Reports from protest against the Co$, Manchester, April 4th 1998

Report by Dave B.

I was a guest, along with Duke the Dog, at the first picket of the bOrg in Manchester, UK [a large city in the NW about 200 miles from London]. We met in a nearby pub, and I want with one of the organisers to greet the clams at noon. About six people came out, two then three then one, being very careful not to see or hear us; no doubt they were intending us to not be there. A staffer emerged and said they would "soon have us moved on." They didn't.

By the time we came back for the full demo there were about a dozen or fifteen of us --- I didn't count exactly. There was a fair amount of shouting and occasional songs. One clam came out and asked me my name: "Xemu Etrawl, that's X,E,M,U, E, T, R, A, W, L." "What's your present life name?" "That is my present life name. By the way, what's your name?". No answer. He had very ppor TR0: couldn't look any of us in the face. We also had a guy there in the Xemu costume and space alien head. JohnR was also there from the south.

The receptionist clam was on the phone for ages. I held up an imaginary phone and shouted out the likely conversation: "Hello? Saint Hill? I tried to think for myself, now tell me what to do." The public were very keen to take leaflets; sometimes cars stopped on Deans Gate and people held their hands out the car windows for leaflets. It rained occasionally (Manchester is notorious for raining most of the time), but our spirits were undampened. The picket went on until 4pm, and a jolly good time was had by all the picketers. The bOrg is only a stone's throw from Deans Gate local rail station, and from there to the main Picadilly station and onto the train home.

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In a<>, "Ted Mayett (KOX)"  writes:
>On Sun, 5 Apr 1998 00:11:51 +0100, John Ritson wrote:
>>Scientology's only significant presence in the north of England was
>>woken up from its semi-comatose state today.
>From Dave-Bird we learn that this was the first picket on this org.
>And so more info is needed, please.
>How many clams?

The bOrg is located in Deans Gate, a long straight wide road which runs from the town centre: the Org is at the far end, definitely on the fringes of the centre. There is plenty of vehicle traffic, often pulled up near us for a few moments. Foot traffic -- at least on saturday -- is sparse. Typically you could count to 15 or 20 seconds then see a group of two or three people coming towards us.

The bOrg is a typical 20ft shop unit: I imagine there are two or three floors and a cellar. It says "DIANETICS CENTRE", not Scientology. The front window has various Scn books -- Dianetics, Scn: a New Slant on Life, but not [sadly] Scn: a History of Man. The downstairs is like the London bOrg, laid out with tables for personality tests or whatever. Unlike London, the reception desk is at the back with a door--presumably to the staircase?---and a bust of Fat Ron opposite it. I don't know whether there are PL's on Org layout?? Birmingham bOrg, given it is a first floor without a shopfront, has a similar layout to London with the reg's desk by the door and the reg's little office at the rear right side.

As I described six clams emerged at lunch. There were additional to these an ugly geek with short cropped hair who seemed to be in charge, and came to the door with his sidekick saying they would have us moved. The rather dim one who came out and asked me for my name or business card was probably one of the first two to emerge. The last guy to emergy was a rather feisty clam in a shell(!) suit, who later went back and forth trainling a young child, and his wife [presumably] came back and forth of a couple of occasions then finally left with him and their child.

I assume that Manchester Foundation consists of crophead, dimbulb, the receptionist, shellsuit and his wife, two more staff, and three more students. I don't know whether they've made any progress figuring out who we are yet. Presumably at some stage St Hill will tell them that Dave Bird and John Ritson were there as guests from the southern lot. After that, they'll have to think for themselves. There aren't many more bOrgs worth visiting in the UK, are there. I dunno: 14/3 and 28/3 Poole, 4/4 Manchester, where next week??

>How many vehicles?

If there is a carpark it is at the back with access to another road; this is an area with good, widely-used public transport though.

>What was the general appearance of the org?

It could do with a coat of paint on the sign.

It's at the edge of town. There is prosperity and rebuilding in Manchester, as well as poor areas. I did not see any places boarded up or flyposted by the Org. But it is not far off; mo shopwner drives to work in a Mercedes on the living there.

Report by John R.

Scientology's only significant presence in the north of England was woken up from its semi-comatose state today.

