San Diego Cops and the OB Rag Finally Agree on Something

by on March 24, 2015 · 10 comments

in Civil Rights, Culture, History, Homelessness, Media, Ocean Beach, Politics, San Diego

Old Hippie ob time“OB Time” Sees Common Appreciation of Homeless

By the Old OB Hippie

Yup, that’s right. San Diego cops and the OB Rag finally agree on something. And it has to do with the homeless and how things keep getting repeated.

At a recent Ocean Beach Town Council meeting, two high-ranking police officers were seen and overheard shaking hands and speaking with Frank Gormlie, editordude of the OB Rag, back at the rear of the large room at the Masonic Center before the meeting began.

It turns out, the officers were thanking the Rag for publishing an article about how “good citizens” complained about the hippies back in 1968 and their “aggressive panhandling” and “public urination” – which had then been updated and re-worded; everywhere “hippie” was written in the article, “homeless” was substituted in.

The original article was written by John Lawrence writing for the original San Diego Free Press. (Today, John Lawrence writes for the new online version of the SDFP as well as for the OB Rag.)

The cops liked the re-written article so much, Gormlie was told, that they had printed it out and were passing it around back at HQ Western Division. They all quite enjoyed it.

And this is not a bad thing. The OB Rag and the cops agreeing on something.  But what exactly are they agreeing on?

The re-worded recent version demonstrates that the very same complaints being made by residents and merchants today about the homeless are the same that were made about hippies 47 years ago.

The police appreciate this as they are constantly being pressured “to do something” about all the homeless.There are certain constraints – like human rights, the Constitution, civility. Things like that.

But, San Diego has in effect criminalized homelessness and relies on the police to deal with a social and economic issue. The cops understand this – even when they crack down on the homeless, like threatening arrest of those who feed the homeless or those who are sleeping in our parks and beaches.

The police understand that when “the good citizens” or “Peninsulans aroused” bring pressure to bear on the police meager resources, their lack of sergeants, and their low morale, it’s the citizens that are not appreciating the civility – or lack of – of the moment.

Homelessness is not a police issue. But we treat it like it is. And when those who consistently and persistently advocate for the rights of the homeless / houseless strike a chord with those who are pressured to make it a police issue, common ground is attained – even only for a fleeting moment.

Here is the re-worded John Lawrence article, posted Jan. 16, 2015:

Complaints About Homeless Have Echoes

By John Lawrence

The solid citizenry of Ocean Beach are aroused. For some time now, there has been a virtual state of war existing between businessmen and merchants, on the one hand, and homeless on the other. The growing homeless community in OB has been met with growing alarm on the part of the established citizenry.

Those with Establishment interests want to drive the homeless out of OB since they view them as a treat to their businesses and are offended by the mores and folkways of the homeless youth culture. Homeless contribute very little economically to established businesses and tend to scare away more conventional people who would have patronized these businesses. Homeless people have been refused service at several places of business and in turn have taken revenge through acts of vandalism and theft. Because of this, insurance companies have raised the rates charged to OB businessmen.

Recently, there have been several public acts of sexual intercourse including screwing on the front lawn (an all-time first in San Diego according to some sources) which established citizens feel set a bad example for their own families.

The panhandling scene flourishes in OB, and businessmen are chagrined when they are hit up for spare change which is not spent in local businesses. They are also sometimes vexed at the epithets hurled at them when they refuse a panhandler’s request.

There is a large drug scene in OB which mortifies established citizens immensely since they do not was their own offspring influenced to such wiles and temptations.

A group calling themselves the Peninsula Aroused Citizens went to the City Council last week to demand better law enforcement on Ocean Beach. This group, composed primarily of the merchants and businessmen who for over a year have been waging a relentless was with the homeless, is intent on driving them out of San Diego.

They contend that the majority of homelss are from out of town (which is probably true of a majority of San Diegans) and have come to San Diego as a result of the heat at beaches up north. Their plan is to kindle the heat to the homeless boiling point here so that they will evaporate leaving OB clean and pure and sterilized – once again fit for the enjoyment of decent folk.

