Update on the ‘bum’ sticker controversy

by on June 25, 2010 · 49 comments

in Culture, Media, Ocean Beach, Popular

black protest-bums kpbs

Protesters for and against a controversial bumper sticker that reads "Welcome to Ocean Beach/Please don't feed our bums" gather in front of the Black which sells the stickers on June 23, 2010 in Ocean Beach. Photo by Jennifer Robinson

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 5see 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.

Meanwhile …

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 Readers 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

{ 47 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar oBak June 25, 2010 at 4:23 pm

Aimless rambling ahead?
I’m not a fan of the PB spillovers living here for a few months, buying a Seagull sticker for their lifted truck and getting this violent “OB Local” attitude. Mainly frustration with my neighbors I think. All of them sitting around talking about how much “appletree needs to go out of business so we can finally get a vons or something” while drinking their starbucks coffee. I just faceplam every day listening to these people. These are the people I see buying the stickers, talking trash about appletree, hodad’s, Willie’s Shoe Shine, BBQ House, and the homeless.
For me at least, it is no longer U.S. out of OB, but PB out of OB.
Maybe I’m just bitter because I don’t look good in an affliction tee.

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avatar Brian June 25, 2010 at 11:38 pm

Pretty sure I’ve seen “PB out of OB” stickers before.

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avatar obecean June 27, 2010 at 6:12 pm

At the Black, at least a few months ago they had ’em. So they’re not all bad there ;)

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avatar OB_Warzone June 25, 2010 at 4:24 pm

well…lets be honest, appletree DOES suck

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avatar bodysurferbob June 25, 2010 at 4:55 pm

there’s been these rumors that apple tree will be shutting down. (what? you don’t like it when the butcher lights up behind the counter?) there’s more rumors out there that if it does close, cvs may move in. that is not a food store primarily. other rumors have rite aid closing and filing for bankruptcy. do not hold your breath for a vons.

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avatar Kenloc June 25, 2010 at 5:04 pm

I have heard the appletree rumors as well.Vons delivers.you don’t need one down the street

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avatar Abby June 28, 2010 at 8:08 am

We also have a Fresh and Easy. Between that, Apple Tree and People’s I don’t think we need a Vons.

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avatar Kenloc June 25, 2010 at 5:03 pm

Let’s not start slamming The Appletree now! I love the tree)

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avatar Marilyn Steber June 26, 2010 at 5:26 pm

Ditto! Losing the Appletree wouldn’t guarantee another grocery store chain would come to serve OBceans, and people who like walking…or must walk…to a grocery store with a variety of products could lose “their” store altogether.
Once upon a time OB had a movie theater but someone thought the Mission Valley theaters would be better for us and the Strand theater became a tee shirt emporium.
I hope we won’t judge our OB merchants by such strict standards. They are worthy of our loyalty.

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avatar Pat June 25, 2010 at 6:32 pm

Frank,
I’m glad you posted your history here.
I was so pissed when people started to dis you and tell you to go back to Lemon Grove , my Irish / Scorpio blood began to boil. I couldn’t help but go off. I felt bad later because I try to maintain a calm collective demeanor. But if the right buttons are pushed #*it happens. Most the people that where in your face don’t have a clue. Some who claimed to be long time OB residents I didn’t even recognize. I hope you have recovered from an ugly scene.

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avatar psd June 25, 2010 at 7:33 pm

Frank – some of the crap spewing from those people the other day was straight up despicable. I tried to talk to “Everybody Sucks But Me” for a while after you but got nowhere…wondering if he’s flattered by the scowl he gave me after I gave up attempts to open dialogue – it did get him in the news, which is what he wanted.

Good on ya posting your OG OB bonafides, too – between some of the crap I’ve heard at the bars lately, the surfer debacle a few months back, Ed Decker’s piece, and the hell you’ve been through I almost don’t want to call myself a ‘local,’ regardless of whether I’m even entitled to claim it or not. Race: human. Citizenship: Earth. oBak said pretty much the same thing a few posts up, except maybe better than me.