About a dozen Manchester suppressives plus Dave Bird, yours truly and 'Duke' the loveable toy dog in waterwings (in memory of Judge Swearinger's drowned dog) turned up outside the Manchester 'org' with leaflets, placards, petitions, Xenu in full costume, and a real dog.

After phoning Saint Hill for orders, and the standard phone call to the police (who as always had been notified beforehand, and confirmed that we were perfectly within our rights) the clams applied David Miscavige's brilliant new squirrel strategy of failing to confront. So both sides of the road containing the 'org' were occupied by pickets loudly explaining the crimes of Scientology while the clams hid away.

We had so many picketers that detachments were sent out to the main shopping areas to leaflet and collect signatures calling for a government inquiry into Scientology. Although this was the first picket in Manchester, public awareness was already high. Passers-by would say things like 'Scientology - That's that L. Ron Hubbard. He was a bastard, wasn't he?'. One woman was glad to receive information because her friend's husband was in contact with the cult. Others had been annoyed by body-routers. As long as we kept stressing 'AGAINST Scientology' we had nothing but positive reactions.

All agreed that it had been a very successful demonstration. The Manchester suppressives must be congratulated for their magnificent organisational abilities. Pity the 'org' could not muster any Sea Org loonies for us to humiliate.

Report by Marcus H.

Last Saturday we surprised the Manchester org with the first picket they've ever had to our knowledge - and it became quite clear that they are none too popular with my fellow Mancunians.

Dave Bird and I did a quick foray to get the students going to lunch at five to twelve, the staff saw us and came out to confront us. The staff member who talked to us asked for copies of our leaflets - which I gave them with the greatest of pleasure. "You know you're going to be moved on soon," he told us, "we're calling the police." I don't think he was overly impressed when I urged him to do so, having cleared everything with the police weeks in advance. The students came out a few minutes after twelve, and it seemed they'd been briefed not to talk to us, since they all passed by without making eye contact or taking a leaflet, despite our repeated urgings to "Think For Yourself". The staff guy who had taken the leaflets came back out to tell us the police were on their way and - to my utter surprise - gave me the leaflets back. It being five past twelve, after another staff member went past us with the withering counterargument of "Fuck off," we adjourned to the public house to meet up with the remaining Sps.

By the time we set off for the main picket, we had myself, Dave, John R., a local friend of Dave's from and nine of my local recruits. Half of us stayed by the org, the other half going into town where there is a perceptible amount of foot traffic. By all reports, the "away team" did rather well, handing out a load of leaflets and gathering thirty or forty petition signatures within an hour and a half in the nice environs of the Arndale centre. Meanwhile, the rest of us were treated to the wonderful Manchester weather - if it werenn't so typical, I would have sworn the OT intention beams had caused the regular torrential downpors which threatened picket signs, petition forms and leaflets alike. One of the clams (who claimed to be a mere student) came out, displaying very poor TR0, and was most disturbed to find that all the picketers were named Xemu. Shortly afterwards, the inevitable police visit came along. The police were quite happy with us, but told us there is a national law against the use of amplification on the street (which was news to the folk who had used it on many occasions elsewhere), and went in to tell the scienos that they weren't going to move us on.

Despite the lack of a megaphone, the loud gits among us continued to make as much if not more noise than an amplified Dave and gathered more signatures, handed out a bunch of leaflets and had several people in the traffic queues that build up outside the org wind down their windows and ask for leaflets or, in two cases, pull up and ask to sign the petition.

At about half past two, just after the police shift change, another police visit ensued. Apparently, we were being "intimidating" and thus preventing the unquenchable flow of people that regularly stream through the org's doors from doing so, and we were told to leave only four people by the org. No problem - two either side continued to do a great trade through the continued nonconfront, with more SPs over the road getting support. Another away team ensued when half a dozen more local SPs turned up to lend a hand, but by this time (maybe three) town had begun to get quiet. Shortly after four, we called it a day and retired for a couple more drinks to the hostelry, leaving the three Xemu balloons for the landlord's kids.

Throughout the picket, we had people come up and ask to sign the petition, including some former $cientologists and people with friends and relatives in the cult, and lots of honks and cheers from passing cars. A good time was had by all, as they say, and we shall certainly be doing it again - so look out, Manchester org, we'll remain at cause over you for some time yet.

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