One of the strategic focal points in the campaign is a place called the SeaWall where homeless are fed. Located on Newport Avenue, the SeaWall homeless feeding was brought into existence by the Point Loma Methodist Church. At the present time there are also a number of other churches involved in sponsoring the feeding of homeless. The Peninsula Aroused Citizen’s view it as a den of iniquity and a sanctuary for fornicators, dope peddlers, and revolutionaries of all stripes and colors. They wring their hands over the alleged fact that churches are supporting such shenanigans.

According to informed sources, the San Diego police feel their hands are tied in “combating crime” at the homeless feeding at the SeaWall because the place is church-sponsored. The police cannot afford to lose their considerable prestige by placing themselves in the position of attacking a church. The Aroused Citizens are trying to get the churches to pull out their support so that the police can move in with good conscience and a free hand and clear all those filthy homeless out of there. It is generally acknowledged by the SDPD that they would like to see the homeless feeding at the SeaWall closed.

According to informed sources, the Aroused Citizens are not only aroused but dedicated and well-heeled. It seems as if they have blitzed the homeless with their spring offensive putting the homeless on the defensive.

Meanwhile, the police are opening a Community Relations Office in OB.

Editor: The above article is lifted word for word right out of the July 1968 issue of the San Diego Free Press, except for our substituting the words “homeless” for “hippies” and the “Inbetween” for the “SeaWall and homeless feeding” and some other minor editing. It was originally written as a serious article and it is not satire nor tongue-in-cheek. This article shows that since 1968, OB merchants and the well-heeled citizens of the area have been complaining about the hippies, their pan-handling, their sex, their drugs and graffiti. The so-called “Peninsula Aroused Citizens” was a real group. Also, the Inbetween is mentioned and discussed – it sat right on the last block of Newport Avenue. Have yourself a good laugh – and a history lesson.

Image of the article "O. B. "Citizens" Aroused from the original San Diego Free Press



{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Robert Burns March 24, 2015 at 2:16 pm

The article is in error as saying that San Diego treats homelessness as a police issue. Yes, there are aspects of that, but homelessness misbehavior has been legalized because the City refuses to cause to be provided adequate shelters so that the homeless population has a severe shortage of adequate shelter.


Anna March 24, 2015 at 3:49 pm

Many components of SeaWall issues are left out of this article. “Homeless” is a broad term. Able bodied youth who choose to loiter & behave badly day in & day out are not homeless. Cracking down on drug dealing & open drug use is not criminalizing the homeless.


Frank Gormlie Frank Gormlie March 24, 2015 at 7:29 pm

I think, in ol’ OB Hippie’s defense, that the article at some point becomes satire.


mjt March 24, 2015 at 3:54 pm

American standards are too high, the legal system too strict. In third world countries people build shacks and exist. There is no place here for that to happen. Who wants shacktown in their town? If a thousand acres were found, the homeless would come from far and near, and soon fill every inch.

Go to Walmart and save a dime, send mom and pop to the end of the line.
Close the ports to those behemoth ships, screw free trade, nothing is free.

Lord Krishna was an Avatar and a King
our leaders are neither.


CliffHanger March 24, 2015 at 4:52 pm

The news media, and our conversations, lump everyone living on the streets under the term “homeless”. This is not a homogeneous group of people. There are those with severe mental illness, there are military service vets who served and are now neglected, there are the drug addicts and there are younger group of voluntarily homeless or “travelers”. To address the issue of those who are homeless it requires many different approaches. The answer is not just providing a meal and not supplying the obvious need that results, toilets, unless you instruct those people to keep their crapping on only on YOUR property or alleyway. (got that, churches?)
The aggressive, young, intentionally homeless who have increased in such numbers deserve as much police attention as possible. Calling them “travelers” is being kind … or ignorant. They are the most aggressive panhandlers, they don’t respect OB and seem to be destructive when it suits their own selfish needs; stealing, breaking, crapping, peeing.
The rest, the older vets, the mentally ill, and the simply screwed by circumstance or society, deserve a different, caring hand to help them get what they need to survive more comfortably. That’s the problem we need our representatives to address. There’s a huge empty postal service building close by that could be put to good use, giving shelter, a center for counseling, job training, medical care, etc…..


