Group's demonstration riles downtown diners


Downtown restaurant diners and those sipping lattes outside Tully's Plaza during the Labor Day weekend were met with chants from a religious group toting signs and speaking out against homosexuality.

The demonstration from a handful of people Saturday, while the weekly Farmers' Market was going on, ruined what should have been an enjoyable experience, according to Pleasanton resident Natascha Thomson, who was downtown eating lunch with her husband.

"Independent from our opinions on the views displayed by this group, the shouting was so loud and continuous that we abandoned our plans to have coffee downtown or do any shopping," she said.

Susie Sage, also downtown Saturday with her children, got a little closer of an encounter than she would have liked.

"When I approached one of the 'preachers,' he told me I would go to hell," she said.

"A couple of guys holding hands walked past the loudest and most obnoxious of the 'preachers' and kissed each other right in front of him, which caused applause and whooping from onlookers, suggesting that most people felt the same as I did," she added. "The worst of it was that these people frightened the kids including my own by their shouting and use of language. I'm all for free speech but not when it is aimed at a minority group and is being used to incite hatred."

Thomson and Sage said while Pleasanton police officers were posted near the group, they monitored the scene but didn't do anything.

Pleasanton Police Lt. Mike Elerick said officers can only monitor demonstrations such as these because they aren't breaking any laws.

"It's very difficult for us," Elerick said. "In general, unfortunately, there are no laws being violated. It's freedom of speech. Unless they break the law with an assault, battery or some other violation, there's little we can do."

Demonstrations about political or religious issues aren't that uncommon downtown, a gathering place that is certain to get a high volume of people's attention. But usually, Elerick said the groups aren't as vocal as the one described by some residents Saturday.

"We have another group, Pleasantonians 4 Peace, that meets in front of the Museum On Main," Elerick said. "They practice their freedom of speech, but in a very peaceful, non-threatening way."

Since law enforcement's response is to be objective and neutral, officers' hands are tied, and residents often don't realize that it's the group's constitutional right to speak their minds, Elerick said.

Police are not usually made aware of a demonstration such as last weekend's, Elerick said, but officers do monitor these types of groups' websites to see when they're holding events as well as take pictures and videotape in case the situation were to escalate and lead to arrests. He added that the groups are usually comprised of members who live outside of Pleasanton.

Elerick said he doesn't see an increase in these events, and said residents who are upset with the demonstrations could look to expressing their freedom of speech by forming a peaceful counter-demonstration.

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Like this comment
Posted by resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 11, 2009 at 3:35 pm

How about a peaceful water balloon fight? I say next time they show up, “bombs away”.

Like this comment
Posted by Mike
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Sep 11, 2009 at 3:39 pm

Freedom of speech is best expressed in conversational tones.

Like this comment
Posted by m
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 11, 2009 at 3:56 pm

I have never seen the religious groups referred to on these posts ... but I gotta tell you ... getting in and out of the Farmer's Market without being bombarded by requests for "this and that" gets irritating. I think petitioners should be required to hear, "Are you a registered Pleasanton Voter???" 55 million times before they can ask the question in public ... there's gotta be a law I tell ya.

Like this comment
Posted by Bob
a resident of Foothill Farms
on Sep 11, 2009 at 4:45 pm

No problem and I have no issue with it and if they confront me and I do not want to hear it I tell them so. Everyone should have the right to say what they want and when they want. If you feel differently then stand up for your rights and express yourself.

Like this comment
Posted by Chris
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Sep 11, 2009 at 5:48 pm

The writer makes mention of the group doing their thing during the Labor Day weekend, but this same group had shown up at least once before during the Farmer Market that I witnessed two weeks prior. I read in a prior thread after that weekends activities that the group even has an online calendar of where they will be and at what times.

Like this comment
Posted by Timothy T
a resident of Downtown
on Sep 11, 2009 at 5:54 pm

I was down here and they asked me if I wanted to go to Heaven. I let them know that I didn't want to go if it meant there would be a bunch of people there yelling at me like they were.

I'm surprised that they use this as a method of evangelization. For every person that they "reach" they make 40 more people even more polarized against them. These guys are creating more atheists than they are Christians.

Like this comment
Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Sep 11, 2009 at 7:55 pm

Shoot 'em with a water gun is what I meant....jeeez.

