April 18, 1998 - Wulfen
My picket report for Saturday, April 18th.
Well, boy am I sore.. Aching, blistered, and sore. Outside a short stint in the militia, I have never walked that far in a single day. Where was I? Picketing the "Church" of $cientology!
I arrived at the gathering place at 9:50 AM, five minutes late.. Grr. Unpredictable public transit. Last time I was 20 minutes early. Missed Gregg Hagglund, Deep Wog, Artemis, Android Cat, and the dude with the cool cat sign (can't remember your handle, sorry). Walked past the Org once, and no-one inside even blinked. (Well, there was only one person inside at that time.) So much for the super-memory powers that you get when you're clear.
Well, after a few minutes, Gregg and the others showed up. Gregg was kind enough to lend me his sign while he went and got my old favourite ("Scientology destroys lives and minds" on one side, and the disconnection message on the other side).
I started picketing, and the (only) body router asked for a copy of the flyer I was proferring to passers-by. I gave her the flyer.. With Xenu on one side and the information about the criminal conviction on the other, it's perfect to get into an Org. She looked a bit enturbulated when I pulled another flyer out of my coat pocket. Maybe she hoped I only had the one? ;-) Well, speculation on my part.
The next (funny) incident went like this: I was passing by the front of Brothers Restaurant. That restaurant has the misfortune of being surrounded top and sides by the Org (occupies a bit of the same building). One of the Brothers (recognized him by his picture in the window) stepped out of his restaurant, and gestured for a flyer. When he got it, he shook his fist (with the flyer in it) at the $cientologists body routing in front of the Hubbard Dianetics Foundation, and then went back inside. Do the Brothers possibly not like the cult? Anyone who wants to find out why, ask Gregg Hagglund - he's the guy with the knowledge.
While I'm discussing the morning picket, it's worth mentioning that for the first few minutes, there were no body routers. None. No activity in the Org either. You would think that after the last picket's early start, they would have gotten a clue this time, and been a little more prepared. Certainly for the afternoon session, there was a little more theta coming out of the Org.
I also saw my first Sea Org members today.. A male around my age and a female several years older. They weren't in uniform at that time, but I saw the female in uniform later on. The male Sea Orger was running when I first saw him - he ran out of the Org and up the street. This led me to think he was in the RPF or something, but there wasn't any dirty grey rag in evidence.. Artemis mentioned that he was Sea Org.
As far as $cientologists in uniform, there was also (in the afternoon) a young girl wearing a "LRH Birthday Celebration" t-shirt. On a related topic, Artemis was wearing a Lisa McPherson t-shirt - I was asked about Lisa McPherson three times.
Well, closer to midday, the real events of the day started happening. The $cientologists started interfering with our picket - standing in the middle of the sidewalk (in an area I was trying to picket though), trying to get between picketers and the public, and generally being irritating. The body routers also brought out a table and put an e-meter on it, intending to get some passers-by on the e-meter (some later did, all e-metered people took anti-flyers).
At that point Gregg got irritated, and pointed out to them that they were interfering with our picket. In Toronto, as a public order measure (it's in a bylaw), a group can file a picket advisory which gives (for a short period of time) the right to picket an area exclusively. Well, Gregg had filed for the sidewalk in front of the Org, and the $cientologists were, by this and the other actions, interfering with our demonstration. Gregg pointed a few things out to them (didn't hear them too accurately, was giving Xenu flyers to supportive members of the public). At the end of this, the table was moved back to Org property, and the sidewalk was momentarily unblocked.
A bit after this, a passerby happened on the demonstration, and an unfortunate incident took place. I'll let the people who were closer to it explain how this guy got that irritated, but the upshot of it was that a $cientologist was blocking his path on the sidewalk (saw this) and ordering him to take a flyer ("take it"). The passerby stormed away, shouting very violent curses at the Org. Among his (many) suggestions was "firebomb them". Well.. This really got my goat. The kind of threats this man was spouting have no place in any society.
I, and the other picketers, are there to educate the public as to $cientology's abuses. We neither tacitly or openly condone nor commit violent acts in anything other than self-defence. In fact, I have had injuries like this idiot was suggesting be inflicted on $cientologists (in a past accident). Watching my own (3rd-degree) burnt skin slough off my chest ( small burn, the others were elsewhere) while on morphine to dull the pain is something I would wish on _absolutely_ no-one.
(And just as an aside, if I ever see him again he will get the full state of my thinking on exactly what it means to call for the infliction of traumatic injury on others. I just wish the police could have shown up earlier so they could have discussed the ramifications of what he was saying with him.)
