I’m not anonymous, and don’t even know an anonymous person by name, so I really was only an observer at the protest. If everybody but me at the protest was anonymous, then I would count myself on the anonymous side rather than on the Scientology side. The Scientologists undoubtedly numbered me among the people protesting their organization, rather than among themselves.
Certainly the Scientologists photographed me, or had me photographed, just as devotedly as they had the anonymous folks photographed. It was also clear that the Scientology exec running the Scientologists or the agents had given them special orders for dealing with me.
The cult knows that I had to take a Chilliwack Transit System bus from downtown Chilliwack to the Greyhound depot, Greyhound bus into Vancouver, and Skytrain to Waterfront Station, which was the designated anondezvous. So I might as well tell everyone else my itinerary.
At the Chilliwack Greyhound station, I spotted a Guy Fawkes mask hanging on a bag a handsome gentleman was carrying. It looked like there were three other people waiting with him for the bus to Vancouver. Before I approached them, I chuckled away a bit to myself at the funny thought that anonymous is in the Wack.
There’s always a good chance that any anonymous person could be a Scientology operative, and of course cult head David Miscavige’s intel cells would desperately love to plant an agent in Chilliwack. If that was the case, the four of these people would know who I am; so I approached them sort of upfrontly and commented that I imagined they were going to the raid. I told them way to go and believe I even chuckled audibly to let them know I was friendly. I think I scared them more though than they scared me.
I was missing my right canine at the time, and knew I looked like a pirate and must scare the pants off people. I felt even less gregarious than in my already necessarily ungregarious condition before the tooth broke off. But I’m sure I smiled, because I don’t think there was an anonymous, or even a preanonymous or semianonymous person, I encountered all day long that I didn’t love. V-masks are funny on anyone. And now that I think about it, if I’d had one I wouldn’t have been even slightly self-conscious about my piratical appearance.
We boarded the already fairly full Greyhound and sat in different places, although at one point I walked back to the man with the mask and gave him my card. A soon as the bus got to Vancouver I had to have a whiz, so lost track of the Chilliwack contingent until I got to the Skytrain Station. They were buying tickets, and the train was just leaving. I started fumbling for change and trying to refigure out how to operate the ticket machines, and my anonymous friend handed me a ticket. I said bless you and hustled on board.
Even more than grateful for the free ride, I was grateful for their company, because they knew where they were going, and just made me safer. I think I felt all day until I left the protest in the mid afternoon that anonymous people from all over the place had my back. And they had it without knowing, I’m sure, who I was or how I related to the fraud, abuse and crime in Scientology that people, anonymous or not, were protesting.
At Waterfront Station, the anonymous folk gathered, V-masks appeared on all sorts of people, many somewhat nattily dressed, and other sorts of masks appeared on other equally anonymous folk. The circumstances made all the non-V-masks equally friendly, even if they were horror masks or freak masks. I was maybe just elated about the number of protesters assembling. I stayed aware that I was in considerable danger, and that command intention in Scientology is only an advice away from assassination, but I was buoyed up and along, and more hopeful than ever.
I looked around the station, then went off to a bench in one corner to organize my protest gear. A good friend recently gave Caroline and me this excellent back pack, and I secured Erika, our xenu.net picket bear, to the straps. There was a time when Andreas at Operation Clambake tried to get people to picket Scientology by enticing them with teddy bears but the legion of anonymous picketers need no such enticement. Still, Erika has attended some pretty hot protests.
Caroline wasn’t going to be at the protest, but I wanted her to have a presence there, because she truly has endured the Scientology evils that good people everywhere protested. So we reduced her standard picket sign, which is 19″ x 25,” down to 3.5″ x 4.5,” about the right size for Erika to carry. Caroline’s actual sign pole consists of two oak slats that bolt together into a 5′ length. For Erika’s sign we used a 7″ coffee stir stick. One side of the sign says, “$CIENTOLOGY GIVE MY MONEY BACK,” and the other says “$CIENTOLOGY LET MY DAUGHTER GO.”
I got our camera and a couple of dozen handouts ready, put the pack back on, adjusted my WOG hat®, and followed the masked menagerie the couple of blocks to the org. My handout was a letter to Scientology head David Miscavige providing my simple goals for the organization, noting that the anonymous phenomenon and individuals shared some of these goals, and reproving his irresponsible reactions to anonymous and to criticisms.
