Protest of Psycho Donut Shop near San Jose, California [MSNBC Video clip below].
This morning [May 16, 2009], F.U.S.E (Friends United to Support Equality) conducted a peaceful, non-violent picket of Psycho Donuts. It was very successful:
. About 35 of us showed up representing many different organizations;
. We distributed over 200 flyers;
. While some people in cars heckled us, the large majority of people driving by honked in support and cheered for us;
. We were interviewed by NBC11's weekend morning anchor/reporter, Kris Sanchez and she had a film crew there filming the picket;
. California State Assembly Member Jim Beall showed up in support and brought Teamsters local 287 president, Bob Blanchett, with him. Mr Blanchett said he could possibly assist us in getting their members out to support us;
. An ex-employee of Psycho Donuts, Cyndi, showed up and joined us - she shared about the horrible conditions she had to work under and the inhumane way in which she was fired;
. The police showed up but left us alone.
. We chanted, "5-6-7-8, Psycho Donuts peddles hate," "Stigma costs lives," "Hey-hey, ho-ho, the straightjacket has got to go," and "Psycho Donuts has no shame, Psycho Donuts change your name."
The owners pulled out all the stops and stooped to an all-time low:
. They tried to have our cars towed, but none of us were parked in their lot;
. They sent representatives out at various times to yell and scream obscenities at us. One gentleman carrying a Psycho Donuts flag followed me calling me a "communist, nazi bitch."
. Another rep of the shop came out wearing a black jail suit and a hannibal lecter mask and chased us around with a bullhorn calling us "idiots" "PC police," "bullies," and all kind of other hateful things. For our part, we never called any of them names. We remained nonviolent in both action and word.
. They tried to antagonize us by screaming profanities at us while children were all around. I couldn't believe it. We just stayed quiet, held our signs, and continued to march...hopefully a much better example to the children there.
. One of the owners, Kipp, came out with a bullhorn and taunted, "Ours is bigger and louder than yours." He criticized our posters saying people couldn't read them, tried to get some of the picketers into an argument and tried to block our way, but we all remained calm and went around him (like water around a rock). We refused to retaliate and continued to educate.
. They sent out several youth wearing Obama tshirts who yelled at us that Obama would want us to talk, not picket. We explained that we had been asking for a month for a meeting with the owners to talk, but they refused. I wonder how the Obama camp would feel if his staff knew his name was being used to justify hatred and the perpetuation of stigma, stereotypes, and discrimination against people with disabilities. I almost wanted to stop and tell them that I am from Chicago, and actually the President would probably support us because he is a seasoned community organizer and knows the power of nonviolent, peaceful protest.
. Toward the end, the owners brought out boxes of free donuts. Some of our folks were a little upset by this at first, but I reminded them that every donut they gave away for free cut into their profits.
They exhibited the very disregard for humanity that we were there protesting, so it really worked in our favor. But it was quite upsetting to have them yelling at us and rattled many of us. But we prevailed, had a good time exercising our constitutional rights, and got to know a lot of new people. If I've left anything out, for those of you who were there, please feel free to add anything.
Given the owners violent tactics, we really need more people out supporting us tomorrow. PLEASE, if you can, come out and hold a sign for an hour. We'll be there from 8:30 - 10:30 am at 2006 Winchester Boulevard in Campbell.
* * *
This morning [May 17, 2009], F.U.S.E (Friends United to Support Equality) conducted another peaceful, non-violent picket of Psycho Donuts. Like yesterday, it was very successful:
. About 50 of us showed up representing many different organizations. We started with 5 people picketing a few weeks ago, then it went up to 35 yesterday, and 50 today. Our numbers are increasing.
