Saturday, May 10, 2008

Today's protest (crosspost from Enturb)

I know Miss Anon wanted to update the blog, but I figured I'd post something since I went to all the trouble of putting together an enturb post. Also, she's not online yet. She can fill in any details I may have missed.

Enturb post at: http://forums.enturbulation.org/103-usa-east-coast/pittsburgh-pa-13349/#post241985

Text:

I just got back from the Pittsburgh protest (still wearing part of my suit). This one went a little less smoothly than previous ones, though through no fault of any Anon's.

Basically, this one local business owner had decided somehow that Anon was losing him a whole ton of money (for one day a month every month...), and so took it upon himself to oust us from our position across from the Scientology building. At first, he actually came up to us, and asked (not very politely, even at first), that we leave. When we declined and explained to him that we were allowed to be where we were, as long as we didn't block foot traffic, he said, and I think I'm directly quoting here, that if we didn't leave "shit was going to get fucking ugly". At this point, we actually called the police, since that sounded like a threat, but they directed us to the emergency number, and we didn't really feel like it was urgent enough to warrant calling 911. I should also note here that we were being exceedingly careful to only stand in front of unoccupied buildings - we were not in front of this guy's store, just near it.

About this time, an officer (off-duty, I believe) showed up at the Scientology building, as has been usual here. One of our anons went and talked to him for a while, both about Scientology (they showed him the "Anonymous Exposed video, he was confused"), and about the guy who'd been threatening us. He was pretty understanding, and I think when the storeowner tried to talk to him, he basically told him that we were completely in our rights to be there.

The problem was the second officer that showed up, a few hours later, almost definitely called in by the storeowner. I don't want to get into a "fuck the police" type rant, because the vast majority of the police we've had involved in the Pittsburgh protests have been good people and understood what we were doing and what our rights were, but this guy was a bit of an ass, and seemed pretty misinformed as to what we were actually allowed to do. He claimed that we were blocking the sidewalk, and that we were affecting the local businesses, so we had to leave. The first claim would have been legitimate if it were true, but we had left a very wide lane for pedestrians, and were very careful about not blocking foot traffic after a few previous instances (where the cops had been a lot more understanding). The second claim was ridiculous, and had no legal basis. The sidewalk's city property, we had every right to be there, and they can't kick us out just because the businesses claim we're losing them money. The officer made it sound like we basically weren't allowed to protest anywhere because no matter where we went, it would affect some business.

Since we didn't want any legal trouble, we did start moving, and some of us ended up calling the police department again to make sure of our rights. They told us that yes, we were allowed to protest, but apparently we had to keep moving (something that we had never been told before, the past 3 protests had been stationary across from the Scientology building). So, it turned into a walking protest. While this was a little more tiring, it did let us distribute more fliers, and may not have been that bad in the end. After we started moving, we had no more trouble from the police, excepting one group being stopped for apparently looking like terrorists or something (yeah, I'm not really sure what was up with that). As an extra bonus, some anons got the plate number of the jerk cop's car, and apparently some storeowner may have got a video of some anons being harrassed by him, which may pop up on YouTube at some point.

Other than that whole legal mess, I think it was generally a successful protest. Numbers were a bit down from last time, but that's to be expected with colleges letting out and such. Chuck Beatty did stop by and give us some signs, which was pretty awesome. It seemed like we had a good deal of interest from passersby, too, and we got a lot of fliers out there. I'm still hoping that we'll be able to clear up this business with the police, and return to stationary protests across from the Scientology building in the future, but this time around, all the anons handled the problems with the police in a very mature fashion, and I'm proud that we didn't actually get cited for anything despite all the issues we had.

Pictures sometime when I offload them from my camera.

tl;dr: Jerk storeowner, questionable cop, and legal confusion forced us to become a moving protest, but it was still overall good

8 comments:

RememberX2 said...

I had left after asking the cop if we could just walk, girlfriends idea not mine. But i did want to know how long u walked for and when the bill of rights nonsense is cleared will you please make a post about its decision

Xenu said...

I personally probably left at about 3:30 or so, but there were still people walking at that point. We'll definitely look into exactly what our rights are here, and post when we figure it out. I really do think that we have every right to stay there, since we did that for the past 3 protests with no problems.

anon4justice said...

Ran this all past my retired cop Dad and he agrees that we had every right to be there. We were not blocking the sidewalk - even the jerk store owner was able to march back and forth through while he was trying to stir up trouble. We were not making any noise.

Nick's Imports - where First Amendment rights mean less than a buck.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, fuck some guy trying to run a business. Who cares about his shitty life when moralfags from GameFAQs want to protest a legitimate religion?!

CAPITALIST PIG

Anonymous said...

^HAHAHAHAHA I SEE WUT U DID THAR!

Xenu said...

Sure, the argument can be made (and in a much less retarded way, too, though it might be tough to be more retarded) that our protest is less important than his business and all that. If we were going to put him out of business or something, it'd be reasonable. But, we're not. We're there one day a month, and I don't think we're losing him nearly as much business as he claims. Anyway, we're exercising our first amendment rights on government property, and since this is America, he's got to deal with that.
If you want to argue that anything run on government property that interferes with business shouldn't be allowed to go on, you're essentially destroying a whole lot of the first amendment.
Then again, I figure you're just trolling anyway, in which case please don't come back. Actually, just don't come back anyway, unless you're willing to make an argument at at least a middle-school level.

Miss Anonymous said...

Yes, and it also needs to be pointed out that had this shop owner approached us in a way that invited negotiation rather than a call to the police to report his threats, we probably could have worked something out that would protect his business' traffic. Already, we'd been brainstorming ways to avoid obscuring any of the stores in any way -- splitting up the group so that a few could stand in front of the abandoned building with a wide berth of sidewalk for people walk past on and the rest on intersections where no active business was located.

However, when only four of us were there, probably a good 30-40 feet away from his property, he approached us and made threats. If that's how you're going to run a legitimate business, you're probably going to fail at the capitalist game regardless of who protests in the general vicinity.

And, in yet another way, his own behavior on the day of the protest is costing him business. An anonymous someone had actually been planning to work with this store owner on e-commerce stuff, but after hearing about this (he's been attending protests but didn't witness the threats) has decided that he no longer wants to do business with him.

Also, a fun fact: if you want to be really nitpicky about Pittsburgh city law, soliciting or selling anything on the sidewalks is technically illegal. Nick's Imports and the other business that complains about us regularly put out tables of merchandise on the city-owned sidewalks near their stores and sell it to customers on nice days. What they do on the sidewalk is less legal than what they managed to stop us from doing. One of the stores places signs right in the middle of the sidewalk, which may also constitute an obstruction.

ManySigns said...

Hey guys, sorry I wasn't able to make it, I just moved recently and didn't have money to spare for gas (and my internet was only just hooked up a little bit ago, which is why I haven't been around the past couple weeks). We had the same problem from the guy when we showed up for the mini-raid two weeks before. There were three of us, standing in front of an abandoned building, and he came out and really started harassing us and getting real hostile and telling us that if we weren't gone/across the street in five minutes he would be calling the cops, because we'd cost him $300 each day we'd protested. Sounds like the same bullshit again. And the thing is, if the store owners had approached us politely, without hostility, we would have given them our full cooperation without hesitation. I think that really needs to be stressed to them in the future, if this continues to be a problem.