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Arnold's Hired Thug Petition Workers and Scare Tactics

by A. Citizen Saturday, Mar. 26, 2005 at 5:34 AM

The conduct Erica describes constitutes a violation of Penal Code Sec. 422 -- "terrorist threats" . The statute punishes threats of bodily harm which are so unequivocal and immediate as to cause the person threatened to be in sustained fear for her safety.

Intimidation and Scare Tactics: The tools of the Right

Yet more intimidation and scare tactic from the Right. This time it is Arnold cronies who are doing their best to make sure opposition is stiffled. Below is the personal account of a woman engaging in her first ammendment rights when she was confronted in a rather frightening manner by those who wish her message would never be heard.

The question to ask is why is the "peoples' governor" hiring out of state signature gatherers, some of which are allegedly felons, to intimidate and threaten young teachers out of standing up to his attempt to reduce their job security (as if teachers don't have it bad enough in our society...why not go after Ken Lay, Arnold...oh yeah....you guys are allies.)

Strange that this "man of the people" picks teachers and nurses as his enemies (and calls them "special interests") as he raises record sums of money from giant corporations that depend on his anti-consumer, pro-corporate agenda (see chart of where his $$ come from HERE ). Could this former steroid using body builder, turned shitty actor and serial woman groper, turned two-faced poltical con-artist, not be the "People's Governor" he claims to be?

This man needs to be exposed for what he is, and this is one more story that does this, now it depends on us to get the truth to the people."

Below is the letter sent by Erica to Assemblyman Mark Leno regarding her frightening experiences having her voice heard.

My name is Erica and I am a graduate student at San Francisco State. I am student teaching in Berkeley, specializing in Deaf/hard-of-hearing Education. In brief, I decided to go out alone and stand near a man who was collecting initiative signatures in front of the store. I was wearing a laminated, hand-made sign that read, "I am a teacher against Arnold's special election......ask me why."

I was shocked to encounter his immediate intimidation and threatening language. Within the first five minutes he said the following, "I'm going to call and get thirty guys down here. You won't be here long. There isn't a problem too big I can't handle. You won't last long". And from there it became completely out of control. Fifteen people arrived and attempted to surround me, hurling abrasive insults with aggressive voices. I was afraid for my safety. My husband and four other people drove down to protect me. I called the police.

The tactics were unbelievable. I stayed there four five hours in the rain under those conditions. I left with purple lips, shivering and all of us were followed to our cars. They wrote down license plate numbers. It was awful.

What is worse, they are all from Michigan!! They are paid by the signature and they have no vested interest in the welfare of California. It is ironic that Arnold claims to protect Californian's jobs, yet people are being flown in from other states to support his initiatives.

The story is much richer than I can explain in brief. I was interviewed my KPFA and the Contra Costa Times today. KPFA will air the story at 6:00pm tonight.

Please do not hesitate to discus this story with anyone. However, my husband and I would prefer to release my first name only at this time. We have reason to believe these people have criminal records. In fact one women admitted to being a felon. Feel free to contact me for more detailed information.

Thank you for you time!

This kind of intimidation is unacceptable and illegal (see below). The fact that the intimidation thugs used for this nonsense are not even from California is a clear indication of the kind of morals and mind set that is being used.

The Contra Costa Times has more on the story (Registration required - Mozilla Firefox users can use the excellent BugMeNot.) name in article changed to "Erika"):

Petitioners claim foes play dirty

Dueling signature-gatherers squaring off on the sidewalks of California's shopping centers create a potentially explosive mix that has already ignited in Pleasant Hill.

Members of California for Democracy, the state arm of Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean's grass-roots political network, accuse petition workers for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's reforms of using intimidation tactics as both sides appealed to Target shoppers Tuesday night.

Two Democratic activists said their opponents made inappropriate comments and followed them to their cars, where they took pictures of or wrote down their license plate numbers.

The battle is over the governor's reform package, which would replace public pensions with private accounts, enact budget reforms, pay teachers based on performance and change how the state draws its political boundaries. [...]

A spokesman for Citizens to Save California, which hired the petition workers, said late Wednesday that he had no details of the Target incident and would investigate the allegations.

"What I do know is that union bosses have told their rank-and-file members to harass our signature-gatherers and disrupt the process," Reed Dickens said. [...]

