a series of pickets at 5 Scientology locations in the San Francisco Bay Area:
San Jose (Winchester), Mountain View, Palo Alto, Redwood City,
and San Francisco
Suppressives: just me
Date/Time: 6/29/98, various times between 1 pm and 9 pm
Handouts: fliers ("Don't Be A Sucker", "Why I Picket", criminal allegations, Lisa, Xenu), suckers, Attorney General postcards
Weather: sunny and warm, cooling to chilly and windy
Foot Traffic: minimal most places, light in Palo Alto and San Francisco
Street Traffic: steady most places, lighter in Palo Alto
Scn Response: none in San Jose or Redwood City, watched in Mountain View, possibly watched in Palo Alto, pleasantly ignored in San Francisco
General Passerby Response: favorable
Stats: 10 suckers and 17 sucker fliers; 16 "Why" fliers; 7 Lisa fliers; 4 Xenu fliers; 7 Attorney General postcards; 4 "is $cn breaking the law" fliers
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 5-org kind of day. ;-)
I had a rare opportunity to visit several $cn orgs in one day. Business brought me down to the South Bay, but unlike my usual trips down there, I had large chunks of the afternoon free. I had originally planned one or two lunchtime pickets, but when I realized how close the Palo Alto and Redwood City orgs were, I decided to stop by there as well. Finally, as I returned to the city, I impulsively (there's that reactive mind at work) decided to drop by the San Francisco org to bring the total visits up to 5.
THE PRE-PICKET PICKET
I didn't have the opportunity to walk to my pickets or distribute fliers on the bus, but I did mention my picketing to a couple of my business contacts (both of whom I have a good, friendly relationship with). I gave them fliers and explained my concern over the Introspection Rundown and the medical claims. One of them took the fliers to lunch with him and planned to share the information with his lunch companions. The other one discussed $cn with me over our lunch together. She had seen the Dateline segment but otherwise knew very little about $cn.
NOT EXACTLY WINCHESTER CATHEDRAL
My first stop was a post-lunchtime picket in San Jose. I'd been to the big San Jose org on Rosemary a couple of times, but I'd never been to the Winchester location. I've read in other picket reports that there's more street traffic on Winchester, which appealed to me, so I decided to check it out.
I had my nifty new sign with clear pockets (and changeable messages). For today's pickets, I had:
IS SCIENTOLOGY BREAKING THE LAW?
in great big letters, with specific allegations in smaller lettering below. On the other side, I had:
DID SCIENTOLOGY STANDARD TECH KILL LISA MCPHERSON?
ASK SCIENTOLOGY ABOUT THE INTROSPECTION RUNDOWN
WHY DOES SCIENTOLOGY LIE ABOUT THEIR MEMBERS?
The Winchester org is in a little office building. I did a car count, but then noticed a sign announcing new hours: 7 - 10 pm on weeknights, and 10 - 5 on Saturday. No Sunday hours. I thought they were supposed to have Sunday services?
Among the other tenants in the office building is an Allstate agent. Are there still any links between $cn and Allstate?
There was practically no foot traffic, but there were a lot of cars going by. I saw many, many people reading my sign as they waited for the traffic light to change.
There were a handful of construction workers working at the corner. A couple of them read my sign and gave me approving nods or waves.
Toward the end of my picket, a gentleman appeared and asked why I was picketing. I gave him some fliers and answered his questions. It looked like he lived just a few doors down from the org. While he and I were talking, a young lady walked by and muttered something - I couldn't tell if she disliked $cn or my picketing.
I was at the Winchester location from about 2:20 until about 3:10.
NEXT STOP: MOUNTAIN VIEW
After a little more work, I headed over to the Mountain View org. I think this was my third visit.
As usual, there was very little foot traffic. The gentleman who spoke with Brent and me on our Thursday picket talked with me some more, but I think he was more interested in picking me up than in my picket. ;-)
I was curious whether this org had hours posted, like the Winchester org, so I walked into the parking lot to see what I could see. Two of the org's three big windows have the blinds drawn, but the main window, where the door is, had the blinds up, showing a big display of books for sale, and a receptionist behind a counter. I didn't see any hours posted anywhere. I went back to the sidewalk to resume picketing.
A young girl (maybe 10? somewhere between 8 and 12, probably) came up the sidewalk. I asked if she wanted a sucker, and she said yes, and I asked if I could give her a flier to go with it, and she said okay. She started eating the sucker and reading the flier as she walked away - right over to the org. She stopped and looked at me, then back at the flier, read some more, then went inside. I wish I would have known she was a Scientology kid - I wouldn't have offered her a flier if I had known. (I typically don't offer fliers to adults that I know are Scientologists either. I'm not out there to enturbulate Scientologists, and those that do want my fliers, like Darlene and Gail, seem to have no trouble asking for them.)
Not long after, the receptionist came out and stood outside the door, apparently watching me. (She was a black lady - evidence of at least one black person among Bay Area Scientologists.) During the rest of my picket there, a few other people hung around outside, possibly watching me. (I'd never seen anyone outside the org on either of my other two Mountain View pickets - no smokers or anything.) The girl who took my sucker flier periodically went inside and came back out.