. We distributed over 200 flyers yesterday and 300 flyers today (500 people got our message);
. Unlike previous times, this morning we started picketing RIGHT IN FRONT on the sidewalk directly outside of Psycho Donuts. Before, we were told we had to picket on the city/public sidewalk outside of the parking lot. Before we began this morning, I had a conversation with the Campbell Police Lieutenant and cited a CA Supreme Court Ruling and the sections in the Campbell Municipal Code that allow us to leaflet on the private sidewalk in front of a business, and they said they would back us up on that as long as we kept moving and didn't block the entrance to the shop. Once we started, one of the owners, Jordan, came out and asked me if I had anything better to do with my time. When I didn't answer he said, "You can't be here doing that." I explained that we had a constitutional right to be there, and he said he was calling the police. I told him to go right ahead since we had already spoken with the police. When the police came out, one of our folks overheard the cop tell both the owners, "I am here to make sure these demonstrators have their first amendment rights protected."
. We successfully convinced a good handful of customers to leave. As several cars were pulling into the parking lot, they were met with our folks who gave them a flyer. They then proceeded to drive to the exit of the parking lot and leave. A few other people who came in and parked in front of the store saw us picketing outside, and then immediately backed out and left.
. Folks on the public sidewalk did an *excellent* job getting the message out, with lots of cars honking in support.
. The owners keep claiming they have lines going out the door on the weekend - BUT NOT THIS WEEKEND, THEY DIDN'T! The number of people actually going in was quite small and there was never a line.
. We were interviewed by 4 different reporters covering the story today. And our interview from yesterday made it onto MSNBC last night: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vWeDmhRqNlM
. Today's chants included: "Profiting from others pain, selling stigma, no one gains," "Stop mocking TBI, give something else a try," "Show your kids you really care, buy your donuts elsewhere," "Parents/kids, don't be fooled, Psycho Donuts are not cool," "Campbell leaders now's your chance, show you care, take a stance," and "Maple Leaf is down the street, stigma-free tasty treats."
The owners must have learned that their violent approach yesterday was not effective cause they toned it down a bit and tried a divide and conquer strategy instead:
. The owners tried to pick us off one by one. The first thing they did was pull NAMI Santa Clara County's ED, Brian, aside for a "private meeting." When he made it clear he wasn't going to be co-opted, they told him this was like a boxing match and "things can get ugly in a boxing match." "People can get hurt," they said. They said the picket was helping their business, so Brian brilliantly asked them why they needed to harass and intimidate us then? If we're good for your business, he asked them, then why don't you just leave us alone and let us do our thing?
. They had a magician on site and an accordion player outside the store to try and drown us out (wonder how much they had to pay for both of those);
. They had two counter-protesters standing outside the shop, who were joined by the owners for most of the picket. The owners were dressed in their white lab coats and stethoscopes and continued their intimidation tactics by insulting us as we marched by. One asked me where my nice twin was since the evil one showed up today. Another owner yelled at one of our folks who uses a cane "hey crippled boy, how's that stick working out for you?" They asked us all kinds of questions, like "So, what's the schedule for the pickets? We'd like to inform our magician." They kept asking, "Where's Rebecca?" They tried to get our picketers to stop and talk to them so they could have us arrested for not moving and blocking the sidewalk.
. The owners also continued their intimidation tactics by having a guy in dark sun glasses park right in front of the shop in a big black suburban wearing a "Psycho Donuts" security badge. He watched us the entire time.
. One of our folks overheard an owner doing a media interview in which he lied and said, "I've asked to meet with John Mitchem of NAMI Santa Clara County, and he said he would get back to me." That's a lie. What happened was last week the owner approached both John and I (separately) to do a debate on the radio with him and we politely refused and repeat our request for a meeting with the coalition.
. One of the shop's supporters backed right into the police lieutenant's car and damaged it.
So while today was less hostile than yesterday, the violent threats (i.e. comparing this to a boxing match and saying someone could get hurt) and the insults/obscenities continued. But we prevailed, stronger than ever, and ended today on a positive and affirming note by chanting loudly, "We'll be back!" And indeed, we will. More information and pictures to come. Thanks to all of you for your support.
* * *
Yesterday, the FUSE Leadership Team met to review our actions to date regarding Psycho Donuts, revisit our goals, and revise our strategies. To facilitate communication and ensure the sharing of confidential information, we decided to create a FUSE listserv. To find out more information about the decisions made during yesterday's meeting and future actions, please join the listserv by sending a request directly to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will manually add you to the list (if you haven't already received an invitation).