(After all, he had no fear of confronting Scienos in person. I watched him ask the bicycle guard a couple of harmless questions [e.g., "Are you a Scientologist?" which the guard found himself unable to answer] that drove this Keeper of Law & Order away. Sheesh, I hope no police department ever sends a Scieno into a dangerous situation: the person would probably flake out, then try to bill the department for the auditing he/she felt was needed to deal with his/her cowardice!)
Anyway, speculation is futile. The female Sea Org had orders that everyone had to hide from us SPs, & this auditor was no exception. She told him that there was a phone call for him inside, & led him away from us. So much for a potential Big Win, CoS!
B. Deanna & I had several conversations about the quality of construction around LRH Way, particularly about two stretches of concrete pathway between the sidewalk & the Cedars building. One pathway she felt was substandard in construction, pointing out the air holes that had formed as the concrete had dried; I thought this was an intentional effect -- it _did_ look nice.
The other pathway was more clearly substandard. Whoever ordered had tried for an exposed-pebble effect, but because the rocks had not been properly polished, the surface appeared to be instead poorly cured, & in desperate need of cosmetic parging. You can't find good slave labor anymore, I guess.
C. Even though we had undisputed control of LRH Way, I knew we had to continue our pickets all around their complex. At one point I asked Ted Mayett to join me in a circuit around the block the Cedars Hospital stood on.
I remember the happy look on his face as he said, "No, I'm precisely where I want to be: right on L Ron Hubbard Way." I think I shall always remember Ted like that. He started as a critic by wanting back the money he gave the organization for classes he never took, then became the thorn in their side that castrated at least 2 offices in Las Vegas, & now roamed unchallenged on the home turf of the Scienos. I doubt he dreamed that he would ever be this successful in his protests!
Neal Hamel ended up joining me on one circuit of the block, eagerly telling me all about what went on inside, where the FBI came in, where the INCOMM computers are, et cetera. What a tour that was!
D. My thanks to the LsaDerrick who brought the sodas to all of us. it came at a very good time. It was nice being part of history, even as a supporting character.
(1) Perhaps this was the real reason Ted insisted that Grady take a photograph of the Lion next to the sidewalk on LRH Way: we had cornered the lion in his den, & lived to tell the tale. Geoff
March 13, 1998. Los Angeles, Ca.
For me, the morning started early. I had driven down from the Bay Area the day before, (6 or 7 hours of driving) and then I stayed up all night working on a new sign. For those of you looking at the pictures, I'm the one carrying the sign that says "$cientology Lies to Silence Critics" on one side, and on the other "$cientology Vs. the Internet: WWW.XENU.NET". Both sides of the sign were bright colors, very striking - You'll see in the pictures. I don't think the $cientologists liked them, but there were so MANY signs for them to dislike. :)
Anyway, I rose early - I went to bed after 3 am and never did actually get to sleep, so I got up at 7 and got ready. I headed into LA, only to find that I had the wrong directions to the hotel - I ended up at 6700 Hollywood Blvd., the $cientology org - But what was this? The entire storefront was wrapped securely in a thick blue tarp! They'd not only shut down, they'd battened down the hatches to try and weather the coming storm!
I wondered then if this was because we'd announced publicly that we'd picket that particular location, or was there more to it? I made a U-turn and headed towards the hotel. Halfway there, I passed the LRH life Museum - Totally covered with a scaffolding. Another one shut down and hiding? My, my..
Finally, I made my way to the hotel and started meeting people. Deana Holmes, (That's pronounced 'deena', not 'deana' - nobody got it right the first time. I have the same problem with my last name, so I sympathized. :) Grady Ward, Dennis Erlich, Keith Henson again, Stacy Young - the names went on and on. After a lot of milling about, we headed for our cars to hit the Celebrity Center. - And there were a LOT of us!