Appletree does suck. But that’s beside the point – it’s a local business serving a local need for a grocery store in the community. If I could afford to pay their prices I probably would for everything but meat and produce just to support a local business, but there are still plenty of times I need this or that and it’s nice to hop on my bike instead of in my car for little things in the middle of cooking dinner. It’ll be a bummer when they go.

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avatar Sunshine June 25, 2010 at 8:53 pm

Frank,
Thank you for all you have done in and for OB in your years here (and near here). I, for one, feel like I’m learning extraordinarily valuable lessons from you and other long-time OBceans ~ those who share my passions for freedom to live a peaceful & mellow life, and willingness to speak up and out against haters via community activism. It worked in previous generations here and I’m glad its still happening.

It takes unity to make a commUNITY.

There are so many other beach towns to call home. Why do people continue to come to OB and want to ‘fix’ what isn’t broken. I like small town life (even when it’s contained within a bigger city like San Diego) with its mom & pop shops, locally owned and operated stores, and (for the most part) a non-corporate mentality. These are some of the aspects of OB that I love and moved here for.

Sure, there is crime here. Name me one town in America where there isn’t any.
Sure, there are homeless here. Again, I challenge anyone to name a town where there aren’t any.

Yet, lately I’ve been treated better by the homeless than by those who reside in apartments/houses.

Dare I say it ~ if you don’t like OB the way it is, then simply move on? Some of us old hippie & flower children like OB just the way it is ~ sans the haters of late, of course.

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avatar Wireless Mike June 25, 2010 at 11:35 pm

Frank, I’m glad you posted your credentials, but I’m sorry to see that it was necessary. Many of us who have lived in OB for decades know what a central figure you have been in our community, and we are all better off as a result of your efforts. Apparently, a lot of people don’t know and don’t care what OB was like before they showed up. A community like OB needs a sense of continuity for its unique culture and character to survive from one generation to the next.

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avatar john June 26, 2010 at 6:16 am

1. I wasn’t there wednesday but the clips I saw on KGTV showed some really hateful nasty people counterprotesting Frank. In particular a 40ish blond woman who was shown shouting, blocking the cameraman from filming Frank with her sign, just being a hater in general.
2. I respect the Black’s right to sell that sticker as much as I respect Frank’s right to picket them for it as much as I respect the right of someone to counterprotest Frank. I have no respect for someone who shows up and tries to outshout Frank or see who can get closest to assault charges without actually doing it.
3. Frank, you’re a bleeding heart liberal. You’ll always be an obecian, you needn’t prove that to anyone as far as I’m concerned. On the news footage you came off as compassionate and sincere. As for the counterprotest, in general, I can only say: You can hate the bums, but hate will not make the go away. See below for more on that.
4. Apple Tree sucks? Well it’s not like shopping Vons with double coupons, sure, but saying that reflects the judgement of someone who hasn’t seen how bad small grocery stores can be. For their market niche in that industry I think Apple Tree is outstanding and a real asset to the community. I don’t know the name of the owner but over the years I’ve seen a few little things- like one time at the old Bank of America, a guy in a wheelchair was coming in the door and got hung up and while everyone else just stood there lamely, he graciously lost his place in line and ran over and helped the guy. I think he’s a stand up guy. I’d also hate to see Rite-Aid go, because tho they are a chain they have some long time employees and really feel like a small outfit. Never had a bad experience there.
5, I posted in another thread on the loss of a sense of community that I thought was indicated by someone calling the police for a homeless person just “being there” on the sidewalk, probably not on anyone’s property. I did think back at all the times I used to see Mike the Walking Man go by when I’d be out wrenching on my hearse on W Pt Loma, and how every time I’d kind of smile and make eye contact with him. I think it’s easy to hate on a group of people, “bums” and we’re all going to get what we give here because if you don’t know who they are and they don’t know you, people= all people- start to lose that thing called “societal conscience”-judgement of their peers, and this is what always used to make OB pretty special. Everybody kind of knew each other, and this tends to both restrain bad behaviour, and even make those individuals want to earn your respect.
Simply put-If you hate on the homeless, look away from them as less than human, expect them to take a dump in your yard. If you look them in the eye, better, know their name, that’s a lot less likely to happen.
And lastly America’s downslide has yet to bottom. You may be one easier than you’d think.

