Religious Zealots downtown - should something be done? Crimes & Incidents, posted by McPleasanton, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Sep 7, 2009 at 11:18 pm
No less than 4 or 5 times this summer I have been with my children and had to listen to religious zealots screaming at the top of their lungs about the sins of humanity and the sins of homosexuals. I have no problem with free speech which provides minority groups with minority viewpoints to express their opinion openly without, in theory, punishment.
With that said I still can't understand how the "lets scream at the top of our lungs in your face" tactic really achieves the groups goal. Perhaps they gauge success based on the number of individuals that "react" to their ridiculous screaming?
The police have no right to arrest the group it appears. I saw 4 police vehicles near the group, but no action was being taken. Total waste of police resources. This group is hurting businesses downtown including Tullys, Coldstone and all other business at Main/Angela. Not to mention the many farmers market vendors that left due to the protesters.
A few questions for you PW readers:
1) Have you been bothered by the protesters downtown? (yes, I understand this is their goal, but to what end and at what cost to local businesses?)
2) Do you feel the City should look into passing an oridnace requiring a permit to protest downtown over a certain decibel level? Similar to how restaurants are required to have music approved.
3) Would you be offended, as a downtown patron, if loud classical music / holiday music was played over the protesters loud shouting to try to drive them out of Pleasanton?
I am very interested in building some momentum behind one of these ideas. The easiest solution is the drowning out of the protesters with music. I would rather have my young kids hearing loud music rather than these religious zealots.
Posted by First Ammendment Supporter, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Sep 7, 2009 at 11:41 pm
I would rather hear them and their freedom of speech than your intolerance for the First Ammendment with your attempt here to push more government over our city and state! However, thanks for the public display of arrogance for censorship. We'll be sure to watchdog this, while many Pleasantonians will be sure to step up to the plate and offer several "First Ammendment, Freedom of Speech" attorney references for these Christians.
Posted by McPleasanton, a resident of the Vineyard Hills neighborhood, on Sep 8, 2009 at 12:12 am
"First Ammendment Supporter" - I take it you will not be upset then when these protesters decide to set-up shop with bullhorns at the Downtown ice rink as you skate around with your young kids? I mean who wouldn't want someone pointing at your kid and yelling in your face and his that he is destined to be a homosexual? Happy Holidays right?
Free speech is fine. Free spit in my face and public comments about my children standing next to me is not fine. Wow..you went straight to the "lets hire some lawyers" to save the world. Sounds like you are very open to compromise on this issue (laughing of course as this is typed). Free speech that impacts downtown merchants and vendors is not "free" -- at least to those merchants and vendors trying to survive and make payroll.
Posted by PToWN94566, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Sep 8, 2009 at 12:26 am PToWN94566 is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
Isn't it ironic that someone wants to use the first amendment to defend these people, when in reality these people are also going against it? Here's refresher First Amendment Supporter: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Don't force supposed Christian morals down the public's throat when the are with their families/loved ones that are shopping, eating, doing whatever it is they are downtown.
I have not seen these people downtown yet when they have been present but I would be extremely annoyed with them being allowed to stand and do what they are doing. I do think there should be some kind of ordinance; possibly moving them somewhere else, having a set hours when they can't stand there (say 11pm to 6am) etc. I definitely support some kind of deterrence such as classical/holiday music being played.
I'm all for free speech, as others have stated, but no one has the right to stand their and speak directly to other people's children and basically tell them they're are going to hell or are future homosexuals etc. They are part of their own belief system, which is great, but it's very ignorant on their part to think that every other person is going to follow their way of life. When they stand on the street corner they are basically saying that if you're not with 'our group of people' you're going to hell.
Posted by mac, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Sep 8, 2009 at 8:10 am
Thanks, McPleasanton, for branching this off to another thread rather than continuing on with the same topic (yes, sarcastic). That happens all the time on here and only dilutes the effectiveness of referring back to all commentary.
Jerry - you are spot on. No lawywers, not our city council, our PD, no one is going to touch it. It's a legal quagmire. Even if it is winnable (it has both won and lost in past court situations around the country) there are costs involved. No one has the guts to stand up for the average joe anymore. The Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian civil rights group is mightily prepped with attorneys. Many believe this whole scenario is merely a source of income for these groups and their attorneys.
