Here’s an update on the whole ‘bum’ sticker controversy.
Wednesday, June 23rd in front of The Black
- I started to write up a summary of what happened the other day in front of The Black but ended up deleting a lot of it. (It had been such a challenging two hours out there in front of a crowd, I almost didn’t want to relive it again by blogging about it. So, here’s an abbreviated version.)
- We held our protest for Wednesday, the 23rd, as we had called a boycott of that store. Over the course of the two hour protest and picket, twenty people joined us in asking people not to shop there and to sign our petition. Others in the crowd were supportive, some came by and said, “I’m with you.”
- During the protest, as some in the crowd got nasty and yelled at us, fifty people approached us and signed our petition asking The Black to quit selling the dehumanizing ‘bum’ stickers and other merchandise with the same logo.
- During this protest, the anger and hatred that we experienced directed at us was astonishing. A very vocal segment of the crowd got emotional with us. We gave them a target, and man, did they focus their anger on us and on me personally. It is now easier to see how people hate – not why – but if we caused so much anger, I can see how this anger is directed at homeless people. One of our bloggers commented that she felt more threatened by this crowd than she ever did by the homeless in OB>
- There is a new urber-localism; we’ve seen it at hot surf spots where locals will actually put up a sign saying “Locs only.” Edwin Decker, the columnist for CityBeat and OB resident, found a violent form of this “localism” at a local bar. Go here On Wednesday, we saw and heard it. Unless you are living in OB this very day, you have no right to an opinion. I was criticized for not living in OB – as I was forced to move out a year ago due to economic factors. I still own a business in Ocean Beach (this blog – although I didn’t say it was a profitable business) and due to my participation in this community over four decades, I certainly have a right to speak… and more. Yet, most business owners on Newport Avenue do not live in Ocean Beach. Many of the people who work in OB don’t live here. The cops, the teachers, the firefighters, the lifeguards – they all don’t live in OB. In fact Newport Ave businesses thrive on the out-of-town visitors, you know, the tourists. And the people who come to OB for things like the Farmers’ Market.
- In contrast to the extreme localism, the sticker’s message is not playing well in Preoria. The story went national last weekend, and most versions are fairly negative toward the Black and the attitude the sticker represents.
- The police estimated that there had been a 100 people congregating or protesting at the site in front of the renowned headshop.
- There was no physical violence, despite the awful report by 10News. I never felt physically threatened in terms of my own safety. There were heated words certainly, lots of emotion, finger-pointing, sign-waving (even in my face), some yelling, a prayer, a little crying, but no violence.
- The best coverage was by Fox 5 – see here. (Watch the video with Ryan Flores.)
- I did feel harassed, was bumped into intentionally a couple of times, I had opposing signs shoved in my face several times, including while I was being interviewed by a TV reporter (the woman who did that had a sign that said “Freedom of speech” ). And certainly I was verbally harassed, as were all of us. One of our protesters was brought to tears by this one particular guy who played an especially irksome role during the entire event, getting in all of our faces. He’s the guy with his own sign that read: “Everybody sucks but me.” Nice guy.
There is still media attention on the issues that we have raised.
- I was on KOGO 0600AM this morning with Chris Franklin. It was only for about 7 minutes but he does want me back.
- On KPBS Wednesday morning. I was on These Days with host Maureen Cavanaugh along with Peter Callstrom, the Executive Director of the Regional Task Force on Homelessness (who also joined us at the protest). There is an audio and transcript here.
- The Union-Tribune made the sticker the subject of one of its editorials yesterday (6/24/10). The editorial did not mention us, the boycott, but did disagree with the sticker. Here’s a quote: “if there is a real problem in Ocean Beach with panhandling that has become so aggressive as to be threatening to residents, the situation calls out for a genuine remedy. The trouble is, the bumper sticker isn’t it. These irreverent stickers are nothing more than an unwelcome distraction from the real issue.“
- And here’s the Reader‘s take on what happened on Wednesday through the words of Dave Rice, another reliable OBcean citizen journalist.
- Hopefully, the local Ecumenical Council made up of over a half dozen local churches will move soon on their plans to sponsor and facilitate a community forum on the homeless and homelessness.
- We still are sponsoring an online petition asking The Black to stop selling their merchandise with the anti-homeless images. Go here for the petition. Over 150 people have signed it, two-thirds from California, and most of those from San Diego.
- We still believe that The Black – which has made thousands off these stickers and merchandise – (they say), should donate all or some to the churches and/or social service groups who are dealing with homeless issues.