As we got out of the van 2 blocks away, we saw that our first CO$ stooge had spotted us. I have a feeling they had people with phones spread out for blocks around each building! He was standing down the block, and grabbed for his phone as soon as he saw our signs. (SUUUUURE the picket went unnoticed, gertie. SUUUURE it did.. *guffaw!*)
Slowly, the crowd of picketers came from cars and vans parked wherever they could, 4 and 5 at a time joining the growing throng around the Celebrity Center. 5. 10. 15. 20. 25. - I lost count! Signs were lifted and people started to picket. People on the streets started to react as well, with honks, waves, smiles, cheers, and thumbs-ups in encouragement. A LOT of people were responding, and it was a BUSY intersection.
I had decided to wear something flashy, and with the sunshine my shirt was definitely that. Metallic silver stripes are an eye-catcher in the sun! - You can all see it in the uploaded photos, but amongst all the '$cientology KILLS' t-shirts, it didn't stand out as much as it might. :) Maybe I'm wrong. I need to make a 'Xenu killed Kenny - You Bastards!' T-shirt. :)
With one notable exception, I didn't hear a single bad comment the entire time! That exception was memorable to me at least. Across the street to the north of the CC is a block full of apartment buildings, and from one balcony leaned a scruffy looking sort who yelled that we needed to be looking in a dictionary, there were obviously some words we didn't understand. BWAHAHAHA! As it turned out, that was the window that the coffee cup was probably thrown from, as it was directly across the street from where the shattered cup lay afterwards. Communications Tech wins again! NOT.
The place was deserted. The windows were empty but for a few unhappy, pensive faces. The police showed up, but we were well within our rights and we continued to picket. Watching the people within the fenced walls trying to take our pictures from behind cars and bushes was educational. - I was leery of being photographed before, knowing they'd try to use it to smear or intimidate me in some way, but now I saw it in a different light. They were AFRAID of us. All the Scientologists in the world, on their own founder's birthday, and they were afraid to even meet our eyes, much less see our message. Suddenly I was happy to be on MY side of the wall - the OUTside. I took some pictures as well, of the cameras all around the fences, or of the people trying so hard not to be seen while they snapped pictures of us.
We picketed for a couple of hours, then headed over to Cedars (L. Ron Hubbard Way) to enturbulate a little more (What a fun word, 'enturbulate'! heheh.)
When we arrived at Cedars, it was to find the road closed, and a fuming Glen Barton trying to tell us that the permit to close the street for the big birthday event included the sidewalk as well. Of course, 'sidewalk' wasn't mentioned in the permit, but somehow to them, street = sidewalk. More of the vaunted 'Communications Tech'? C'mon guys, can't you even READ, much less understand? Maybe you need to look up 'street' and 'sidewalk' in your handy dictionaries?
After a short and tense wait for clarification from the LAPD, during which we walked both sides of the closed-off street, the police let us know that as a matter of fact, we COULD use the sidewalk! Picketers streamed onto LRH way with a burst of enthusiasm, which grew into hilarity as radio-toting security bustled about and ordered everyone they could off the streets and into the buildings. Not only couldn't they stop us from picketing, they were so afraid of our messages that they had to order all of their people into hiding? Oh, you guys are powerful all right. We SPs are SCARED! - NOT.
All the drapes in all the windows were shut, with furtive eyes peeking out from one or two of the upper rooms. Had they been ordered to shut the drapes? I don't know.
A few minutes later and the street was ours. The center of Scientology in LA, surrounded by signs advertising the celebration to take place there, and it was EMPTY.
More picketing, complete with waving passers-by, and a LOT of laughter on our part. You know, those $cientologists I saw were the UNhappiest-looking people I ever saw. Most of them looked like they'd just eaten something nasty.
Deana and I walked several times down to the end of the block and around the corner to Bridge Publications - Yep, it's right there too! This is the same BPI that is suing Dennis Erlich. I never realized Just how close they were to $cientology Central. As soon as our signs appeared, the receptionist was on the phone frantically dialing. One pass there was a young Sea Orger just around the corner who started walking, then actually RUNNING towards BPI to get there ahead of us.
