Los Angeles, March 13-15, 1998
Picket reports and pictures
Photograph courtesy of Tilman Hausherr.
LA 98 Picket -or- Twilight of the Dogs
an impressionistic picket report by Grady Ward
I flew down from Eureka, California to the Los Angeles Burbank Airport on Thursday, March 12. Although because of the bad weather at the San Francisco shuttle hub I had to take a later flight, I have been informed by ARSCC INTELL that Eugene Martin Ingram had been awaiting my arrival on the earlier flight videotaping all deplaning. Sorry I missed you Gene! I look forward to getting a more recent photograph of you and to submitting a new declaration to the Honorable Ronald M. Whyte that RTC "president" Warren McShane misled him when he said that Martin had been taken off my investigation (after Martin had been caught stealing photos from my mother and mail fraud. Keep up the good work!
I was met at the small Burbank airport by one of the more comely ARSCC operatives who took me to the temporary ARSCC staging area at the Day's Inn at 5410 Hollywood Blvd. While the motel was suitably seedy consistent with its proximity to the world center of scientology it served its purpose for picket staging, finding each other for Thai pot noodles and for impromptu coffee bar debriefs.
I set up my laptop and made sure the Motorola Talkabouts had fresh batteries and were on the proper frequency-tone pair (FRS 11-5), that the Olympus D-500L camera had fully recharged 1100 mAh NiCd's and its 8 Mb SSFDC memory cards were formatted and ready to go. Even with the pair of TCM-59V recorders, portable motion detector and the specially modified ham radio I only placed in the "niftiest useful technology" of the picket (that was easily topped by Paul Rubin with his wireless PC link to the net in which he could upload photos and real time pickets reports as he walked). I also brought some bicycle cabling and other security apparatus to thwart the smash-and-grab jobs which I was told Bob Minton and Stacy Young suffered earlier in the day.
As it turned out I took just the right amount of gear this time; not too much to drag me down. Each element played a useful role. The digital camera and PCMCIA link (along with software jpeg optimizer and autopost) were particularly useful in lending some immediacy to the visual picket reports. And ARSCC operative code named Brady Lard was able to make use of one of the Sony 59V with its automatic two side recording as he successfully infiltrated the LRH Birthday celebration on the evening of March 13, 1998 at the Universal Amphitheater. That the Right Reverend "police chaplain" Glen Barton walked within a few feet of him several times and the other cult "security" people were overhead to be following Jeff Jacobsen as he enjoyed the Universal park just added guffaws to the already bulging incompetence portfolio of Mr. Barton, liar and thug. But that's another story. In a few minutes of discussion a few had already figured out how to counter the massive planned commercial web spam plan disclosed by the cult at the Universal event.
Other than walking with a picket sign and passing out leaflets, my main goal this picket was to collect a lot of documentary photographs of our domination of the cult on its own home territory. I took took several hundred 1000x768x24 photos each of the picket days. (I uploaded compressed grayscale versions to alt.binaries.misc and alt.binaries.scientology; I understand that a special CD-R might be burned that can hold the full 60 Mb of my photos plus materials such as RealAudio videos from other documentors - more details as the plan gels.)
Anyway, the night of the 12th I met our far-flung correspondents from Germany and Sweden and from all places in the United States. At the request of the savagely carnivorous germans we went to the Sizzler restaurant that was within walking distance of the Motel on Hollywood Blvd. This began the first of many social get-togethers before and after the day's picketing. Dinner discussion ranged all over the intellectual spectrum and certainly did not dwell on the criminal cult. [Clifford Stoll: here is a graphic counterexample of your warnings of computer desocialization.]
Keith Henson had already taped up a picket sign to face the outside of his motel window and was practicing putting on his ARSCC disguise. I thought it was a geriatric Elvis disguise, but it seemed to be effective pitted against the keen intellects of the cult operatives like Rev. Glen "you'll be under arrest if you picket here!" Barton.
The morning of Friday, March 13, 1998 (LRH's actual birthday) we got up and straggled into the adjoining local coffee shop to share plans. The plan that seemed to get the most interest was to picket the Celebrity center in the morning and ASHO ("big blue") in the afternoon. A smaller group planned their Hemet pilgrimage to avoid the bad Los Angeles traffic. We all remarkably operated on a consensus principle or where to go and what to do. I for one would not be the one to tell anyone what "the" plans were, but despite our independence we must have a pretty good shared reality and relative tolerance to differing ideas. Things went remarkably smoothly considering the range of ages, interests, genders, and background.
The picket signs were secured to the light lathe permitted in Los Angeles, the Talkabouts were distributed and we car pooled to the Celebrity Centre. As remarked by others the cult planned to avoid confrontation by keeping their faithful inside and out of view. Of course since the CC was a hotel complex, there was still a lot of spontaneous cult "public" traffic. Precisely the public cult traffic that might have their eyes opened up to the covert abuses of their cult and the power through their dollars and fame to influence it. The CC has got to be an extremely effective place to picket and very hard for the cult to counter.