- We also believe that the merchants have valid complaints. No one ever said they didn’t. We never defended aggressive panhandling or crimes committed by anyone. Let’s hear the merchants out and let’s discuss solutions … all while understanding that homelessness is a city and regional and national issue.
- Homeless in San Diego County rose by 8% this year over last year. The on-street homeless population rose even more to 12%.
The Future ….
How do you want to explain what OB did about its homeless problems in 2010 to your children?
My Credentials to Speak
On Wednesday, in front of The Black, some people questioned my right to speak and have an opinion. Here is a very short version of my history in OB and Point Loma:
- 1950: Parents bought a house on Catalina Blvd
- 1953: My father, an Army officer and vet from WWII, returns from the Korean war; we move to North Carolina but keep the house – my uncle moved in.
- My uncle and my namesake, Frank Webber, opens and owns the OB Camera on Newport Ave 1950ish to 1968ish;
- 1961- my father retires from US Army, we move back to Catalina Blvd;
- I enter Dana Jr High and graduate 1963
- 1964 – We move to Monaco Street down near Sunset Cliffs
- 1964 – my father loses his job at General Dynamics, my mother has to go to work at uncle’s camera store on Newport; I work at camera store on holidays and summers.
- 1965 – We move to new condos off West Point Loma in the Mid-Way area.
- 1966 – Graduate with honors from Point Loma High School; I’m Student Body President
- 1966 – I enter West Point, US Military Academy; on Honor Roll
- 1968 – I leave West Point, return to OB, get married at Methodist Church on Sunset Cliffs, move in to one bedroom on Brighton.
- I attend UCSD from 1968-70; graduate early with honors with BS degree in Sociology, minor in math;
- September 1970 – publish first issue of the OB People’s Rag
- Winter 1970 – first hippie on the OB Town Council; also first hippie to be thrown off the Town Council (conservatives used obscure rule to overrule my election).
- Jan – March 1971- Organize for Collier Park in northeast OB;
- March 28, 1971 – Collier Park Riot – cops attack peaceful anti-war crowd rallying to save Collier Park; 50 arrested – I leave town as I was involved in an altercation with a police officer who was beating a teenage boy. I’m later arrested, tried and convicted of assault, and spend 9 months in custody – mainly an an Honor Camp where I work on roads and fight fires;
- 1973-1976 – I rejoin the staff of the OB Rag, which at its height was publishing 10,000 copies every 2 weeks;
- 1973 – Founding member of the OB Community Planning Group
- 1974 – Founding member of the OB Human Rights Committee –
- 1974 – Worked as counselor and general go-fer at the Inbetween, a youth and homeless drop-in center on Newport Ave.
- 1974-75 – Part of non-profit medical clinic out-reach team in OB; went door-to-door to do medical screening tests; opened sub-office of clinic on Voltaire.
- 1974-75 Part of process along with OBTC and OBMA and OBCPG to form first democratically elected planning committee in history of California.
- 1976 – I am on a slate for the first board of the Planning Board; lose by 8 votes
- 1977 – Organized OB artists to paint mural on Falling Sky Pottery building;
- 1979 -1981 – I was involved in setting up educational group about immigration, the border and Mexican-Americans, Borderlands Education Committee;
- 1981-1987 Was Clinic Manager at Beach Area Community Clinic in Mission Beach.
- 1981-1986 published progressive magazine out of OB “The Whole Damn Pie Shop”, distributed throughout Southern California.
- 1987 – Campaigned for City Council (pre-District election days) – won in OB precincts beating such well-known politicians Byron Wear and Ron Roberts, received about 10% of vote.
- 1990-92 – Part of anti-development slate for the OB Planning Board that won in a landslide; a member of Board for 2 years;
- 2000 – Helped organize Reunion for 1970s community activists;
- 2000-2005 -Founder and co-chair of the OB Grassroots Organization;
- 2002-2004 – Chair and member of OB Planning Board
- 2003-05 OBGO led community movement to deal with potential toxic waste dump next to SeaWorld; member of Councilwoman Donna Frye’s Citizens’ Advisory Committee for study on toxic dump;
- October 2007 – with Patty Jones started online version of OB Rag blog
- November 2008 – along with Friends of OB Library and OB Historical Society organize two rallies to save OB library branch, which is successful;
- May 2009 – forced to give up Long Branch cottage due to economy, move to Lemon Grove on temporary basis;
- September 2009 – OB Rag blog has record of 2300 visitors in one day
- January – May 2010 – form “Adopt-a-Fire-Pit” project, and lobbies City Council to save OB and San Diego fire pits successfully;
- Spring 2010 – On average OB Rag has 800 to 1,000 daily visitors