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avatar Citizen Cane June 26, 2010 at 1:53 pm

“Nowhere was this more evident than in the punitive move by Congress this week to not renew the spending bill to extend the period of unemployment benefits: About 2 million Americans will lose their benefits by the end of July, including 1.3 million by the end of this week…”

-Wall Street Journal 6/26/10

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avatar Jon June 26, 2010 at 7:00 am

The smug guy with the “Frank Gormlie dosen’t(sp) live here and can’t talk” sign really should have done his homework. What a jerk. Sorry you had to go through that Frank. Also sorry that I’ve been sitting on the fence with this issue. I’ve thought the sticker was lame, but had problems with a boycott of a local business and thought bringing more attention to it would only create more division (hmmm). However, after seeing the photos, and hearing the first hand accounts of what went down that day, I wish I had been there to support you and my friends. The personal attacks on Frank were just ridiculous. If you want to be some sort of “super local dude” you should probably start by knowing your history and show some respect.

Happy OB day everyone! Now let’s all get together and have a good ol’ OB time! I’m havin’ chili for breakfast woo-hoo!

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avatar Sunshine June 26, 2010 at 8:32 am

now that’s a sticker I could support, Jon. …Happy OB Day
or how about Welcome to OB. please ignore our intolerant haters

While my stomach cannot handle chili for breakfast like yours Jon, I’ll be at the Hands Across the Sands from 11:30am-12:15pm starting at the OB Pier. Gotta show support for NO OFFSHORE DRILLING.

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avatar Jon June 26, 2010 at 8:44 am

Oh I didn’t say my stomach could handle it. But I still try every year. ;)

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avatar OBcean Bear June 26, 2010 at 8:14 am

I understand each side’s issues. My only question is: After they get rid of the “bums” who’s next? No matter what your position is on this issue, remembering these words and history’s lessons should be important to us all.

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out —
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out —
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out —
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.”

This was written by Martin Niemöller, a prominent Protestant pastor who opposed the Nazi regime. He spent the last 7 years of Nazi rule in concentration camps. Germany, 1937.

Who is next?

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avatar Frank Gormlie June 26, 2010 at 9:44 am

We received this – another account of what happened on Wed: “OB Bum Sticker, a No Joke”

The sticker sold at the Black Store in Ocean Beach, says: “Please Don’t Feed Our Bums,” like don’t feed the bears, squirrels, birds, etc., and treats humans like animals. This sticker constitutes a hate crime. Why? This sticker targets all homeless people as being guilty, and with the degrading name of “bums,” strips them of their humanity. This is a successful formula for all dictators, who point the finger of blame at a specific group of people, set charges, name call, and set a plan in place to eradicate them, and it is never a joke.

Aggressive panhandling and wrongfully loitering are laws, and the police are the professionals to ticket the guilty people. Vigilante actions, which take the law into their own hands, are usually fueled by anger, hate, and can escalate into murder. People like Hitler and the Ku Klaus Klan, targeted people, and brutal criminal acts were perpetrated against innocent people.

Rather than banding together as a community for solutions to help homeless and poor people move forward, like housing first, came the unjust criminalization of homeless people, labeled criminals to get rid of, not help. With this attitude promoted, there is an increase in beatings of homeless people requiring hospitalization. I tell people, “If Jesus was ministering on the streets today in His poverty, He would be in jail most of the time. This is a sad state of affairs. Help not hate. There by the grace of God go any one of us.

Finally, I went to Ocean Beach to support the boycott of the Black Store, who sells the sticker, and to defend homeless people in this vigilante hate attack. Some people who worked at the Black told me the sticker is only a joke. Carrying my letter in defense of homeless people, I had to write “No Hate at the top of the paper, for many pro sticker people, were yelling, screaming, name calling at most who did not agree with them. The attacks escalated, and this pro sticker woman pushed me, and then hit me in the head with her sign on a stick. Not injured, but in violence hated.

