This is Photojournalist Fred G. Haseney with his eye on scientology. Normally, I report from the Pacific Area Command Base (“PAC Base” or “Big Blue”), the so-called “church” of scientology’s West Coast headquarters, located on L. Ron Hubbard Way (“LRH Way”). On Saturday, June 11, 2016, I visited, instead, scientology’s Celebrity Centre International (“CCI”), located at 5930 Franklin Ave., in Hollywood. That day, CCI held two seminars: the first at 12:30 PM, an acting seminar (which I’ve already reported on), and the second at 6:30 PM, a Valley Ideal Org Awards Dinner. What I didn’t know is that CCI actually had a third event that day. As a result, Phil and Willie’s “call me” sign got even more traffic than I had hoped for (in fact, CCI actually had a traffic jam on their hands and couldn’t valet park guests fast enough).
Phil and Willie Jones are the authors of a billboard erected in April 2016, over Glendale Blvd., in the Echo Park district of Los Angeles. That billboard, now available in smaller signs with a corrugated backing (perfect for carrying while protesting) or a magnetic backing (great for affixing to the sides of a car) reads: “To my loved one in scientology… call me.” Phil and Willie are ex-scientologists, critical of scientology’s toxic practice of “disconnection.” When Phil and Willie left scientology and spoke out against it, their adult children, still trapped in scientology’s Sea Org (“SO”), were forced to cut all ties with them. I protested CCI’s 6:30 PM event with a “call me” sign that hung from my neck, which gave me the opportunity to take photos. In addition, I had a mini-camcorder snapped to the top of my sign.
I went to CCI in order to protest an event held for the Valley Ideal Org. A promotional flier for that event reads as follows: “Valley in Lights. Special guest speaker, Mr. Dave Petit, Commanding Officer, CCI. Musical performance by Michael Duff. Awards dinner and Ideal Org event. Saturday, June 11, 2016, 6:30 PM. Par Tierre Gardens.”
Video: “Call Me” Protest—Hollywood, California—June 11, 2016, 6:30 PM—Footbullets
- 00:01: I’m standing on Bronson Ave., looking north at Franklin Ave. CCI is to my left.
- 00:09: A car pulls into an elevated driveway. Behind the car is a sign that proclaims that tours are available. To the right of that sign is a bulletin board on which acting seminar flyers are posted.
- 00:27: A pedestrian spots the “call me” sign as she enters the parking lot. I say “Thank you” for reading the sign. As she walks up the driveway, she looks at it for a few more moments.
- 00:45: A vehicle slows down, perhaps to take a few moments in order to read the “call me” sign. I turn and follow the vehicle in case the driver needs another moment or two. Other vehicles drive by slowly, each perhaps taking a moment to read the sign.
- 01:20: A vehicle in the northbound lane signals in order to make a right turn into CCI’s parking lot. While waiting, another vehicle pulls in and discharges a passenger.
- 01:59: The vehicle patiently waits its turn as another car arrives while a van leaves.
- 02:08: One or more people in the vehicle have read Phil and Willie’s message of love, and I thank them for doing so.
- 02:20: A SG videotapes me as a pedestrian arrives. A man talks to the driver of the vehicle that just pulled in.
- 02:35: More vehicles arrive. It’s at about this point that I realize that the people arriving do not look like Valley Ideal Org event goers. These cars are nicer; their drivers and passengers are far better dressed. In hind sight, the type of event goer for the evening resembled more the type who would attend an elegant concert at the Music Center or the Disney Concert Hall. Besides, people I knew who were associated with the Valley Ideal Org (Kevin and Barbara Wilson, Kari Shaw, Mary Lee Krackow, among others) had not yet arrived, at least not at this driveway (half a block south of this location, there’s another CCI driveway that’s for underground parking; perhaps that’s where they collected the vehicles for that venue).
- 02:37: The driver of a vehicle that’s just pulled into the driveway looks at the sign, and I thank him for doing so.
- 02:54: A pedestrian passes to my left and I thank her for reading the “call me” sign. Notice that the SG stops filming me and smiles as she walks by, apparently on her way to an event.
- 03:03: A SG arrives, walking a bicycle, and joins the other SG. As traffic increases, so does the opportunity to share Phil and Willie’s message of love. Across the street are two Sea Org members who appear to be on a scientology course, perhaps doing a drill. She may be the “coach,” as she holds a clipboard. He may be her “twin.” They notice me but soon leave (perhaps after being silently alerted by one of the SGs standing behind me).
- 03:13: As a scientology-owned shuttle drives by, the SG who just arrived talks to the other guard. “Wow. You know, our parking lot is so full, we’ve had to open up the other parking lot.”
