Scientology Crime Syndicate

CW-99 picket report: the entheta truck
dst@cs.cmu.edu (Dave Touretzky)
8 Dec 1999

Boy do I love visiting Clearwater! I went to both the March 1997 (clams blow out our candles) and December 1997 (clams shout "Sid Klein, what's your crime?") pickets, but sadly had to miss CW-98 (clams tear up the sidewalk and hide) due to work constraints. I'd therefore been looking forward all year to attending CW-99. And it was well worth waiting for! I haven't laughed so hard in ages.

I arrived in town on Friday evening and met up with Jeff Jacobsen, Steve Hassan, and a bunch of other SPs at the Holiday Inn. Jeff wanted to go photograph the RPFers scrubbing orange dots off the sidewalk, in compliance with the police chief's order, so he and DonNOTs and I set out for downtown, cameras in hand. We took a few photos and walked around, doing reconnaisance. We checked out the Ft. Homicide and the Clearwater Bank building before heading down by the Sandcastle.

The Sandcastle is a low-slung hotel (not 8 stories like the Ft. Harrison) where the OT-level courses are taught. There is shrubbery around the periphery, but this year the clams had erected an entire second tier of shrubbery to block the view of Drew Street and the sidewalk where picketers might be marching. And for good measure, they'd torn up the sidewalks as well. However, they had not torn up the little bit of pavement that formed the entrance to the Sandcastle parking lot, since that was the only way in or out.

Across the street from the Sandcastle is a little park that adjoins the Clearwater Public Library. The sidewalk on the park side of Drew street was not torn up, but someone marching on that sidewalk would not be visible from the Sandcastle grounds due to all the shrubbery the clams had installed. I also noticed that there were parking spaces on that side of the street -- with no meters, and no signs indicating any parking restrictions.

That's when I got the idea to park a pickup truck across the street >from the Sandcastle. If we sat in the bed of a parked truck, we could not be ordered to "keep moving" as if we were picketers on a sidewalk. And anyone entering or leaving the Sandcastle would have to go right by us. There were plenty of empty parking spaces that night, but we figured they'd all be taken by time we returned in the morning. So DonNOTs and I formed a plan.

Returning to the Holiday Inn, we found an SP willing to loan us her rental car. I'll call her Frau X. DonNOTs and I drove it back to the Sandcastle and parked it in the very best space, just opposite the apron leading into the Sandcastle parking lot. Jeff picked us up and we sped off, giggling.

The next morning, DonNOTs and I got to work. First we visited a rental car place and explained to them what we wanted the pickup for. Because we were afraid the truck might be vandalized, we wanted all the insurance they had to offer. No problem. They wished us well.

Next we went shopping for supplies: duct tape, building materials, wine glasses, acrylic paint, plastic lawn furniture, and a few dozen soft drinks. After a quick run by the Holiday Inn to fill up a wastebasket with ice, we set off with Frau X in our "entheta truck" for the Sandcastle.

When we got there, we were amazed. CoS had rented 7 humongous U-haul trucks. Five of them were now taking up free parking spaces on Drew Street, thereby blocking large chunks of the sidewalk from view. Two more were positioned in the Sandcastle parking lot, to obstruct the view of the parking lot entrance from the hotel. But in the very best parking space, the one right across from the Sandcastle, sat our little rental car, dwarfed by the U-Hauls.

We brought the pickup truck up close, pulled the rental car out of its spot, and swallowed hard. With two huge U-hauls flanking our space, it was going to be very tough squeezing the truck in there. But just then, Peter Alexander (ex-OT7, now a prominent Tampa SP) happened by in his Jaguar. Among his other talents, Peter is a professionally trained driver. He backed the truck in for us and positioned it perfectly. (Later on, one of the cops who stopped by wondered how we got it in there. That's how tight it was.)

DonNOTs, Frau X and I then got to work setting up our entheta truck. The first order of business was to mount a 5 foot high inflatable green space alien in the open driver's side window -- sort of like a pirate ship hoisting the jolly roger. Once the Sandcastle security folks realized there were SPs off the starboard bow, we began to see some activity. Someone came out to videotape us. The clambots were not at all amused; one of them muttered something about "the urge to maim" into his cell phone as he reported on our activities. And in a response that must have been born of sheer panic, they repositioned one of the U-hauls to completely block off their own parking lot! Several fancy cars, presumably carrying wealthy publics, drove down Drew street expecting to turn in to the Sandcastle, only to stop short at the apron and be turned away by a guard. This went on for at least 10 minutes before cooler heads prevailed and the parking lot was reopened.

Someone was surely in deep trouble over this failure to adequately secure the parking spaces. We speculated about possible penalties as we put the sodas on ice. They were going to have to live with us today, because we'd gotten the jump on them fair and square, and the U-Haul tech just wasn't going to work.

Over the next hour, in full view of the clams, we constructed a large sign saying "Ron is Xenu", and installed it in the bed of the pickup, facing the Sandcastle. We set up two chairs and a table in the bed as well. Then we constructed an even larger sign (about 7 feet wide by 4 feet high, on styrofoam board) that said "Why Are You Hiding?" and mounted that on the side of the truck. We also had several ordinary size picket signs saying "Scientology Kills", "Stop Hurting People Scientology", and "Scientology: Tax Parasite UFO Cult". All of this was unavoiably visible to anyone with business at the Sandcastle.

We broke out the wine glasses, sat back in our lawn chairs in the bed of the truck, and toasted the traffic coming into and out of the parking lot. Clams tried hard not to look. Civilians driving by honked and waved.

