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Victory Against Racist Store in Los Angeles

by Julia Wallace Saturday, Jan. 15, 2005 at 10:07 AM
love_supreme@excite.com (310) 404-6729

All Phone Wholesale had signs on its store fronts which said " Palestinians are Pigs, murderous scum Pigs" and more. This is an article about the campagin against the store and its recent victory

In Our Hands is Placed a Power

By Julia Wallace

Right before a planning committee meeting, Progressive Alliance, a socialist group based in Santa Monica had its weekly meeting one of the members said he parked in front of a store which had signs in its windows reading, " Palestinians are Pigs, murderous scum Pigs" and called Arabs " Rag head terrorist pigs". We were naïve enough to think that a racist bigot would not dare poke their heads out in Santa Monica.. After the meeting we walked to the store ( All Phone Wholesale 2919 Pico Blvd http://www.allphone.com/) and saw that it was true. This started our campaign against All Phone Wholesale.

Less than two weeks later we presented an idea of a protest to a mass meeting at Santa Monica college. We decided on September 23rd to have a protest during the day first marching through the campus and then to her store. We also found out that the store owner Bunnie Meyer was does business with Samsung so we assigned someone to write them a letter saying we would protest their business too if they continued to do business with them. We also contacted groups such as the Muslim Public Affairs Council, Imam Faith Center, Women in Black, and the National Lawyers Guild and others and received a good response. We also posted an announcement on indymedia.com.

The day of the protest we started with 30 people but by the time we marched around the campus that number grew to about 50. We marched down Pico and when we got there we had a crowd of people waiting from Women in Black, the National Lawyers Guild and of course Santa Monica Police Department. A rough end count is 70 people. We had several people speak and I led some chants. Then Bunnie Meyer began to scream at us with her bullhorn, however, because she was inside of the building screaming through the window we couldn't understand what she was saying. We beckoned her to come outside only to be confronted with a very strange, mentally unstable person. I remember her calling us "Hamas suicide bombers". She retired back inside and but later screamed through the window again. Someone suggested we listen to her. But her signs said more than enough! After 45 minutes we marched back to Santa Monica College. I later found out through one of the Legal Observers we had from the National Lawyers Guild that Meyer said to a police officer, " If one of them [protesters ]comes into my store I will shoot them". In the end CityBeat did an article on the protest http://www.lacitybeat.com/article.php?id=1288&IssueNum=70 . Besides that not much press.

On our way back to the college we saw some construction workers working on the street. They were sympathetic and told us, "The real person you should go after is the Lares family, they own that whole block". Luckily one of our protestors Alice Wallace is a real estate agent. She was able to confirm that the Lares family, a Mexican family which has been on that corner since 1968 owns the property All Phone Wholesale was located on. http://www.laresrestaurant.com/. She gave us their information including their home address.

After 2 months we had not heard anything from Samsung and it looked like Bunnie Meyer would not take down her signs. We talked with Jeremy Prickett, a member of Labors Militant Voice, a socialist organization myself and others belong to http://www.laborsmilitantvoice.com/ and he suggested that we expose the landlord to the Santa Monica community. We planned another protest/march similar to the one in September only this time we would publicize the fact that Lares was doing business with a racist. We had decided to give them a chance by politely presenting a letter to them about Bunnie Meyer and her signs. They ignored our warning. The Muslim Public Affairs Council held a press conference in front of the store as well. They were able to get mass based groups such as the Anti-Defamation League to support us and condemn Meyer. They were also able to get network television stations to cover the issue. None of these however fazed Bunnie Meyer.

The next protest was mid day and we managed to gather up around 40 people from Santa Monica College again and then marched to the restaurant two stores up. We started chanting and telling the customers to come out of the store. The manager came out and we asked him what he thought about the situation. He said Bunnie Meyer's "pays her rent on time". We asked him if he knew that Meyer had a sign which said, "Mexicans are a bunch of Third World circus freaks" (the manager is Mexican) he reminded us…"she pays her rent on time" and that, "their hands are tied". We walked to All Phone and had a demonstration there. We passed the bullhorn to anyone who wanted to speak. A man talked about how the signs hit close to home for him. Bunnie Meyer mentioned in the CityBeat article that she is a member of the Jewish Defense League. This organization tried to burn down a Mosque in 2001. The man was in the mosque when the bomb was found. We also had Shireen from the Muslim Public Affairs council speak about the issue.