(As another aside, I heard one of the body routers mutter "harrassment". A case of word clearing gone wrong? Harrassment is defined as "repeated and vexatious" in legal terms. So, this clown was shouting threats, not performing harrassment. Methinks she needs to look in a dictionary.)
Well, after this someone in the Org apparently phoned the police, because suddenly we had one - he proceeded into the Org with all due speed, and then came out and talked to Gregg Hagglund. Front the snatches of conversation that I overheard as I walked to and fro, they were discussing the picket advisory, and exactly what it allowed counter-demonstrators to do (no counter-demonstrating). He didn't seem to have a great clue as to the contents of the bylaw in question, because he told Gregg that the counter-demonstrators (the body blockers and the e-meter table) didn't have to move. ??? It's not funny when a police officer doesn't understand the law. On the other hand, the routers stayed near the Org when he took up station in the porch. ;-)
Then, we broke for lunch. Lunch was almost as interesting as the picket. On the other hand, I'm not going to talk about it without the permission of the involved individuals. You can use your souper-OT powers to find out what was said. ;-)
Well, after lunch there were two bicycle officers by the Org, waiting for Gregg. They had a long, involved discussion about the picket advisory. Again, Gregg seemed to be getting different versions of exactly what the bylaw allowed and didn't allow. Really, it is _very_ worrying when the police don't understand the law.
About this time, something else of note started happening: I ran out of flyers!! I ran out of flyers several times, and got more from Android Cat. Finally, he ran dry too and I got some more from Gregg. After I went through those, I got some more flyers from Gregg - but they were last picket's flyers! Yes, you heard it here - We handed out 400 copies (all we had) of a flyer detailing $cientology's criminal conviction in Canada. With the old flyer about the property tax evasion and the latest edition of Dyin'Ethics, estimates were that we passed out 800 flyers today. Not bad for an action that Rod Fletcher said "was only successful in that he accomplished to harrass the Scientologists and instigate hatred once again." (No, I didn't correct this for spelling. How could you tell? More need for word clearing on Rod Fletcher's part, mayhap?) Guess it really was a success, Rod. :-)
Now here, in my opinion, is the second most disturbing part of the picket (first being the obnoxious moron with the "firebomb" threat). A couple were reading Dyin'Ethics and some $cientology flyer in the porch of the Org (on the left of Brothers). Artemis went to talk to them. After a while, the police officer came over and told Artemis he couldn't stand on $cientology property. WHAT?? He was clearly on the public sidewalk. I was watching the whole time, and even if the entire entrance was covered by lasers they would only ever have tagged a small top corner of Artemis' sign. Artemis in no way was breaking any law, and the police officer hassled him for it. Artemis argued the point, but the officer wouldn't listen. They then went and discussed the matter with Gregg. A while later Artemis came and told the rest of the picketers that the officer had said that if we wanted to talk to people, we had to draw them over to the street, not by the Org.
Now really - what gives here? Artemis wasn't blocking the door by a long shot (no-one is fat enough to block that porch). He was talking to these people, and then the officer came and hassled him. Well..
The next time I picket the "Church" of $cientology of Toronto, here's the equipment I'm bringing:
1) A copy of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms,
2) A copy of the relevant bylaw on pickets and picket advisories,
(which I don't need, no-one needs a permit to picket in Canada, but for the purposes of having a picket advisory one would help,)
And if I can find one,
3) A copy of the city's assessment of exactly where the property line is at 696 Yonge Street.
And if any police officer gives me instructions which are outside the law, he's gonna get his own complimentary copy of the law. Just so we are all in agreement about which law applies during a protest. ;-)
Well, the rest of the picket was full of the usual curious people, people taking flyers, acks from passing cars and people. One thing bothered me, though - why do so many people think that I am a cultist? Do the sign, the flyers, and the stated "only criminally convicted church in Canada" line not give a broad hint? On the other hand, all these people were dead set against $cientology, so all is not lost.
On an unrelated note.. The day was also marked by popping balloons. The hairstylists' across the road had a string of balloons between their building and a lamppost. As the sun came across them, they popped as the air inside expanded. I lost count at 14 pops. ;-)
Well.. I figure I've written enough, so this gets posted now. If I remember anything else of significance, I'll post it here. Think I got everything, though. BTW, kudos if you read all this way. You can apply to the ARSCC (WDNE) for a +0.05 increase to your SP rating. ;-)