DonNOTs had all kinds of fun "communicating" with the Sandcastle clientele, offering them free sodas from "Xenu's enthetamobile." No one accepted, but a few were polite enough to say "No thanks." OTs mostly averted their eyes; those with less self control gave us the finger. But when Gregg Hagglund loaned us a bullhorn, things really got fun. DonNOTs ragged the clams mercilessly. "Attention all OTs. Xenu loves you. And Ron is Xenu. Thank you. That is all."

They complained to the police that we were shouting obscenities, but when a patrol car came by, DonNOTs told the officer that he wasn't using any bad language, just saying "Ron is Xenu". She drove off. But the clams kept complaining; another officer said they were calling every 10 minutes. So eventually we had to lay off because of noise complaints (Don had that thing cranked up pretty loud.) But we'd already made our point. Wogs at cause. No OTs here.

Later in the day I went out for provisions and we had a little pizza party in tbe back of the truck. Warrior and Mirele and a few other folks dropped by for the festivities. It was basically a "mock Scientology" tailgate party. We placed one wine glass on the lip of the truck bed -- for display purposes -- and taped it down so it wouldn't fall over. Someone filled it with soda.

Around 6:30 we threw the big styrofoam sign in the bed of the truck, locked up the lawn furniture and other equipment in the cab, and walked over to the Ft. Harrison for the Lisa vigil, leaving the truck behind.

After the vigil about 30 of us went out to dinner at Ottavio's. Wonderful food. And Bob Minton was kind enough to pick up the check. Before heading back to the hotel, we did a quick swing by the Sandcastle to check on the truck. Everything was in order. We left it there over night; we had more fun planned for tomorrow.

The next day we headed back to the Sandcastle, wondering what we'd find. Another car of SPs reached the truck before we did, and they radioed to us that all was fine. Perhaps the clams had decided that vandalism was beneath them. Or more likely, they thought the truck, with the weird wine glass taped to the side, was some kind of trap. Knowing that CoS was monitoring our transmissions, we radioed back, "Do not disarm the device! We'll be there shortly."

The truck was indeed exactly as we left it. So we hauled out our equipment and resumed partying. This time it was DonNOTs, gypsyblue, and me, with guest appearances by numerous other SPs, including Tilman, mirele, Bob and Stacy, Jesse Prince, and the hilarious Xenu babies. We hung the 5 foot inflatable Xenu from a big stick (about 8 feet long) and dangled it in the air, waving it about. I put on the Xenu costume (the famous one that's in all the pictures). We waved at traffic. We hung out. There was a band playing in the park, so we danced to the music. We offered free sodas to the OTs. DonNOTs asked one guy "What's your case level, Sir?", to which he replied "What's yours?" I told him, "I'm an SP4, and this guy next to me is an SP5." I don't think he was familiar with that part of the Bridge.

One thing that really amazed me was the effect we had on FLAG van traffic. When we first arrived the day before, there were lots of FLAG vans coming and going all over the place. But as soon as our operation became evident, the van traffic on Drew street almost ceased. I think we saw only about 3 vans turn down Drew Street all day on Sunday.

Around 2pm it was time to shift to the next phase of our operation. We disassembled the entheta truck, laid the foam sign on the floor of the bed for cushioning, and prepared to go into "mardi gras" mode. We mounted the picket signs on the sides of the truck. DonNOTs told the clams we were leaving and asked them to move the U-Haul so we could pull out, which they did. Gypsyblue and mirele got in the bed along with me, wearing the Xenu costumen Gypsy held on to the inflatable space alien. DonNOTs took the driver's seat. It was time for a one-car parade!

We drove around downtown Clearwater, waving at our fellow picketers, at people on the street, people in cars, and a bunch of unhappy clams. When the cops got a load of us you could see them trying hard not to laugh out loud. Every time we drove by the side of the Ft. Harrison we saw people huddled behind the gate waiting for a van to arrive; no one was allowed to walk on the street. Sometimes we'd drive up while a van was loading or unloading, so we'd have to stop behind it and wait. And we'd call out "No OTs Here!" Or, "Xenu loves you!"

After a couple of hours of this, we parked the truck right outside the back door of the FLAG Renovations office, across the street from the parking lot where all the FLAG vans live. And we got out and walked around Cleveland street for half an hour. I was still wearing the Xenu costume, waving to people and having a blast. People did double-takes. Cars honked. Fellow picketers stopped to chat. Clam publics tending the faux-Christmas celebration scowled at us.

Finally at 4:30 we called it quits and headed back to the truck. Again, it was untouched. I took off the Xenu costume and we drove back to the Holiday Inn. But we were still getting honks and thumbs-up from other cars, because we'd left the picket signs attached. An SP's work is never done.

What did we accomplish, besides some audacious partying? I think we sent a few powerful messages to the OT-wannabes that weekend. First, that wogs can mock Scientology with impunity, and enjoy themselves immensely while doing it. Second, despite their miraculous OT abilities and big OSA budgets, Scientology couldn't outsmart a couple of "joker and degrader" SPs with a rented pickup truck and $26 worth of plastic lawn furniture. Third: that an organization that panics so badly at the sight of a picket sign that it forbids its staffers to walk the streets, requiring that all travel be done in vans with blacked-out windows whose routes constantly change to avoid "entheta", is an organization that is totally at effect and panic-stricken. And these are supposed to be the folks who are clearing the planet??? It's got to be hard to maintain that belief in light of this weekend's total humiliation. Expect more staff to blow over the coming weeks as this sinks in.

Conclusion: in a rigorous field test, the Mark I entheta truck proved itself to be a versatile communication tool. Further refinements are already in development.

Wait until they see what we have planned for next year.

-- Dave Touretzky, KoX (SP4.9): fearless NOTs Scholar extraordinaire.


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