The CC buildings occupy about three-quarters of a full block. The west side is the main entrance for people, the east is the parking garage entrance and the south side has the service entrances. The north side has a vertical wrought-iron gate partially overgrown with vines that let us glimpse the occasional scientologist trying to obtain urban solitude and perhaps some temporary solace for what the cult was doing to his mind, body, and pocketbook. However, I suspect the mini "X" "E" "N" "U" signs bobbing up and down over the top of the iron slats did not lend to the restfulness that was being sought in the CC refuge.
As in the other accounts the word this year was "non-confront." Although LRH says that failure to handle a suppressive act is itself a suppressive act, we proved once again the inconsistency of the cult's own belief system. Other than the stray scientologist who may have shouted or even thrown a ceramic coffee mug or perhaps threatened Dieter L.with a burning cigarette (naturally it had to be a cigarette), the picketing went very peacefully. And although the LAPD had been primed by the criminal cult to distrust the "evil intentions" of the foreign agitators, we proved to them that we were peaceful and non-threatening.
After picketing until noon at the CC, we piled into the cars and vans and took some time to grab fast food. (The "fat burger" was actually quite lean and tasty.) There was plenty of parking space in front of the Big Blue center.
The old Cedars/Jewish hospital is sort of a scientology mall with the one-block Berendo renamed "L Ron Hubbard Way" being the main walkway of the mall. Here was various service organizations of the cult including Advanced Service, Sea Org Recruiting, and the Flag Pacific Liaison office where the uniformed sea borgers hung. The rear and upper stories of some of these buildings were a bit less savory looking with peeling paint and cardboard-stuffed filthy windows. I was told they were the barracks of the org slaves. An un-airconditioned dirty contrast to the public areas of the complex.
As we began our ASHO/Big Blue picket we had the only really significant confrontation of the entire weekend. Glen Barton, Luis Rodriguez and a couple of middle-aged PI's were lounging around the "street closed" barricades festooned with mylar helium birthday balloons. We were told in a pathetic attempt at "Tone 39" by Barton that venturing past the barricades down to Fountain Avenue would get us immediately arrested, even if we stayed on the sidewalk. While Barton was waving around his parade permit, the permit itself was noticeably silent on the topic of the sidewalk contrasted to the cult's reserved street.
While the police were supposedly consulting with their superiors on the scope of the permit, the report from Dennis Erlich was that picketing the sidewalk was legal until we were otherwise informed. I and a group started walking south to Fountain right past the barricades and a sputtering Barton was left fingering his cellphone in rage. I suspected the only "consultation" the police were going to do was to merely observe our picketing demeanor and make a decision from the field. Since of course we were completely peaceful and even smiling (after all, humiliating the cult is a fun thing to do) the three cruisers with half a dozen lounging officers quickly decided that no law was being broken.
Let us not underestimate the importance of this field determination in future actions in Los Angeles and elsewhere. Even though the police had been prepared with lurid stories of violence supposedly perpetrated by the critics, the LAPD first-hand in the field saw the truth. Moreover they now realize that the cult has been simply lying and distorting the truth in trying to enlist the police on their side. If the police in Los Angeles are coming to realize the truth, the cult is going to have a hard time anywhere in the United States to lie to the police about the completely peaceful protesters. Basically -- from the moment the officer said to me "I see no law broken here" - the Internet has won the streets from the cult.
And even this was not the high point of the weekend.
To me the highest point and the greatest point of inflection for the routing of the criminal cult came when Kha Khan's bold WWW.XENU.NET banner was unfurled with about half of the Internet and local picketers posing for a group photo right in front of the "American Saint Hill Organization" on L. Ron Hubbard Way on L. Ron Hubbard's birthday. For me this is the exact moment when the Internet has proved that its distributed intelligence and good will can turn back even the most seemingly organized Mafia-like cult.
Yeah. Maybe the cult can intimidate the IRS and can fellate Clinton with its Travolta hand-puppet, but the Internet in a dozen picket sites around the world showed that it can respond to free-speech threats by taking the speech right back to the central home territory of the cult itself. The lying and incompetence of the cult as instantiated in Glen Barton glared. He and the entire criminal cult of scientology he symbolized were completely humiliated and could do nothing better than barricade themselves inside on a fine spring day.
And yes, it was a lot of fun. Mark Ebner the Garbanzo journalist showed up and treated our street fair to a little Isaac Hayes. The NBC and German cable crew did interviews and marked the occasion for history. People brought fresh strawberries, spring water, and Xenu puppets. We had a good time on a beautiful spring day.
There were a lot of side trips such the required (at least once for the ARSCC faithful) two hour trip out to Hemet Gold base also known as the Nazientology theme park, and the partying down at Graham Berry's out in Santa Monica. Others got in cultural side trips to the new Getty Museum, Disneyland, the Santa Monica pier, and the LA courthouse(s).