Posted by mac, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Sep 8, 2009 at 10:53 pm
Thank you "Send them packing". I wasn't interested in answering because I didn't think they were directed towards me. I never used the term "protesters" so didn't want to interject and the city council or police can surely measure the decibel level, as you say, not rocket science.
Posted by TBF, a resident of the Country Fair neighborhood, on Sep 9, 2009 at 8:37 am
I can see how this is an unpleasant experience. I've never witnessed these people myself, though I've seen similar situations. Jerry has a good point (raised by many of you) about them not touching people so thats how it seems they get away with it. I have little knowledge of the law but if someone is screaming at your child, isn't that harrassment? I suppose they would claim they weren't directing it at an individual. Is it some how discriminatory? What if they were yelling racial slurs would that then cross the line? As far as detering them with music it might become a war of noise and that could be even worse. Unfortunately common decency can't be legislated, it would take such an unbeleiveable overuse of Government and we would lose so much freedom and it would cost us. Wow, no easy soloution to this one.
Posted by Qwerty, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Sep 9, 2009 at 9:20 am
Yes, I agree about there being "no easy solution". We want our first amendment rights, on the other hand, we don't want to end up with Big Brother everywhere 24/7.
I think the best thing to do would be to ignore them and complain to the police. Not that they could necessarily do anything if the dB are lower than the stated limits. However, if the pleasanton PD gets enough calls, maybe they too will get annoyed and look for other ways to deal with this people.
Getting in a war of music/noise will only serve to gratify these people by creating controversy and possibly a confrontation.
Posted by Just another community member, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Sep 9, 2009 at 9:47 am
Tried to enjoy a nice cup of coffee at Tully's on Saturday but was unable to with all the religous yelling, screaming about all of the sinners and homosexuals, etc. I was very frustrated that I could not go downtown, enjoy the market, sip my coffee, visit neighbors. A police officer showed up and I asked him to do something. Said his hands were tied and there was nothing he could do. Seems to me that when you have a very large group of community members out to enjoy the marketplace and surrounding shops, they should be able to do so without being yelled at and having someone's beliefs shoved down their throat. One preacher was so loud, screaming until he was red in the face and spitting. It was unacceptable subject matter, being forced at us. Yes, we can walk away, but why should we have to? This is our community. Many folks did leave but many (MANY) complained to the police (including some of the vendors) and were very unhappy that nothing could (would) be done with these folks. Wouldn't think it is a good idea to drown them out with music, horns, etc., but I think that the police should listen to the members of the community and make these preachers go away on the charge of disturbing the peace. I know they disturbed my peace and it ruined my Saturday market experience. I am a firm believer of freedom of speech but this display was in no way acceptable and should not have to be tolerated. If they again ruin my market trip I will file a formal complaint with the police department; perhaps with hundreds of formal complaints the police will be able to act.
Posted by TiredofAntics, a resident of the Gatewood neighborhood, on Sep 9, 2009 at 10:08 am
As a Farmer's Market vendor, I have noticed a slight decline in business over the past few weeks due to the religious stretchers of the 1st Amendment. As mentioned previously, there is no legal recourse unless things get physical--not a good thing.
In the meantime, the best recourse is to treat screaming irrational people that act like children as children-- basically by ignoring their annoying behavior as if they weren't there. Without attention, these people will sooner or later (probably later) move on to where they will get the attention they need (remember to some children bad attention is still attention).
Bottom line-- don't let this minority negatively affect the Farmer's Market or the Main/Angela Sts. corner for the majority. Come on down and ignore these folk!
Posted by Just a thought, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Sep 9, 2009 at 10:44 am
Does the City of Pleasanton have any mission statement or ordinance prohibiting "hate speech"? Some cities do, I believe, and if these street preachers are targeting one specific group in their tirades (e.g. homosexuals) then it seems within the City's right to enforce that statute.