To me it seemed obvious that, while garlic and crosses might work on vampires, a picket sign wielded by a confident SP worked just as well on the Sea Org.
Eventually, people started to get tired, and we called it a day. I wanted to go to Graham's party, but I hadn't slept in over 40 hours, after a long drive and then a day on my feet carrying a sign, water, leaflets, a cell phone, etc. My feet hurt, and my left knee had begun to ache with every step. I headed out of LA to rejoin my friends and get some much-needed sleep.
Unfortunately that turned into another long drive to a birthday party, standing in the pouring rain for a half hour, and then another drive. This one was even longer because in the dark and the rain, tired and befuddled, I got lost on the freeways. I finally made it to where I was staying at about midnight and got the sleep I needed.
The next morning, we were at it again! This time to the org at 6700 Hollywood Blvd. When I arrived, the tarp the entire corner of the building was covered with had come down and there were people scuttling about underneath it like rats under a rug, trying to put the tarp up without having to actually SEE us and our terrible picket signs. OSA showed up to direct, and the hammering from inside the tarp sounded like they'd break the wall, trying to drown Dennis Erlich out - He was certainly `at cause' over THEM.
While I was there, I had to take a potty break and headed for the McDonald's halfway down the block. While there, I decided to get some food (Picketing is work!), and ordered a burger. I got one, complete with lovely blue fur on the bun. MOLDY! Ugh! I got a replacement, but.. My advice? Do NOT eat at the McDonald's just down the block from the org at 6700 Hollywood Blvd!
I also walked with a few people down to Author Services, but it was as dead as the rest of $cientology today. The receptionist wouldn't meet our eyes as he dialed the phone for support. Wearily we walked back, the wind making it hard to hang onto the signs at times. My knee was throbbing, and I knew I'd only be good for a couple more hours at best..
We broke for lunch. (I should have waited on that hamburger!) We stopped at the Wendy's around the street from Cedars. I got a chocolate frosty. Sugar AND chocolate - yeah, I could picket for another hour or two. ;) We also got to meet a local whacko, (that's a story I'll only try to tell if asked, it'll be difficult to retell accurately - he was a nut!)
And then - $cientology security! Deana spotted them taking our pictures from around the back of the Wendy's and pulled out her camera after letting us know. They scampered - Yes, just like roaches in the light, as others have described. I hadn't thought of it that way till reading the posts, but that's the best comparison I've seen yet. They didn't want to meet our eyes. They were running scared.
With renewed vigor we returned to picket - Today was supposed to be the big celebration that they'd closed the street for, crowds of people to see our signs.
Crowds of people we didn't get. The 'Celebration' never happened. The street was deserted. it was actually kind of unsettling, seeing the street closed and empty, furtive faces peeking out of darkened windows to watch us, security circling and keeping at least some of us in sight at all times.
Every now and again a couple of people, often in Sea Org uniforms, would exit one building or another and scurry down the street, trying not to look at any of us - and having a hard time NOT seeing picketers everywhere they turned.
A few vehicles arrived and departed, one to drop off some tables. One of the men actually spoke to me while leaning against the truck watching the action. He asked what I was here for, what everyone was here for. I started to explain what pulled me into this, how I was sick of the CO$ harassing critics, forging cancels, spamming the 'net, and generally pissing in my sandbox. I only spoke for about thirty seconds when the nearest door opened and they ordered him inside. His name was Matt, the same as mine. He was probably a few years younger than I. I said, "And you can see they don't want YOU to hear about it!" as he disappeared. I hope he heard. I hope he -listened-.