People brought in some unusual beers and there were a lot of group get-togethers in motel rooms to do some telnetting on the laptops and to swap stories. There were all kind of people represented from middle-aged guys like me with the rural family to urban men and women in their twenties with colorful dyed hair who might have been lurkers to the cult attack on the Internet.
We had a great time and maybe even for an instant touched a moment of significance in the future of the Internet. As the culture of free speech and tolerance on the Internet boils out into the world of the mundane, the cult of ignorance and fraud is being flushed into the sewer of history. Good-bye Helena, good-bye David Miscavige, good-bye Eugene!
And hello pot Thai flamed gently over the scientology newsgroups with microbrewery beer dripping cold with the condensed tears of the vanquished cult.
A good picket. Just another ennobling weekend in downtown LA.
We had quite some fun today on L. Ron Hubbard Way this afternoon. The CoS cancelled their planned festivities totally. So we had the whole street for our picket alone.
During the morning we picketed the management headquarters on 6331 Hollywood Blvd, the FOLO on 6700 Hollywood Blvd. The Scientologists hid in the building all the time. And so it was as well on L. Ron Hubbard Way.
"Dieter" told me to post the following:
We were at the entrance of the CLO on L. Ron Hubbard Way with a woman who had a green bird on her shoulder. She was about 50 - 60. The discussion was about OT levels and she said she does not want to know, no, "N" - "O". I told her that scientology was about that she was possessed by space aliens. She went very angry and attacked me with her cigarette. I jumped back but also stopped her arm. I was not hurt. I got scared a lot because I was afraid that the green bird, the woman and a bicycle guard would now jump on me. Luckily, the bicycle guard stopped her and it ended well. There were several witnesses. She then moved to a building next door, at 1318 LRH way. I later asked some kids if the woman lives there, they said yes. Does anyone know her name?. Dieter
O.K. we showed up at ASHO and the street (L.Ron Flubbard Way) was closed and blocked off at both ends. Bob Minton and I are told by a church geek named Barton that the street is closed, that they have some sort of order, and that if we didn't leave that we would all be arrested. I said Yeah, right. I read the order which tured out to be a council order. It said that they had the "Street Closed" not the sidewalk, which is public property and their interference with pedestrian traffic would not be tolerated by us.
Also, he was a jerk about the whole thing. We walked down the street anyway to talk to two police officers that were already there, and Barton got on his cell phone and said to call the police and have us arrested. Fine call the cops we were walking towards them anyway. We met with Dennis Erlich about halfway down the street, he was wearing a $cientology Kills T-Shirt and then we all went over to the police. They said that the Sgt. was in charge and on the phone now to clarify the issue. We would protest until told otherwise We protested , we walked, we saw. They seemed to have told everyone to stay off of the streets, but we got plenty of pictures of everything. (will be webbed soon) More later...........the party's getting started. :-)
I was in the first group of picketers to arrive at the Cedars/ASHO/etc. complex on Friday afternoon. The Scientologists had blocked both ends of the street with the ugly name, so we proceeded up the sidewalk with Taniwha leading the way in serene disreguard of the 3 stooges dressed in LAPD/CIA drag. I followed behind him, with my wife videotaping. There was also a local ARS lurker with us who got a real baptism of fire. All the Co$ security were wearing the same style of black sunglasses, the kind with the slanted oval lenses that look like Xenu's eyes. Talk about restimulation. They must buy them by the case.
They waved paper in our faces claiming they had a permit to close the street. Taniwha pointed out we were on the sidewalk (duh!) and continued marching. They claimed the sidewalk was part of the street, I asked them to tell me when they were going to be driving so I could get far away. I also pointed out the private residences on the sidewalk and expressed doubt that they could block access. I also asked them to call the LAPD to clarify the situation. They made noises along the lines of "so you refuse to leave after we have shown you our permit", etc. and used their radios to loudly ask for "police backup". By this they meant Barton, if you can believe that. The picketers had to actually request officers.
I told the Co$ security guard that I suspected his uniform was _too_ close to impersonating an officer, and that when the real article showed up, I would get an opinion. We continued around the block, and I got the satisfaction of seeing the same guard coming out of a side door in jeans and workshirt. I yelled "Wogs at cause" at him.
As we came back around to the front side of the complex, we could see Barton and Minton and other picketers and Co$ staff in heated discussion. I am looking forward to posts from our side detailing the conversation.
After the LAPD finally arrived, and had time to contact their captain, we were told the sidewalk was public and open. The church cleared away all members who could not see the OT3/Xenu stuff without getting the "Stimulation of Hubbard's Interior Terror Syndrome" the dreaded S.H.I.T.S.
My greatest satisfaction was seeing (and taping) Leslie Duhrman, the OSA from Arizona who tried and failed to stop my hometown pickets. Glad I didn't miss seeing you this weekend, Leslie.
I will post more about the other picket sites later, this was the best part of the weekend for me. The Co$ fair planned for Saturday on LRH way was cancelled, since they could not bluff us off of the sidewalk. Wogs at Cause. I am looking forward to posts describing the Friday night picketing, during the bus loading for the Birthday Bash. BP