Several other mature women and I huddled together in prayer to stop the escalation of hate, and I prayed that no weapon against us would prosper. Then a man barged into our group and proceeded to say that, “He was a local, lives up on the hill, and these people robbed him,” and he takes out this large knife with a jagged side and said, “This is what I take to aggressive panhandlers, for this rips the guts out.” I told him to leave, but he stayed, so I ran to get help, shaking all the way. To the Black, is your sticker still a joke?

The most disturbing was a young boy, maybe 7-8 years old, who carried a sign against Frank Gormlie, an activist, journalist and lawyer, defending homeless people’s rights, and this young boy aggressively shoved the sign into his face, spewing words of hated like the adults. Then he turned and did the same to me, a 66-year old woman carrying a sign. Hate crimes are taught to our children. Let the police to their job, so that the community can have peace, and role model constructive solutions to our children.

Healing Tree Ministry
Ms. Nancelle’ K. Lauffer, Missionary
POB 99242, SD, CA 92169
619-886-4654;
e-mail: nancel24@hotmail.com
http://www.geocities.com/healingtreemnistry

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avatar Ernie McCray June 26, 2010 at 11:13 am

Amen and amen. The young boy’s behavior bothered me more than all the bad behavior combined because he modeled what he saw and what I wrote in behalf of on my sign. Speaking to him I discovered that he had a friend among the homeless and there he was, not fully understanding his own behavior, supporting people who had lumped his friend in a general category of “bums.”
Children are still watching!

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avatar BillRayDrums June 26, 2010 at 11:21 am

There’s no such thing as “bad publicity”. Shining a light on something is just that.

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avatar Citizen Cane June 26, 2010 at 11:53 am

There was a small concert last night at Holy Trinity Church in OB. Andy Irvine doing his one man show. His final song (before the encore) was “Never Tire of the Road.” It was beyond appropriate for this place and time. I’m not sure if it was intentional, coincidence, or perhaps a God thing. You be the judge…you can listen to it here:

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avatar clubstyle_dj June 26, 2010 at 12:22 pm

Frank Gormlie FOR MAYOR of OB!

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avatar Frank Gormlie June 26, 2010 at 12:27 pm

Thanks clubstyle – made me feel pretty good. Do you want to be my campaign manager? LOL

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avatar clubstyle_dj June 26, 2010 at 12:46 pm

Not too many political skills… But I’ll rock your Victory party for sure.

Heading to the fair… TTY L8R

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avatar Ocean June 26, 2010 at 1:05 pm

Thank you, Frank for standing up for what’s right. I wanted to come to the picket but I had to work. I listened on NPR. Great job.
I thought that putting a sticker over “the evil sticker” saying “one day you may need help” might hit home for the haters. Many of us have been homeless or close to being homeless. I have worked for 34 years and now find myself in the worst situation of my life. The house that I rent was sold and I may be joining the homeless in 3 weeks.
The homeless are NOT all alcoholics and drug addicts. Also, it is the college students who come here to party in the summer time that I have had problems with; not the homeless.

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avatar Brian June 26, 2010 at 4:16 pm

Now, here’s a message I can get behind: http://iheartbums.files.wordpress.com/2010/06/picture-62.png

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avatar Frank Gormlie June 26, 2010 at 5:35 pm

Christine turned us on to this account from Phoenix Fox News: The story of this sticker has captured national interest as can be seen in the following video from myFOXphoenix.com.

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avatar Rich June 27, 2010 at 12:26 pm

I dunno… Seems like you guys are acting like Jehovah’s Witnesses going door-to-door. Most people don’t like their intrusions into their homes and when they tell them to get lost, the J.W.s revel in the fact that they have been “persecuted for righteousness’ sake”. You all knew that this is an emotionally charged issue, yet you went to protest and make a spectacle anyways. What did you expect? But now, you have ammo to say, “See – everyone who agrees with The Black and the stickers are a bunch of hate mongers.” Helps your argument…

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avatar psd June 27, 2010 at 1:05 pm

While I’m not going to say there wasn’t a discernable display of anger from everyone over the issue, the ‘anti-sticker’ crowd was undeniably less vile in their behavior. I’ll give you two scenarios using your JW example.