- 03:28: That SG says to me, “You’d better not go down to Hollywood Bowl and harass our public down there either because they have to take the shuttle.” He probably didn’t see the mini-camcorder on my sign when he volunteered this information. Scientology has another parking lot? At the Hollywood Bowl? I’ve known scientology had off-campus parking, but I didn’t know where. “I can’t hear you,” is my reply to the SG because I’m wearing headphones. I do this at all protests because the loud music from an MP3 Player helps drown out comments made by PAC SGs when they oppose the exercising of one’s First Amendment Rights. As stated by the American Civil Liberties Union, “The right to join with fellow citizens in protest or peaceful assembly is critical to a functioning democracy.” Standing up for my right to protest can be challenging to say the least. Extended remixes by Billy Idol, Madonna, Tears For Fears, and others, help keep me focused without being distracted by what a SG says. I tell the SG that I can’t hear what he’s saying because Paul Young is singing to me through the headphones. British musician Paul Young is best-known, perhaps, for the hit single, “Every Time You Go Away,” a remixed, extended version of which I had playing when the SG told me about public parking. The other SG, however, hears only the word “young,” and goes off an a diatribe, something he’s done before in which he accuses me of showing up at CCI when there are little girls and little boys present. I can actually hear a little bit of what he’s saying, so I talk a little further about the song I’m listening to. “You always show up, ” the SG says, “when I have kids at it. What’s your deal? What’s your deal, Fred” He knows my name. “It’s a ‘footbullet,'” I tell the guy. “every time you say something wrong, something that’s a lie, something that’s a rumor, it doesn’t work because it’s not a ‘button.'” The SG answers when he says, “I got you.”
- 04:05: A pedestrian walks by and takes a moment to read the “call me” sign; I say, “Hello,” and add, “Thank you so much for reading my sign.” The SG continues with his banter, something I want absolutely no part of. Instead of responding to him, I say, “Phil and Willie Jones want to say ‘hello’ to their son and daughter.” The SG, however, loses it and shouts, “FRED!” (This might be why the next time I show up, he doesn’t say a single word to me. And it won’t be because he’s upset with me, but because the person or people who reviewed his videotape of me most likely told him to KNOCK IT OFF.) He attempts to get my attention by saying, “Fred” again. He goes on: “Explain to me the small boys and small girls thing.” I tell him, “Footbullets.” The SG says, “Okay. Whatever.” I chuckle, and say “Footbullets” again. He tries to repeat the same statement, and I respond with “Footbullets, footbullets. You had an event at 12:30 PM today. It was an acting seminar. And now you’re having another one. Something to do with the Valley. Valley Ideal Org Awards.” The SG continues his train of thought, to which I say, “And I’m here to get Phil and Willie’s message seen, and guess what? It’s being seen. And I’m documenting it just as well as you are documenting me.” He banters on and on with “The little boys and little girls have left, just so you know.” I stop responding with the word “Footbullets.”
- 05:37: When the SG started talking about “hundreds of cars,” I could hear him saying something, so I let him know that I’m listening to musician Billy Idol, great stereo, full surround sound, instead of him. He’s like “a drone in the background, like a little bug,” I add as the other SG bicycles away, “but it’s okay, you’ll go away soon.”
- 06:00: When the SG asks me about little boys and girls, “What’s the scoop on that,” I say, “You’re only amusing yourself and spreading lies and rumors.” The SG asks, “Do I look amused,” as more vehicles arrive, increasing the opportunity for event goers to see the “call me” sign. Actually, there’s so much traffic, it’s become backed up, with traffic extending in the southbound lane as far north as Franklin Ave. I suspect that the SG is hoping to provoke me so he can justify removing me from the location. “Some day when you leave [the Sea Org], you’ll find out that this [protesting] is fun.” I explain how wonderful it is to fight back, to do something against the church that suppressed me for thirty-seven years. I ask the SG how long he’s been in scientology, but he doesn’t answer the question
- 07:21: Parking attendants arrive to help with the extra vehicle arriving for the event. I didn’t see anyone who looked liked they had arrived for the Valley Ideal Org Awards Dinner. (End of “Footbullets” video.)
Video: “Call Me” Protest—Hollywood, California—June 11, 2016, 6:30 PM—Lockdown
- 00:01: For this video, I’m standing on the east side of Bronson Ave., across the street from CCI. In front of me is a different SG than the one who kept delivering “footbullets” in the last video. Behind him is an apartment building apparently owned by scientology and used to house Sea Org staff members. Behind the SG, an elderly woman exists the door. He waves at her, tells her that I’m videotaping and harassing people and asks her to go back inside. The woman goes to the front door but does not step inside.
- 00:18: “This sign,” I say, “is nothing but love, it’s a message of love. Love. L. O. V. E. Love.” In the background, the woman goes back into the building. I add, “Lockdown,” because that’s what he just did. He locked down the facility. (End of “Lockdown” video.)
Video: “Call Me” Protest—Hollywood, California—June 11, 2016, 6:30 PM—Number of Cars
- 00:01: I’m standing outside the elevated entrance to one of CCI’s parking lots, facing north with Franklin Ave. seen at the intersection.