The dust-up began when Erika arrived Tuesday afternoon at Target, wearing a sign that read, "I'm a teacher against Arnold's special election. Ask me why." [...]

A man already stationed at the store, where he was gathering signatures for the governor's petitions, accused her of interfering with his job and "told me 'I'm going to call and get 30 of my guys here. You won't last,' " Erika said.

"Slowly, people started to gather," Erika said. "They surrounded me. Some tried to pretend they were regular citizens and tried to goad me into a confrontation. They were doing everything they could to intimidate me to leave."

Erika called the police and her political activist colleagues, telling them that she feared for her safety.

The police separated the warring factions, but members of both sides remained and continued their efforts to collect signatures.

During the next few hours, Erika and Klein said, the signature-gatherers for the governor repeatedly positioned themselves close to their opponents, then yelled out in a theatrical manner, "Stop shoving me!"

One man pounded his fist on one petition and said, "This job, petitioning, can be very dangerous," Klein recounted.

More

Arnold, who ran on the promise of improving California is now seeing his worst nightmare come true. His promises to work for the people can only be seen as a smoke screen with this kind of intimidation tactics being used against the very people he would claim to be protecting.

I urge people to attack this with full force (non-violently). This is important.


UPDATES:

1. The conduct Erica describes constitutes a violation of Penal Code Sec. 422 -- "terrorist threats" . The statute punishes threats of bodily harm which are so unequivocal and immediate as to cause the person threatened to be in sustained fear for her safety. Not only is it a felony, but it is a "strike." Thanks to Arnold's lobbying, a ballot initative that would have made the 3-Strikes law more reasonable, was defeated. Erica should follow up with the police and urge them to investigate this crime and present it to the District Attorney for prosecution as a PC 422 violation. Also, they could be sued under R.I.C.O.

2. THINK BEFORE YOU SIGN THAT PETITION

* If you sign the petitions, Governor Schwarzenegger will call for a special election in November. This unnecessary election will cost California taxpayers million (which has to come from somewhere), while the state wastes away under a billion debt. Wouldn't that million be better spent funding our schools or fixing our roads?

* Petition gatherers are paid .00 for each signature, including yours.

* Schwarzenegger is raising million this year, mainly from Wall Street and out-of-state interests, to pay the thug-petitioners, run TV ads and buy your vote.

* His aim is to privatize California Pension Funds and give away our public servants' hard-earned retirement funds to the same Wall Street barons that made billions off of Enron.

* California Pension Funds benefit our police, firefighters, teachers, nurses, trash collectors and other public employees, many of whom aren't covered by Social Security so there is no safety net if the privatized pensions lose money.

* Families of police and firefighters who die in the line of duty would have survivor benefits all but eliminated.

* For more than 150 years redistricting has taken place every 10 years. After the 2000 census Republicans and Democrats agreed on a redistricting plan for the next 10 years. But Schwarzenegger wants to redistrict now instead of waiting until the next census, changing the rules (that his party agreed to!) in the middle of the game.

* Schwarzenegger got elected promising to take the dirty money out of politics - but he's received more corporate and special interest PAC money than anyone in California history.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

Steps you can take, from the easiest to most involved, depending on your ability and motivation:

* EDUCATE your friends and neighbors about the damage Arnold's policies cause to working Californians, for the benefit of Wall Street barons.

* WRITE a letter to your State Representative asking them to not back down. Go to http://www.assembly.ca.gov/ and click on "Find my District" to locate addresses for your State Representatives.

* INFORM your fellow citizens of the facts so paid petition gatherers cannot get enough signatures to have this election and waste million dollars of hard-earned taxpayer money. Whenever you see a petition gatherer, stand next to them and inform people stopping by of the cost and dangers. Be polite, but firm. Have copies of this flyer available to distribute. Download a copy from
www.valleyfordemocracy.com

* PROTEST Arnold wherever he goes. These protests have begun to get media attention and help focus the issue on Arnold's weaknesses, broken promises and the right-wing agenda behind his so-called "moderate" stance. Look for protest information at these websites:

http://www.arnoldwatch.org (click on "Get Involved")
http://www.speakoutca.org (click on "Join Now")
http://www.calnurses.org (click on "Patient Advocacy Action Center" under "Get Involved")
http://www.cta.org/PoliticsandLegislation/PAL.htm .
.
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