JW: Hi, we’d like to talk to you about God.
Me behind screen door: No thanks, only pagans and agnostics happy with their beliefs in this house. Good luck with your next door-knocking. Bye!

Is anything wrong with my being anti-JW here? This is my standard speech whenever I get the occasional JW or Mormon, and I don’t think it’s disrespectful, it just states that I disagree with them…if I’m wrong in my assumptions, please let me know how. Here’s how it went at the protest:

Anti-sticker crowd: We think the message of this sticker is hateful and wrong, and does more to dehumanize homeless than address the problems some of them are causing. Do you want to sign a petition agreeing with us?
Pro-sticker guy: No thanks, I’d rather be butt-f’ing your wife.

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avatar Rich June 28, 2010 at 7:39 am

psd:

I totally agree with your point that discussions on this issue should be respectful. “Pro-sticker guy(s)” with that attitude don’t help anyone and it’s unfortunate things went that way. But from what I can gather, pro-sticker people haven’t been the only ones disrespectful in the debate – it’s been on both sides. I’m just sayin’ that when people organize a “protest” or “boycott” on such an emotionally charged issue like this, a certain amount of that behavior should be expected and not used to convolute the issue because then it turns into a focus on each side’s behavior instead of the issue at hand.

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avatar Kenloc June 27, 2010 at 2:44 pm

I think that was the most shocking thing to come of this for many of us.It was appalling to see how uncivil and rude people were being.

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avatar tj June 27, 2010 at 2:59 pm

Frank,

Nice piece & follow up on this amazing story. Gutsy & smart move – the life-line “credentials.”

– “HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS.” –
by Gaius Plinius Secundas, Pliny the Elder (AD 23 – 79), Como, Italy. That’s an observation that has obviously stood the test of time ….

btw – keep up the good work, & don’t let the bast@ges get you down.

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avatar OB Cindi June 27, 2010 at 5:58 pm

Wanted to thank you Frank for standing up for your beliefs. How many of us go through life and say, “I wish I could have got out of work early to do that” or “If I only had time between happy hour and going out on a date to stand behind my cause.” Well, Frank put everything aside, and took a stand. And what he took a stand on is the following: “Travelers are human beings–preach tolerance, not disrespect.” And for that, Frank, your msg shined through. Sometimes it takes others acting like $hi+ to make oneself look like a rose.

There was a pretty 20-something blond girl who walked by with her mom eating an ice-cream cone, and when I simply stated what the sticker said, she made a face and said “Wow, WHO would sell something something like that?” Most of us were raised in religious backgrounds and taught to give and to love and be charitable. So this sticker is shocking. I told a class at City College what the sticker said (again, minus any emotion) and the room gasped. Live and let live is how most of us feel. To think you are better for how many years you have lived here, is rediculous. You need to travel if this is your only “credential” for being against travelers. But I digress….Clearly those who were yelling in my face (soccer boy and More OB Less Rag AKA “More OB I’m a Douchebag”) need to work on anger management. I actually had two great conversations with those who want to do something about the homeless and who want to work as a community to find solutions. So let’s stop the hate, and begin the healing. Come together, stop talking, and lets listen to Lane Tobias and other locals here who are urging we come together as a community to push for shelters and facilities.

When we see something horrible happening, don’t get physical or shout at people, stay calm and CALL THE POLICE. Because they did a GREAT job the other day in front of The Black. Let’s give those SDPD who kept the peace when people were getting physically violent and spewing hate at Frank. This is the first since I moved here, but I give the SDPD a STANDING OVATION. Good job!!!

Frank is the heart of OBRag because he has been an OB institution for DECADES and because he cares. If he didn’t care, he could have stayed safely tucked at home, and shrugged his shoulders the next time he heard about two big thugs TKO’ing some homeless kid for asking for change. You might not agree with him, but violence makes his opinion appear more sane.