Unlike the last protest Bunnie Meyer didn't not come out of her hole, we called her cell phone ( the number is located on the website ) and she said, the police advised her not to(!). We returned to Lares restaurant and the daughter of the owners tried to sneak behind the protest though an alleyway, maybe she only wanted to talk to one of us privately. Those of us who saw her called her out. She started telling us, "We need to go back to school and study the law". We got her to agree that she did not like the signs and then we talked her into saying that Lares would not uphold the lease. We learned then that Lares was a more effective target than All Phone Wholesale because Meyer's customers probably placed orders over the phone rather than visiting the store but the Lares restaurant was dependent on a loyal stream of customers.

A week and a half after that we had a Friday night protest in front of Lares restaurant only. The restaurant was almost full. We were a crowd was 20 strong with many of the same organizations plus a few more who heard about the protest from an announcement made on KPFK. Josh Saxe led the protest chanting that the restaurant is racist for not criticizing Meyer and exposed the Lares family to their customers. Telemundo and KTLA 5 were also there interviewing people. With all the press and shouting we were able to turn customers away and make people actually leave the restaurant. The landlord himself, Jessie Lares came out to ask us nicely to leave. He was so polite and friendly! He tried to get our sympathy but the crowd would not back down. He is the same person who blew us off when we politely presented the letter! Then his wife came outside with less congeniality. We grew even louder. Some big guys who were associated with the Lares clan confronted us at the door. They tried to intimidate us and threatened violence. We refused to leave. After 2 hours of chanting outside of Lares we reconvened at the 99 cent store on the corner. A group was selected which would meet with the landlord and try to pressure him to pressure Meyer. Although legally we couldn't not force Bunnie to take down the signs we made it clear to the landlord that we would not stop until Meyer gave in. We also planned another committee meeting for that following Monday to decide what to do next. We had the Lares home address and were prepared to make a "house call" if necessary.

An hour before the Monday meeting we learned that Bunnie Meyer, removed almost all of her signs because of pressure from the landlord. "We stand with Israel" is still there. She wrote a letter apologizing to the landlord for getting him involved, she also said that when we " Palestinian pigs are dancing in the streets [because of the news] that she hopes we are hit with a Humvee so we can met 70 virgins in heaven". After letting us read the letter the landlord said we had crucified him (?!), that he did nothing wrong and he didn't agree with the store signs either. Bunnie also wrote that she would be relocating to San Diego where her life would be less stressful. -If anyone reading this is located in San Diego, here is a possible target-.

None of us have illusions that we have changed the nature of racism or halted in any way the slimy undercurrent of racism in society. To end racism would mean an end to the economic and political system we are all subjected to, that is capitalism. Today more than ever the government has taken a two pronged attack on people in America in terms of race. It uses the fear of unemployment to ferment hatred against Latinos and conjures up hatred against Arabs and Muslims. With these newly found victims of bigotry the government has taken away civil liberties and saturated corporations with profit while we are expected to scramble amongst ourselves whatever may be left. Bunnie Meyer has only bought into the scheme a little more.

But what I learned and I think many other people saw in this campaign is the power of mobilization. Legally, we did not have a case to make Bunnie Meyer take down her signs down and even if we did the procedure would have taken years killing a momentum. If we took on a letter writing campaign our work would have ended up in a garbage cans of Samsung and Lares. If we had a series of forums on the issue at Santa Monica College it would have "raised awareness" but the signs on the store would be still be there and Bunnie Meyer would feel vindicated instead of "stressed". None of us had been involved in a community based campaign before. The leaders of the protest ranged from committed socialists who only had experience on college campuses, to people whose only other political experience were the latest anti-war protests. We were inexperienced and had few resources but we won! "In our hands is place a power…" is from an song called Solidarity Forever. Because of the All Phone campaign many of us see the power that we have talked about and were willing to take it in our hands. If you get something from this article I hope it is that direct action works and you only need to take it into your hands to find out.

Julia Wallace



Progressive Alliance is now organizing with the workers of Glatt Market who have just lost their livelihood when the store burned down. We are demanding back wages for the hours they worked but were paid less than minimum wage, replacement jobs, and back pay for the overtime they never received.