At one point, someone in a passing car felt compelled to respond to my sign (IS $CN BREAKING THE LAW?) by leaning out the car window and yelling, "YES! THEY ARE!" and waving and honking.
After a while, the receptionist went back inside.
Iive been thinking I should stop jaywalking so much, so I carefully crossed at the corner before and after the picket.
I was at the Mountain View org from about 4:45 until maybe 5:45 pm.
NORTH TO PALO ALTO
My next stop was in the lovely city of Palo Alto, home of Stanford University. It was an extremely pleasant place to picket - gorgeous weather, a pretty street, nice people. It was a little off the beaten path, so there wasn't a lot of foot traffic, but there was definitely more than anyplace I've picketed so far except San Francisco.
I originally thought $cn was in nice digs - the first thing I saw was a nicely appointed office, with little tables, all empty. However, I soon realized that this was a neighboring business. The $cn offices were up a flight of stairs, with no windows directly facing the street (that I could see). My first flier-taker was a gentleman who was very interested in cult-like groups, and had a special interest in the RCP (Revolutionary Communist Party, he told me). We chatted for quite some time. I told him about Lisa, and about the medical claims, and gave him an Attorney General postcard.
While we were talking, a second gentleman came up, and we talked some more. He took a Xenu flier along with the Lisa, Sucker, and Why fliers I gave him.
Picket, picket, picket.
A young lady came out of the org and sort of leaned against a tree. I greeted her, and she greeted me back. Then she dashed back up inside. A while later, she came out again, and ran off across the street and through the public parking lot, reappearing several minutes later. It occurred to me to wonder whether she might be on some form of RPF - she was dressed in dark blue, and seemed to be running everywhere - but she seemed pretty high on the tone scale, and did speak to me, so apparently not.
Picket, picket, picket.
A number of people in the neighboring businesses came out and asked why I was picketing, and took fliers. I'm not sure how many of them even knew there was a $cn org right next to them.
A trio of young gentlemen - probably high-schoolers - drove up, parked, and went into the org. Not too long after that, they were back outside. They sat on a stoop across from the org and talked for pretty much the rest of the time I was there. Near the end of my picket, one of them had gone back into the org, but a young lady drove up, parked, and joined them. They seemed very much like any other young people, except that they all seemed to have clean white office-type shirts on. They seemed to be avoiding looking at me and my sign most of the time.
None of the Scientologists I saw at the Palo Alto org displayed any compunction about jaywalking, so in that regard, at least, they don't seem to be any more ethical or concerned about legal behavior than I am.
The picketing in Palo Alto was so pleasant that I almost didn't want to leave, but I did want to see what the Redwood City org looked like, so I finally left. I wished the young folks on the stoop a good evening, and one of them replied, "See ya." Comm! Nice kids.
I was at the Palo Alto org from, oh, 6:10 until maybe 7:00.
ONWARD: REDWOOD CITY
I hopped back on the freeway and made it to Redwood City in a matter of minutes. The Redwood City org is in one of those little blocks of office buildings that looks like apartments. The other tenants are businesses, too, but the exterior reminds me more of apartments than offices. There were, IIRC, TWO Allstate offices at the same location. Hmm.
Since the actual office was so far off the street (and not readily visible from the sidewalk), I didn't go look for the office to see if hours were posted.
There was practically no foot traffic here - a few bicyclists rode by, and the young couple who walked by declined my fliers. A lot of drivers and people in passenger seats read my sign, though. A cab driver even pulled over to ask about my picket. He took some fliers and sounded very interested.
It was VERY windy in Redwood City, and as the sun set, it got chillier, so I took off.
I was at the Redwood City org from about 7:20 until maybe 7:50 pm.
NIGHT PICKET IN SAN FRANCISCO
By the time I got to San Francisco, I was pretty tired, but the lovely colors of the sunset hitting the fog rejuvenated me, and I knew it would probably be a long time before I had a chance to visit so many orgs in one day, so on a whim, I decided to put in a token appearance at the San Francisco org.
Apparently, I got there just as the evening class students were taking their break. I counted 17 Scientologists standing around in front of the org! Most of them were not smoking, that I could see, just standing around talking. They seemed in very good spirits, and their spirits seemed quite undampened by my appearance.
Despite the late hour, there was still some foot traffic, and I gave out a few fliers.
About seven minutes after I got there, everyone went back inside. I picketed for another minute or two, but it was getting downright cold, so I left.
I was at the San Francisco org from about 8:40 until about 8:50.
It was an excellent day of picketing, and it was fun to visit the different orgs and compare them.
I wonder if the other Bay Area critics might like to get together for a Saturday org tour? We could visit ALL the Bay Area orgs, including Los Gatos and the other San Jose location (I hope Darlene wasn't disappointed that I didn't come picket on Rosemary). We could even carpool, cutting down on smog.
It feels like a long time since I've put in a good San Francisco picket, though, so perhaps I'll do that next.
This page was last updated on May 8, 1999.