I gave away about 80 handouts and maybe 30 business cards during my time at the protest. I watched and felt things, talked to anyone who wanted to talk to me, and took a few photos. Many of the protesters stood in front of the Vancouver Film School building right across Hastings Street from the org, which is at the corner of Hastings and Homer. (02, 03) Other protesters gathered on the Scientology side of Hastings right in front of the org. (04, 05) Still more were across Homer from the org, where anonymous souls set up tables for anonymous handouts, water, food, etc. (06,07)
Anonymous folks in fact brought a stack of pizza cakes for the anonymous protesters cum partiers. I considered what it would take to feed that multitude, which probably by then had numbered 100 or more, and decided that it wouldn’t be a slice for me. I did, however, take a set of anonymous handouts that I treasure.
I found myself spontaneously cheering, along with everyone else of course, when a vehicle honked, especially a bus. I pray that people, anonymous or not, stay alert to buses, and all vehicles really, in the protesting circumstance. I sensed that some bus drivers, who drive those things right close to the curb,(08) were honking to warn the masked and seemingly oblivious crowd on the sidewalk they were coming. Nevertheless a bus driver honking for any reason brought a huge cheer from all corners.
I’m pretty sure car drivers honked because they knew it was the thing to do, not because they saw a picket sign telling them to honk if they thought Scientology is a scam or a cult or for some other reason. I remember when Caroline and I picketed the Vancouver org alone, all kinds of cars honked, and none of our signs instructed them to. http://www.gerryarmstrong.org/50grand/media/pickets/picket-2001-11-24-1.html Now that I think about it, quite a few buses honked back then too, and we were not in any danger of them whacking us. And also come to think of it, we even cheered then too.
This man, by the way, I thought won the farout award coming unmasked with an amazingly knowledgeable sign. (09) The sign that gave me the most chuckles, chortles actually, was “Save the Fresh Prince.” (10) The realtors’ sign was also a good one “FOR SALE: 1 crazy, psycho, murderous CULT!” (11)
There were a number of signless, unmasked, unanonymous people like myself who moved among the crowd. This man, who said he’s a filmmaker (12) working on a project for the National Film Board of Canada, [http://www.nfb.ca/splash/splash.php] interviewed me briefly on camera. I’ve lost track of him and his name, but I’ve sent his photo, which I like a lot, to the NFB to see if they can reconnect us.
A Vancouver Film School student, standing in the street in this photo (13), also wanted to interview me. He and a young woman student talked to me in the crowd, and then invited me into the school to film me, out of the anonymous din. I told them about my experience last summer with another group of VFS students, who had a project approved to film me. Scientology had threatened VFS, and the students’ supervisors or school administrators had canceled their project. http://www.gerryarmstrong.org/50grand/legal/decl-2007-08-16.html
The new pair of students said they weren’t at all concerned about being stopped in their project, that they were free to film whatever they wanted, and what they wanted was to make a documentary about Scientology. The school’s studios were all in use, so we ended up in a corridor or somewhere. The young lady asked me questions, the gentleman operated the camera, school people came and went, and I did my best to answer, to not think about my missing canine, and to put everyone at ease.
The org had security personnel positioned outside the entrances in the front and side of the building and in the alley at the rear. The first one I saw was this trench coat guy, (14) who was soon joined by a suit guy (15). I’m pretty sure they’re Scientologists that I’ve seen on earlier occasions. Later another Scientologist (16) joined them to do TRs with an anonymous confronter. These three (17) are at the side entrance, where Scientologists entered and left during the protest. (18) This security guy (19) didn’t want to come out and do even 50 foot TRs with the anonymous fellow looking back at him. And this heavy (20) was the cult’s main designated photographer, who bristled when I took his photo as he was taking mine.
It was a chilly day, my vasomotor rhinitis was running amuck, and there wasn’t my tooth. It was also scary, in part because nobody else, except the org heads from their viewpoints, knew how scary it was for me. Despite all that, and despite Caroline’s not being there, because she’s a dream to do just about anything with, it was a completely fine and beautiful time. I’ve left out some fine and beautiful encounters for security reasons. I got away safely, and back to the Wack in good time. Thank you all.