- 00:44: “Are you counting them all?” the footbullet-delivering SG asks. “Are you counting the number of cars that are coming onto my property?” After I apologize for being in the way of a pedestrian, the SG delivers another footbullet: “Are you keeping track of that? Are you keeping some sort of score card on how many cars continue to come into my property?” (End of “Number of Cars” video.)
Video: “Call Me” Protest—Hollywood, California—June 11, 2016, 6:30 PM—So Many Questions
- 00:01: For this video, I am walking west on the north side of Franklin Ave., with Bronson Ave. behind me and CCI to my left. There are restaurants up and down this strip, with plenty of outside seating.
- 00:15: I pause to let a few people read the “call me” sign, and I thank them.
- 00:42: Across the street, behind the walls, fences and trees sits CCI.
- 01:03: This is great! Notice the three people sitting to my right. The woman who is writing something on a piece of paper is a real estate agent. She’s brought her dog, “Rain,” to the SushiStop. Two of her associates continue to notice me. As I walk by, I thank them for reading the sign. One of the girls, however, says, “Wait, wait.” I turn to them and the girl closest to me asks, “Are you trying to stop it?” I say, “Yes, I am.” She asks again, and I give her an affirmative answer to which she responds, “Good job!” The real estate says, “Aw, that’s amazing,” then asks, “You’re saving them?” “How do you get them out?” the other girl asks. “How do you get them out? I hear they’re in for life.” “It’s going to have to be a change in [church] policy,” I say, “they’re going to have to, eventually.” She asks, “Are you a former scientologist?” “Thirty-seven years,” is my response. She repeats, “Thirty-seven years,” while the real estate agent asks, “Really? Can you sit down and talk with us about it for a minute?” I chuckle, as one says, “… and tell us what it’s really like. We’ve got so-o-o-o-o many questions.” (End of “So Many Questions” video.)
I sat down for probably ten or fifteen minutes. They had so many questions! And I had so many answers! At one point, the real estate asked me where the church’s leader [David Miscavige] lives. But, before I could answer, she said, “What about that compound up that’s up in the hills? If anyone goes anywhere near that place, security descends upon them.” From what she said, it appears that scientology has recently purchased property, probably an estate, where someone important to scientology is staying. Just before I left so I could return to my protest, the three of them all agreed that they would be joining me in the protest. And they did—with aces!
Video: “Call Me” Protest—Hollywood, California—June 11, 2016, 6:30 PM—Message for Mike
- 00:01: I’m standing on the sidewalk with Bronson Ave. behind me. The footbullet-delivering SG is videotaping me. Notice the unique way he holds the camera. I state, “So, here I am. It’s the five o’clock hour on Saturday, June 14 [it’s really June 11], standing outside of Celerity Centre International, off of Bronson Ave., near Franklin, and I have a message. Please tell Mike Jones that his parents still love him. His parents being Phil and Willie Jones. End of message. Thank you.” (End of “Message for Mike” video.)
Photo Caption: In this composite of four pictures, a bicyclist stops between the accelerated driveway at CCI and Franklin Ave. He parks his bike, removes his camera, and walks toward the “call me” sign. With each step of the way, he’s focused more and more on Phil and Willie’s message. He got close to it and really needed to understand it. Then he took a picture (or three).
Photo Caption: My new-found friends and anti-scientology supporters helped the cause in so many ways. Here, they drive slowly past the elevated entrance to CCI’s parking lot, laughing, taking pictures and video of CCI’s Security Guard videotaping me. This composite shows a close-up of their activity.
Photo Caption: Here’s another shot of my new friends; this composite shows a another close-up of their activity.
Photo Caption: Sweethearts! My new-found friends drove up and down the street at least three different times. At one point, they stopped in the middle of traffic, and were busy telling scientology where to get off. When someone behind honked their horn, my friends didn’t move because they really had a point to make.
Photo Caption: When I got bored with the location at Bronson Avenue’s elevated driveway to CCI, I’d gather my SG companion, tell him where we were going, and then leave (with the SG in tow). Here I stand on the southwest corner of Franklin and Bronson Avenues, with CCI behind me and to my left. With the “call me” sign hanging from around my neck, I shot pictures of this gentleman as he crossed the street. Thank you, kind citizen, for reading the sign and for being so wonderful to me.
Photo Caption: Traffic jam at the corner of Franklin and Bronson Avenues.
Photo Caption: CCI had a traffic jam on their hands, not just because of the Valley Ideal Org Awards Dinner, but because they also held a concert. After a car stopped nearby, I noticed the driver held a document of which I took a few pictures of. Notice in this composite the picture of that document in the lower right-hand corner. That document is a ticket printed by the driver so he could attend a benefit concert: “TintoTango plays Piazzolla,” featuring Argentinean singer Martin de Leon.
All images (unless noted otherwise) © 2015—2016 Fred G. Haseney. All rights reserved.