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LATEST COMMENTS ABOUT THIS ARTICLE
Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 52 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
TITLE AUTHOR DATE
Bunnie Sucks Michael George Saturday, Jan. 15, 2005 at 12:57 PM
Nothing changed. Bunnie rocks Saturday, Jan. 15, 2005 at 2:13 PM
Are you kidding me Michael? Julia Wallace Saturday, Jan. 15, 2005 at 2:25 PM
George Orwell X Saturday, Jan. 15, 2005 at 8:30 PM
X-tremely the Stupid brigg Saturday, Jan. 15, 2005 at 8:43 PM
oh really Sheepdog Saturday, Jan. 15, 2005 at 10:36 PM
Now sheepdog declares himself an anarchist. Jack Mehoffer Sunday, Jan. 16, 2005 at 11:51 AM
anarchist? Sheepdog Sunday, Jan. 16, 2005 at 6:16 PM
fresca hmmm... Sunday, Jan. 16, 2005 at 8:25 PM
don't talk to me... Sheepdog Sunday, Jan. 16, 2005 at 10:12 PM
Answer the question, sheepdog. Jack Mehoffer Sunday, Jan. 16, 2005 at 2:42 AM
Jack, Jack... Sheepdog Sunday, Jan. 16, 2005 at 3:48 AM
America! America! Jack Mehoffer Sunday, Jan. 16, 2005 at 6:26 AM
my bike.... Sheepdog Sunday, Jan. 16, 2005 at 8:23 PM
Capitalists do make the best motorcycles. Jack Mehoffer Sunday, Jan. 16, 2005 at 9:04 PM
Harlyey Davidson? Sheepdog Sunday, Jan. 16, 2005 at 9:22 PM
Often imitated. Never duplicated. Jack Mehoffer Sunday, Jan. 16, 2005 at 9:31 PM
spastic fingers and a fat head. Sheepdog Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2005 at 11:45 AM
"key board" is one word. Jack Mehoffer Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2005 at 12:00 PM
Obfuscating leftist collaborators brigg Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2005 at 12:33 PM
socialistic corporations Sheepdog Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2005 at 1:15 PM
What? Sheepdog Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2005 at 1:22 PM
General Dynamics was not a Nazi Corportion brigg Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2005 at 1:28 PM
"Fascism = National Socialism" brigg Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2005 at 1:34 PM
how am I wrong by stating facts? Sheepdog Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2005 at 1:47 PM
screw you Sheepdog Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2005 at 2:03 PM
"facts" spoken: conspiratorial hogwash brigg Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2005 at 2:03 PM
Hey brigg Jack Mehoffer Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2005 at 2:16 PM
sheesh Sheepdog Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2005 at 6:42 PM
alotta speculation Don Key Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2005 at 7:16 PM
yeah, The Guardian Sheepdog Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2005 at 8:07 PM
Is that the best you've got? Jack Mehoffer Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2005 at 5:19 AM
"Bush family & IG Farben & third riech " Jack Mehoffer Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2005 at 5:42 AM
socialism and stalinism more rational Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2005 at 5:50 AM
And what gets me even more about these leftists... Jack Mehoffer Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2005 at 5:52 AM
stifling creativity? more rational Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2005 at 5:56 AM
national socialism is a right ideology more rational Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2005 at 6:03 AM
Finland is a post-socialist country. Jack Mehoffer Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2005 at 6:04 AM
Stalinism is a leftist ideology. Jack Mehoffer Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2005 at 6:09 AM
the nazis did have american support more rational Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2005 at 6:14 AM
insight mag is a right-wing rag more rational Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2005 at 6:18 AM
Don't forget Jews. Jack Mehoffer Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2005 at 6:21 AM
Attack the source, not the substance. Jack Mehoffer Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2005 at 6:25 AM
i'm not attacking the source. i'm attacking you. more rational Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2005 at 8:10 PM
I may not agree with you on everything... Jack Mehoffer Thursday, Jan. 20, 2005 at 1:40 PM
OneEyedMan KPC Thursday, Jan. 20, 2005 at 5:46 PM
Isn't that neat. Jack Mehoffer Thursday, Jan. 20, 2005 at 6:01 PM
if you like rational more rational Sunday, Jan. 23, 2005 at 2:34 AM
"Any leftist that denies Stalinism is the essence of socialism is simply in denial.&q more rational Sunday, Jan. 23, 2005 at 3:19 AM
Oh I'm wide awake... Jack Mehoffer Sunday, Jan. 23, 2005 at 12:12 PM
That doesn't mean squat. Jack Mehoffer Sunday, Jan. 23, 2005 at 12:56 PM

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