Posted by PToWN94566, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Sep 9, 2009 at 11:00 am PToWN94566 is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
If you read these religious preachers web site, you'll see that they love, love, love large crowds. I don't think having a larger crowd of people that simply ignore them will make them go away. It'll fee into their need to stand and preach their views more, thus possibly having them show up more to our town. The city council could devise some plan of what is allowed during large, crowded events.
All this first amendment crap is ridiculous. Why should people who do not follow Christianity be forced to walk down the street and listen to them? People who are atheists or who follow other world religions don't stand on the corner preaching. I'm also finding it comical that people keep stating that they find loud music offensive- in some weird way citizens of this town don't want them around but don't want to play loud classical/holiday music.
Posted by Christian, a resident of another community, on Sep 9, 2009 at 11:30 am
Aren't they "disturbing the peace" and creating a "public nuisance"?
I don't see this as "freedom of speech" at all, nor as an example of Christianity. I've seen and heard them at the farmers' market too and they're obnoxious. Why are they targeting Pleasanton? I live in Hayward (work here) and I've never seen them in Hayward, Castro Valley, Union City, San Leandro, etc. Perhaps they're hoping someone will take a swing at them so they can sue!
Posted by Qwerty, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Sep 9, 2009 at 11:48 am
I'm not going to alter my behavior and avoid the downtown area and farmer's market simply because these people are there. I'll go about my business and ignore them. If they drive and others away, then these people will have won. Perhaps they like large crowds because they are hoping that someone will get angry, swing a punch and then give them a right to sue.
I think all who enjoy downtown and the weekend festivities should continue to show up, do their thing, and ignore these people. As I said before, anyone who is annoyed by these other people (whoever they area) should complain to the police. Let the cops figure out a way around the first ammendment thing. If businesses are experiencing a downtown becuase of these people, I hope they too will complain. Then perhaps the city and the cops will work together to find a solution.
Posted by resident, a member of the Vintage Hills Elementary School community, on Sep 9, 2009 at 11:59 am
I am not in favor of squelching anyone's freedom of speech....I am in favor of asking them to redirect it to a more effective channel. People go downtown to socialize, relax, have a coffee or meal. They look to unwind from whatever burdens they might shoulder. To then have that invaded with unwanted screaming or motorcycles revving their engines with modified mufflers just wrecks the whole experience. I have heard many people say they'd rather eat at outdoor restaurants in other towns because they don't have to deal with people screaming at them or blaring their exhaust from large numbers of motorcycles. I don't understand why this is a violation of rights. Why can't people be considerate of others. Ease out of the front of Tully's with your bike....pass out your flyers with your message. You can still do what you want to do...just do it with the consideration of others.
Posted by mac, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Sep 9, 2009 at 12:52 pm
Resident, you got your wish...the motorcycle community used to park along the TUlly's curbside but was encouraged to "move along to a more suitable area" where their noise did not affect anyone else. THey did so. Now the street preacher's are doing the same but no one wants to act.
There is no considerate behavior at all on the part of these preachers.
Posted by biker, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Sep 9, 2009 at 1:59 pm
Bikers and smokers are not preachers!! Common courtesy for your neighbor is lacking in all these folks activitites. If you ride, don't be a jerk on the throttle. If you smoke step away from the folks eating, doorways and despose of the butt! If you are preaching - well then keep it down so people who want peace and quite can have that too. I don't see a "group" of bikers reving the throttle for 1/2 to 1 hour at a time, or do I see a "group" of smokers puffing in the face of diners for up to an hour. SO, I think the preachers have an agenda, hummm
BTW, I suspect the preachers are exceeding the 70 dBA - I have a meter and will test. AND the Pleasanton PD does enforce noise ordinance on loud car stereo's and loud pipes on bikes!
Posted by bystander, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Sep 9, 2009 at 6:49 pm
Christians? Obviously you haven't seen or heard these people. There is nothing Christian about them. Considerate of others? These people are aggressive, antagonistic, confrontational, loud, rude, mean and are not affiliated with any religion or church. Seriously, I am frightened by them and their cult, and feel that they are dangerously sick.
Posted by Pleasanton Parent, a resident of the Pleasanton Meadows neighborhood, on Sep 10, 2009 at 11:37 am
Our freedoms come with responsibility. I think people have the right to demonstrate, have the right to voice their opinion. I do not think they have the right to impose their opinions in a manner that disrupt my own "rights". Anybody that believes demonstrating in this manner brings positive attention to their cause is greatly mistaken.
Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore, on Sep 10, 2009 at 3:16 pm
If you are so disturbed by the Street Preachers, take your complaint to the next City Council meeting. Invite the PPD to the meeting and any others who support your position. I doubt that there is much that you can do to control their activities. They are simply practicing their right to Free Speech, their right to practice their Religion and their right to Assemble. I still have read anything that makes much sense to me other than a few residents are up in arms because you don't like the message.
The Street Preachers are not obliged to comfort you and shield you from their beliefs. They are not responsible for how you respond. I strongly suggest that if you can't chat and you're fearful that you can't be heard, then go indoors, go home or leave the particular scene. Problem solved. You do not have a right to deprive fellow Americans of their Constitutional rights no matter how unhappy you make yourself over this shouting out business! What is it you don't understand. They are Christians, they are American, some are Veterans and have fought in a war to protect your rights and now there you are with an axe to grind. give it a rest...
I think that many Christians are all about punishing other Christians if they don't agree with you. So much for your "Christian Values"...give it a rest! Pronto! Don't look to me for sympathy if all you want to do is harm other Americans because they don't think or preach like you do.
Posted by Pleasanton Parent, a resident of the Pleasanton Meadows neighborhood, on Sep 10, 2009 at 6:02 pm
Sorry, I don't have time to go to a City Council meeting to voice my disapproval. That time is better spent with my kids....which is the whole point. These types of people find it acceptable to disrupt my time, time I'm most likely spending with my kids, to do nothing more than get a rise out of people. They are not practicing their religion in doing so, if anything, I would suggest they are contradicting the core values of it.
If they want to hand out fliers, walk up and down the street with a sign, or set up some sort of informative booth inviting people to get more information about the message they are trying to spread - no problem. Assembling on a street corner and yelling at passer-byers should not be tolerated. Its rude and disrespectful.
Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore, on Sep 11, 2009 at 10:18 am
The City Counceil is WAY TOO POLITE TO STARE.
If people only want to complain on a blog and hope that they will be heard, forget it. To be a responsible American sometimes requires contacting elected reps so that your voice is heard. Nothing will change unless they get involved. If they're at the Farmer's Market and don't see or hear anything, then I guess all this fuss is just that...a big fuss. Or, perhaps they truly understand and support the rights of Americans to Free Speech, to Assemble and to practice their Religion. Seems logical to me.
Posted by In regards to P-Town Cop, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Sep 11, 2009 at 2:57 pm
Dear P-Town Cop:
Excuse my lack of knowledge, but can't the police stop the protesters?
Penal Code 415. Any of the following persons shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail for a period of not more than 90 days, a fine of not more than four hundred dollars ($400), or both such imprisonment and fine:
(1) Any person who unlawfully fights in a public place or
challenges another person in a public place to fight.
(2) Any person who maliciously and willfully disturbs another
person by loud and unreasonable noise.
(3) Any person who uses offensive words in a public place which
are inherently likely to provoke an immediate violent reaction.
Posted by Another Gatetree Resident, a resident of the Pleasanton Valley neighborhood, on Sep 11, 2009 at 3:40 pm
To answer the original questions posed:
A few questions for you PW readers:
1) Have you been bothered by the protesters downtown? Not in the least.
2) Do you feel the City should look into passing an oridnace requiring a permit to protest downtown over a certain decibel level? That's not how I want my tax dollars spent.
3) Would you be offended, as a downtown patron, if loud classical music / holiday music was played over the protesters loud shouting to try to drive them out of Pleasanton? Absolutey I would be. Frankly, I'm more offended by some of the things I hear come out of the mouths of our Amador Students on the other side of the common Gatetree/Amador fence line.
Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore, on Sep 13, 2009 at 7:31 am
How come so many primitive violent fantasies?
FREE SPEECH RULES! America is all about FREEDOM and not harming people that you disagree with you. Read your Constitution, it is a wonderful document. One of the 7 wonders of the world. It has nothing to do with primitive violent fantasies...sad...