EPIC WIN: Hundreds of Toronto Anonymous PARTY HARD at March 15 Scientology Protest
Hundreds of Anonymous filled the sidewalk opposite the Toronto “Church” of Scientology on Saturday March 15 in the most recent major day of protest against the human rights abusing practices of the Cult of Scientology. Most attendance estimates seem to be in the 200-300 range. Police were very friendly and supportive. Protestors were enthusiastic, friendly and law-abiding. However, as was expected, the Co$ seems to have have sent out a number of its members to masquerade as protestors (well, technically everyone was wearing a mask…) in order to attempt to obtain information from protestors and in some cases engage in or attempt to provoke illegal behaviours. In their bravery and willingness to confront conflicting points of view, they shut down the building and drew all curtains shut (with the exception of the main entrance, which was blocked by police officers anyway), and rumour has it that they also had all members of the organization below the rank of OT3 (the level at which Scientologists learn about Xenu) evacuated from the premises in advance (apparently a number of Scientologists *live* in the Toronto Co$ building!). CTV, the Torontoist, the Toronto Sun, and presumably other local and national media representatives were on hand. Read on for more commentary and pictures.
The protest begun at about 11 AM and died off at around 5:30 PM. Here is a 1-minute video which gives a pretty good impression of the size of the crowd and the general vibe of the day. Here are some pictures of the crowd.
The protestors were very enthusiastic. The most prominent chant of the day would probably have to be “IT’S A CULT! IT’S A CULT!”. Other chants included “RON IS GONE BUT THE CON GOES ON!”, “WE CAN HELP!” (i.e., help Scientologists who have been essentially trapped in the cult by way of threats of social disconnection with friends and family, blackmail, harassment, physical barriers, guilt-trips, etc.), “RECONNECT!” (a chant encouraging the reconnection of Scientologists with family and friends whom they have been estranged from as a result of the Co$’s disconnection policy), “CULT NOT RELIGION!”, “LLLLLL ROOOOONNNNN!!!” (a la DARRRRRRYLLLLLL, from The Simpsons), and so on. Protestors also sung a number of renditions of Happy Birthday (and subsequently chanted “WE WANT CAKE!”), as the late L. Ron Hubbard’s birthday was on Thursday March 13.
Signs displayed such messages as “Terrori$t Cult”, “CULT”, “Church closed due to scam”, “Google Fair Game/Operation Freakout/Operation Snow White/Lisa McPherson/Paulette Cooper”, “Faith is a belief not a franchise”, “Knowledge should be free”, “Darwin would disapprove”, “Tom Cruise cannot fly”, “Scientology tears families apart”, “Don’t worry, we’re from the Internet.”(I loved this one!), “Cult not Religion”, “Proud to be an SP”, and “Please let us help you”.
How did the Co$ respond to the protest? Well, for starters they pulled all the curtains down on the main floor (excluding the main entrance, which was “protected” by police officers) and most of the windows throughout the rest of the building, as can be seen in this picture.
They also seem to have had Scientologists masquerade as protestors in order to solicit information from protestors (e.g., their names) and to engage in or attempt to incite illegal behaviours. In one case, one of these people hurled an apple at the Co$ building, which ended up hitting someone. The hurler then ran away, being chased by a protestor. Another apparent Scientologist incognito attempted to encourage protestors to riot against the police officers (who were great, as I mentioned above), then heaped snow at some of the officers and ran away. Now, why do I and everyone else I spoke to think that these people were Scientologists and not simply aggressive protestors? A few reasons. Firstly, the protesting community has a well-established internal zero-tolerance policy for illegal acts. The Anonymous community knows that the Co$ wants nothing more than for protestors to engage in illegal, violent and/or hate crime-type behaviour, so that the Co$ can cry religious bigotry, victimization, and violence to its own members, the justice system, and the media, and hopefully be able to secure restraining orders so as to stop protests. Strong discouragement of all illegal behaviour has been a fixture in online discussion forums and at the protests. Hence, anyone in their right mind who genuinely wanted Anonymous to succeed would not do anything of the sort. Of course, one could argue that there were protestors who were not in their right mind. This, indeed, is a possibility. But the Co$ has everything to gain by creating the appearance of a violent, criminal, terrorist, bigotted opposition, and they already have a well-established track record of attempting to lie to and about opposition in order to stave of criticism and further the Co$ agendas. For instance, they are known to have attempted to frame critics Paulette Cooper for two bomb threats, Jesse Prince for marijuana possession, and Bob Minton for illegal economic practices.
One of the more popular protest attendees was Gregg Hagglund, who some are calling the Wise Beard Man of the North, in reference to the original Wise Beard Man, Mark Bunker, who is one of the most active thorns in the side of the Co$ and runs XenuTV.com, the Wog Blog, and the XenuTV1 Youtube video channel. Hagglund spoke of his experiences as a protestor of Scientology over the years. He claimed that the Co$ has tried to assassinate him, ruined his acting career, attempted to ruin his wife’s career as a teacher by aggressively badgering her school telling them that she is a hate mongerer, and so on. Here is Gregg speaking to a small group of protestors after the protest had wound down.
While most of the protestors spent most of their time on the side of the street opposite the Co$’s main entrance, Gregg maintained a small group of intrigued protestors across the street from the other side of the Co$ building, which usually ranged in size from 7 to nearly 20 people.
As 5 O’Clock neared and the protest wound down, protestors reminded the Co$ that the two groups would meet again in April. And in May. And in June. And in July. And every month until the wall of silence falls to rubble and the truth of the organization’s oppression of free speech, free thought, abuse of members and their families and friends, critics, and the entirety of the organization’s illegal and unethical behaviour is brought to public light and is ceased.
The next protest is entitled Operation Reconnect. Its purpose is to oppose the Co$’s Disconnection policy, which requires Scientologists to not speak to anyone that has been declared a Suppressive Person (i.e., one who opposes Scientology), including family and friends. Its purpose is to raise public awareness of this practice of severing familial bonds and friendships, and to help disconnected people reconnect. View short informational video here.
[All pictures in this post obtained here. Click link for more pictures.]
For more posts on Scientology, click here.