Rosie Cheeks March 24, 2015 at 6:48 pm

I think you should find a different word to replace homeless. Being homeless is not the issue. The reason why people refer to the aggressive, law breaking, disrespectful group as “trolls” is because being homeless has nothing to do with it. I feel things such as this article is the reason why people look down on the ones that are sayin enough is enough. There is a difference between homeless vs troll. Some trolls may be homeless but the majority by choice not circumstance. I am sure many of the actual homeless are just as fed up with the trolls because they are being categorized by people that refer to trolls as homeless. Many that are fed up would help a homeless man with a meal but not a troll. My point is when substituting hippie for homeless it doesn’t make sense. Substitute hippie with _______ (troll or aggressive travelers etc) and then there might be some humor in what you have written. IMO you have given a perfect example of why people do not understand the real problem in OB.


Wayne Fleming March 24, 2015 at 7:29 pm

So I have to start off by saying that Frank Gormlie obviously doesn’t understand the difference in terminology when it comes to the word TROLL!

The residents in OB are sick to death of the “TROLLS” and thier disrespectful actions here in our town. These travelers, which by the way they like to be called, are trashing our beaches and the cliffs. These Troll/travelers are a different breed Frank, and they need to be addressed in a manner to which is effective to the fullest extent of the law.

In your writings it seems like you don’t know the difference between the 2 different types of homeless and it seems that your the only one that catagorizes them in the same way. I heard you on KPBS and you kept mentioning that an aggressive troll has to be knife wielding with a pit bull and your vision on the matter is beyond jaded, you have been typing about these Trolls for almost 5 years and nothing has been done on the matter! In fact it’s gotten worse.

So get your head out of the clouds and involve yourself in the actions that are needed to get thus problem of loitering, harassment, public drug use, public drug sales and urination under control. Be part of the solution and not part of the problem.

You also keep talking about we need resources for these trolls, but that’s funny because the ones referred to as trolls don’t want shelters but will take any other free hand out you will give them. Somethings not right with that is there. Basically you can’t help people who don’t want your help.
Wake up Frank G!!!!!


Marc Snelling Marc Snelling March 25, 2015 at 6:41 am

I wasnt around 47 years ago, but it seems the same as it was 15 years ago. La plus ca change la plus c’est la meme.


Will May 24, 2017 at 5:34 pm

Last week I saw a new permanent resident at Collier Park peeing out of his red sleeping bag on a picnic bench he hasn’t vacated in at least a couple weeks. This is a mental health and drug addiction problem that unfortunately we look at at as a criminal problem. No sane person wants to live in a city park and no sane person wants to sit in bum pee. I used to be much more compassionate towards the homeless, but living near W. Point Loma and Nimitz we have a steady stream of homeless who semi-regularly scream profanities for 10 or 15 minutes at a time. Whenever they feel like it. At the same time, I would not want to live anywhere else in the country.


Geoff Page Geoff Page May 25, 2017 at 12:46 pm

Will, I have personally yelled at this same guy on several occasions. He stands up and pisses right at the bench with no concern for anyone else and there is a big eucalyptus ten feet away that could obscure the activity. This guy is an alcoholic. The PD were at the Plant Reserve last week and I stopped to talk to them and ask them to say something to him. They knew his name and said he was an alcoholic and that he was probably hanging there because Collier is one of the few parks where drinking is legal. They asked if I wanted to press charges, which I did not because it seemed like a waste of PD time. A few days later, there was another regular at the bench inside the preserve starting to piss in the open and I yelled at him. When I came back through the preserve, the same two cops were there and I again asked them to say something and was again asked if I wanted to press charges. All I was looking for was some old time cop pressure, talk strongly to the guy and make him aware he could be arrested if a local citizen actually did decide to press charges. It seems their presence did change where everyone was sleeping in the preserve but did little else. I’m going to keep yelling.


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