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avatar just my 2 cents June 28, 2010 at 8:02 am

I was having a conversation with a couple buddies about this we all three agreed at some point in time the question has to be asked of us all:

What do we do to contribute to society? Several of these were First Responders for over 25 years. One was in the areospace industry. One was a General Contractor.
All made a contribution to society on some level all paid a large sum in taxes.
I wonder how a twenty something person in good health who hangs out at the seawall selling 5 buck bags of pot would answer?

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avatar tj June 28, 2010 at 11:21 am

Something to consider ….

…. for all of us.

Take care.

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avatar Kenloc June 29, 2010 at 11:17 am

He is filling a need as well.=) You know you bought pot from that guy and all you guys were smokin it while you were having that conversation)

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avatar Sarah June 29, 2010 at 11:01 am

May I ask what you and your buddies had done to “…contribute to society” when you were a twenty-something person?

I agree totally that all people need to contribute to society. I don’t agree that the contribution must be in the form of large sums of taxes or having held jobs that are “approved” by society. Some people contribute through art and music and some through helping those in need.

It is important to understand that not all disabilities are physically noticable and what may look to you like a “…person in good health” may not be as they appear to be. In addition, there is such a thing as mental illness, which cannot be disregarded.

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avatar Abby June 28, 2010 at 8:05 am

While I never thought the sticker was that big a deal, I was shocked and saddened at the hostility aimed at the protesters. I guess I didn’t realize how much anger some people have about the homeless in OB.

In the past 3 years I’ve had one guy be rude to me when I said I didn’t have any change (I really didn’t). And that’s it. Nothing that ever made me feel unsafe.

Sure, it can get annoying being hit up for change all the time, especially on a day that I’ve put in 12 hours at my underpaying job so I can keep paying my rent to stay in the place I love. But I don’t get where all the anger is coming from.

I think I’m less afraid of the homeless than some of the people who hate them.

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avatar obsteven June 28, 2010 at 5:29 pm

I’m looking to move out of O.B. soon. It’s just changing too much for me. It’s not the cool little hippie town it once was. Too much hate. Sad really.

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avatar Marilyn Steber June 29, 2010 at 10:09 am

Too bad, OB Steven, but take heart. I know people who left and stayed away for years who came back, even if it was just to get a deli-sandwich at Chris’ liquor and take the dog to the beach.
Speaking of which, when I brought my High Tide to a meeting elsewhere, it was recognized by someone I hadn’t seen for years! Another woman (NOT a dog by any stretch of the imagination) came in from Iowa to see her fiance. He brought her to OB for a “romantic date”: Chris’s deli sandwich and sunset at the beach.
Ya can’t leave some memories behind.

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avatar Kenloc June 29, 2010 at 11:10 am

Where will you go? Will you be IBsteven? Or move east and be Santeesteven?=) As I said in the comments on Ernies article,it was a few dozen folks that were there being rude and hateful.Ob has thousands of people in it.Dont brand all obecians for the actions of a few,just as you feel the sticker does to the homeless.Ob is still a great town.Is it the hippie town from yesteryear that many people remember and long for? I’d say no.But what place is the same as it was 30 to 50 years ago?20 years ago?10? Progress continues to inch into ob……

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avatar Edwin Decker June 30, 2010 at 10:47 pm

Hey Frank, thanks for posting a link to my “Locals Only” story. Not sure what happened though, because the link is broken. Here it is again, this time it goes straight to my website. Thanks!

http://www.edwindecker.com/2010/06/23/1396/

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avatar Frank Gormlie July 1, 2010 at 8:00 am

Thanks, I made the switch. Thanks for the headsup.

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avatar EwaKid July 4, 2010 at 3:19 pm

We could use those bumper stickers in Hawaii which has become a dumping ground for the homeless.

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avatar Marilyn Steber July 5, 2010 at 11:48 am

If you mean the poor can get to Hawaii rather than stop in Ocean Beach, how do I get to that “dumping ground” transport?
Nah, I take that back.
I’ve just been to Oahu so I may not have the best opinion, but I prefer OB.

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