What I felt was pity, for him, for the children I saw, for the youths with the cameras and radios keeping a wary eye on us. Check the photos that were uploaded. There are shots of the street, from one end to the other - nothing but picketers. I asked a pair of children playing soccer in the empty street if it wasn't usually busier than this. I'd seen our friendly CO$ security order them off the street before, but apparently they weren't actually members, and ignored the warning. :) One of them said that yes, it was usually busier, and that they'd certainly been ADVERTISING a big party - weird, wasn't it? I agreed that it certainly was, and that they all seemed pretty scared of us. BIG WIN, CO$! :)
Other images I'll retain from that picket:
The boarding house across the street from the Dianetics Center, with a hand-lettered sign on the door that said 'Tenants, stay inside until the picketers leave or have left.' - Note that that was not phrased as a request, or even politely. We had several different reporters stop by at different times, and I had an interesting time explaining to one or two how I'd gotten into this. When some of them were told about the sign and started filming it, it was quickly removed. Not quickly enough, as J.M. Ivler's pictures show. :)
The little market across the street. Protein shakes in the drink cooler, one wall covered with a bookshelf filled with dictionaries. DICTIONARIES. All sorts, several languages. This was a market so small I could touch the door and the counter at once. (I'm 6' 3", with long arms, but STILL - it was small!)
The forlorn hot-dog vendor who set up at about 2:00, hoping for a good day of sales at the celebration. A few critics bought food, but he'd made a bad choice to set up his stand there this weekend. He certainly took a loss.
The laughter as picketers lined up altogether on the empty sidewalk for a group picture. (I thought it was a GREAT lion! But I thought it'd look better at a zoo or a library, not where it was..) On their own home turf, the very CORE of their 'church', L. Ron Goddamn Hubbard Way itself, on the day of their celebration - We OUTNUMBERED them, and there were only 30 of us!
The 'Celebration' was as dead as Ron himself. (That got repeated up and down the block after the first time it was said, little ripples of laughter following in its wake.) All over the WORLD, $cientology orgs gave up a weekend of body-routing and possible recruits to turn turtle and avoid a few SPs. More people were picketing Cedars than had ever done so before, and it was being repeated here and there about the globe. More people were picketing the CO$ at that moment than had ever done so before - and the number was only growing. Chalk it up as a BIG WIN, Davey boy. You've earned it.
From the reports about the world, it looks like this weekend was a total non-confront, but the fear was showing. The masters of Energy, Space, Time, OT powers, Body Thetans, and Dianetics were SHUT DOWN by maybe 100 people about the world. I hope to see a count of all the people who picketed this weekend, so we can see how big the worldwide picket really was.
DM, wgert, all the rest of you CO$ shills - We know the truth. Your neighbors in LA know the truth. Germany, France, Greece, Sweden, the Netherlands, Canada, Spain - They're all learning. All of your vaunted tech can't hide the truth. All your skullduggery and conspiracy can't hide the truth. And it's ALL coming out for the world to see. And we're not scared of you anymore. This weekend, the tables were turned, and anyone there could see it.
Finally I had to go. I was tired, I was limping, I was sore, I was out of film, and I felt that I'd done what I came to do. That and more. I headed wearily back to the hotel and my car, and then back to my friends out of town.
That's when things got weird again. I don't think anyone could say I didn't have a right to be a little paranoid. When I pulled off the freeway, I tried to keep an eye on all the cars that pulled off behind me, and see if any kept to the same turns I did.
Maybe 7 cars pulled off the ramp before I couldn't see it any more and was down the off-ramp and around the curve. Only 3 turned the direction I did. One of those made the next right. I made the next right after that, although I had miles to go before I was actually where I needed to be. One car followed. Interesting, but still, it could easily be coincidence. I made a turn into a subdivision. They were still behind me. another turn, another block and I pulled over to the curb as if to park. - They did too, jerkily, a few houses back, then made a u-turn to park facing away from me. By now I was thoroughly weirded out, but I didn't think they'd be hard to lose - so I punched the accelerator, whipped left around the corner, and away before they could turn around again.
No other vehicles were anywhere near after that, and I finished my drive to limp into the house, shower, and collapse. A day later (and a drive back to the Bay Area) I feel much better. I have to get the pictures developed! I've spent the rest of the day catching up on ARS and working out this long post. Ermine!