Like this comment
Posted by Bryan Moran
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Sep 12, 2009 at 12:23 pm

If you can ever get into an actual conversation instead being verbally vomited upon by these "Christians", ask them when it was that they decided to be straight. If they are indignant and express that they of course never had a a gay impulse, then ask them to ponder if they really think that "gay" people sat down and had a conversation with themselves and simply decided to be gay. As this is of course rather specious, what most likely is they were simply born that way, either express it as being made by God gay, as he of course makes all things, or that they have a simple birth defect of which they should be a lot more sympathetic. After all, we look down on primitive cultures that think physical birth defects are proof the person did something wrong in a past life or is cursed by God and rightly so. So for "Christians" to do the same thing, well that makes them, kinda..., well, ummmmm...., well, you know, kinda the same way.

Like this comment
Posted by Cholo
a resident of Livermore
on Sep 12, 2009 at 3:51 pm

Web Link Israel Speaks!

Listen, you might learn something.

Like this comment
Posted by Obstruct
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 12, 2009 at 4:19 pm

Stand in front of the one who is taping them with a video camera. Keep positioning yourself in front of the camera. Get friends to take turns. It really annoys them.

Like this comment
Posted by True Believer
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Sep 12, 2009 at 6:26 pm

WWJD (What would Jesus do?) Jesus loved with his actions and his GENTLE words. He didn't wear a cloak condemning others to hell. He didn't shout at passersby and call them names. He didn't FORCE anyone to have to listen to him. He didn't need to advertise with banners, a video camera, and YouTube.

...And Jesus didn't talk AT people and offend them. He observed and listened. He LOVED! So I ask these people to be like this Jesus they preach about. Then maybe others will want to know about him.

Like this comment
Posted by Ozzy
a resident of Gatewood
on Sep 13, 2009 at 11:41 am

Wow...major problems in Pleasanton. Hire more cops

Like this comment
Posted by huh
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 13, 2009 at 3:13 pm

Ozzy, maybe you should read the article. There are cops there when this occurs. It is not their policy to act on this activity. Having even more of them standing around wouldn't make it any less annoying for the people there trying to enjoy themselves.

Like this comment
Posted by Maggie
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 13, 2009 at 3:40 pm

Had I not witnessed this disruptive event myself, I probably would be among those urging "free speech" rights for the demonstrators. HOWEVER, I was at the Farmer's Market and saw the entire proceedings. I was personally attacked and verbally assaulted by several of the demonstrators There appeared to be approximately 10-12 "preachers" on opposite street corners. They were carrying large, professionally printed banners with offensive and disparaging messages about people. They were loudly yelling their messages - invasive shrieking that was easily distinguished above the normal cacaphony of noises one would usually hear at the corner of Main and Angela on a sunny Saturday morning. The activity was very disturbing and invasive, in a location that I consider my "home" - which is different than having a group of "preachers" accost you on the way to a concert, etc. After politely asking the "preachers" to please lower their voices, I was mocked, falsely accused and yelled at with swear words by several of them. I had a most "un-pleasanton' experience at the Farmer's Market that day. It made me sad that the police were unable to do something about it, but I understand where they are coming from.

Like this comment
Posted by Julie
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 13, 2009 at 5:37 pm

Julie is a registered user.

Where do you draw the line between "free speech" and "hate crime" or "noise pollution"? So I can stand on a street corner and yell obscenities at people? Racial slurs? Or is it not okay unless I'm associated with a "church"? I'm sorry, but there must be some law to force them to a)be quieter; and b) not verbally assault individuals. We all have the right to free well as to quiet, and to not be verbally attacked. I think Pleasanton is wimping out on this. For goodness sakes I can get ticketed if my dogs bark, but these guys can do this? Ridiculous!

Like this comment
Posted by Cholo
a resident of Livermore
on Sep 14, 2009 at 11:52 am

Web Link Recent info re: Street Preachers, $$$$$ to city, Christian Law firms.

Street Preachers will engage in any and all forms of litigation to protect their Free Speech rights. They are winning decisions in the US courts nationwide.

Temporary discomfort with the volume of shouting out supersedes the public right to a quiet spot.

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Ridgeview Commons

on Jun 4, 2017 at 6:12 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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