a picket at the San Francisco Scientology building
Suppressives: Peaches, phr, and me
Date/Time: 5/30/98, about 12:10 pm - 1:40 pm
Handouts: fliers ("Don't Be A Sucker", "Why I Picket", Lisa, Xenu), suckers, postcards
Weather: Beautiful! Mostly sunny and breezy ... perfect for a picket
Foot Traffic: Steady
Street Traffic: Steady
Scn Response: Mostly Non-Confront/Hiding
General Passerby Response: Favorable
Stats: 27 suckers w/ sucker fliers; 43 "Why" fliers; a few Lisa fliers and a Xenu or 2; 23 Attorney General postcards
(includes postcards and "Why" fliers I gave to phr and Peaches to distribute - these stats are mostly mine but not all mine)
Note: as I do NOT have perfect memory, any quotes below are very close paraphrases. I apologize for any inadvertent inaccuracies and will try to correct any errors that are pointed out to me.
It was a LOVELY day for picketing today, and Peaches, phr and I put in a good hour and a half at the San Francisco org. I ran out of "sucker" fliers and gave out a record number of "Why I'm Picketing" fliers (and a record number of Attorney General postcards, but since this is just the second time I've used them, that's not much of a record. Still - upstat!)
I had my usual sign (USING YOUR TAX $$$ TO DEFRAUD etc. / NO SCIENCE IN $CN / $CN DESTROYS FAMILIES), plus a bunch of "sucker" fliers and some postcards pre-addressed to the California Attorney General.
THE PRE-PICKET PICKET
The busses were running slow today so I walked. Two homeless people, a gentleman and a lady a block apart, both made approving comments about my sign. It's a shame $cn can't help them.
I stopped off at the library before the picket for a good look at "Intro to $cn Ethics" and to check out WIS, which I've never read before. As I approached the library a gentleman came up to me and said $cn is very big and very powerful and he admired my courage. He gladly took an AG postcard.
At the library, I had to check my picket sign. The three security guards I left it with seemed very interested in my message.
FAMILY DAY AT THE ORG
When I got to the org, there was no one body-routing and no stress test table set up, but there were about five Scientologists outside having a smoke. As we picketed, a fair number of people arrived (10? 15? 20? I wasn't really keeping track), including at least two youngish couples with their kids. (I think I counted four or five kids.) They did a pretty good job of ignoring us, although I smiled a friendly smile at them as usual and wished one a good afternoon and commented on the pleasant weather to another. Since I've never done a Saturday picket before, I don't know whether this is normal traffic for a Saturday, or whether it was a special event.
I generally don't pay much attention to the vehicles parked in the three spaces in front of the org, but it has occasionally seemed like SOMEBODY was parking (pickup-size) trucks there to make it harder to see us. Today, for the first time, I actually noticed someone park a truck in one of those spaces and go into the org. Someone mentioned to me that it's illegal to try to make it hard for the public to see us. Does anyone know if that's true? (I don't know that there's an actual pattern of Scientologists trying to hide us - and hey, if we end up in a condition of hiding because of this do we have to do conditions formulas? - but if it IS actually illegal, I might start paying more attention. Or maybe I'll just grow to Godzilla size.)
SAN FRANCISCO: A COSMOPOLITAN CITY
International visitors to San Francisco seem common at our pickets. One of the first people to get a flier from me today was from Germany. (In fact, we had another passerby later on who had lived in Germany for ten years, I think he said, although I think he was an American.) He was, of course, well aware of $cn's dark side.
Another gentleman talked with me for quite a while. He was from South Africa. Between his slight accent, his soft tone, and the passing traffic, I occasionally had trouble understanding him, but from what I heard he was also well aware of $cn's dark side. I believe he had come to visit the $cn org as part of his effort to learn about $cn, possibly for journalistic purposes - I think he said he was a journalist in South Africa. He looked carefully at my fliers (he got a "sucker", a "why", and a Lisa) and I THINK he was telling me he felt guilty going in and talking to the Scientologists now that I had given him my information. I assured him that I was sure he could be objective and that I thought it was good to get both sides of the story.
While we were talking, we were joined by a Sea Org lady, whom I shall refer to as Sea-Org-Lady, as I don't know her name. She came right up and joined our conversation - she had apparently talked with the South African gentleman before. He asked her what she thought of my sign (the side that was facing her was "$cn - using your tax $$$ to defraud the public, practice medicine illegally, harass critics in court). She read it and told him that $cn doesn't get any tax money. I explained to him that since $cn gets tax breaks nobody else gets, they're effectively being subsidized with our tax dollars, and that they abuse their non-profit status by lobbying. I also asked her whether Narconon got any tax money. She said she didn't think so, she didn't really know - an answer that transformed itself into a definite "no". I asked if she was sure, and she said she wasn't, but reasserted her "no" answer to the gentleman. I said I would have to look into it.
(Anyone? Are there any US states where Narconon gets tax money?)
She invited him inside, and they went into the org together. He and I had talked for perhaps five minutes and he had my fliers (I didn't see her try to take them away from him), so I think I had covered pretty much all the ground I could with him. I hope I someday find out what conclusions he ultimately drew from our competing information.
SMILE FOR THE CAMERA
A young gentleman, not dressed in Sea Org blues, pointed a disposable camera at me, so I stood still and posed for him. As soon as he snapped the picture I said "My turn!" and whipped out my disposable camera, but unfortunately he didn't pose for me, so my photo shows him turning to go back into the org.
(Sorry, Ted, it'll be years before I get these developed, but I'll put the photo on my page and point you to it when I do.)
I did get at least two negative comments today - well, one negative and one sort of non-committal (he said he was a Scientologist and he disagreed with me). The decidedly negative comment was "That's the biggest load of crap I've ever seen." I guess he and I didn't have much Reality together.
Another gentleman who took a flier told me he'd just bought a $cn book. I told him I thought that was great and I hoped he would have a good read - I thought it was important to get both sides.
On the plus side, I did get TWO actual honks-and-thumbs-up, one right after the other.
SWEETS FOR THE SWEET
I had my lollipops in a clear plastic bag again today, and once again, a number of people came up to get suckers from me. Others declined the candy but took the sucker flier and the "why" flier. All my takers showed a real interest in the fliers, even those who were attracted by the candy.
THE POST-PICKET PICKET
A friend of phr's came by just as we decided to head to the cafe for some liquids, so although she missed this picket, we're hoping she'll join us for a picket some other time. (Once again, one of the gentlemen who took my fliers expressed an interest in picketing with us. It's times like those I wish we had a set picketing schedule. I told him to email me, though, so I could let him know about upcoming pickets.)
The four of us had a nice little get-together, and then we dispersed. I had a good long chat with a woman at the bus stop (she said she was from New Orleans and that no one ever pickets anything there - I wonder if she ever gets over to Berkeley?) (Berkeley is has even more activists than San Francisco, but then you probably knew that already). She didn't know much about $cn other than the names of a few celebs, but she seemed quite interested in the info I gave her, asking a lot of good questions.
Another gentleman asked me what was wrong with $cn and I got to give him my fliers and my spiel (augh! it's a german word!). He asked me if I spent all my time protesting and I assured him that it's a very small part of my very full life.
For some reason, I made extra-sure I wasn't being followed after I left the picket today. I'm sure the $cn powers that be consider me too inconsequential to bother harassing me, and I'd like to think they've learned not to harass people anyway, but better safe than sorry.
Definitely time for a new sign, if I can just get over to the art supply store.
This page was last updated on May 8, 1999.