The story begins in October, 2008, when a protester confronted a Gold Base
security guard who had been prowling around his vehicle, at one point setting off a road flare near the back of the vehicle. This was during a Stage 5 fire alert, when no incendiaries or trash fires are permitted.
The guard was parked on a dirt road near the highway. He would drive up and park behind the protesters' vehicle, get out and prowl around. If someone began to walk the quarter mile back towards the car, he would get back in his vehicle and back away behind a stand of eucalyptus trees. He was observed and filmed doing this several times.
Francois Choquette approached the guard's vehicle with camera running. His footage shows another car with three guards pulling up, piling out, throwing him to the ground. He was subsequently assaulted as the keystone kop wanna-bes tried to cuff him with flexicuffs. When other protesters arrived on scene, he was being held in a headlock with three guards kneeling on his back.
When another protester tried to retrieve Choquette's camera, she was also
assaulted and thrown against the security guard's car. Although he was the victim of the assault, Mr. Choquette was arrested for trespassing, assault, and a felony "assault on a peace officer."
Subsequently, County Supervisor and now Senate hopeful Jeff Stone introduced Ordinance 884, which purported to address demonstrating outside of private residences. Based in part by a scurrilous, unsubstantiated booklet provided to Stone by a mysterious source, Ordinance 884 was voted into the books.
Scientology spokesman Tommy Davis later admitted to reporter Nathan Baca of KESQ Palm Springs that Scientology was the source of the booklet used by Stone to whip up a furor of concern where no cause existed.
Moreover, Ordinance 884 only applies to residential neighborhoods. Gold Base is a vast complex of offices, a film studio, and "berthing" for residents. Therefore, it was still possible to protest along the side of the highway, and several pickets were held involving people from Nevada, Arizona, Washington State and Northern/Southern California.
Recently, the St. Petersburg Times issued a special report focusing on four ex-Scientologists who spent time at Gold Base. Their stories reveal an atmosphere of fear and abuse, much of it perpetrated by Scientology's
current "ecclesiastical leader" or "Chairman of the Board," David Miscavige. Mr. Miscavige is accused of physical and mental abuse of his subordinants, including punching, slapping, slamming people against walls, and sentencing them to deprivation and imprisonment. This culture of abuse is perpetrated and mimicked down the chain of command.
There are pictures of knife-like security blades on the inside of the
fence. When asked, "Why are the spikes facing inward?" Tommy Davis shrugged and said, "That's just how they were installed."
Accused of trespassing on Scientology property, Francois Choquette did a great deal of research to determine that his assault was, in fact, carried out on a public easement next to the road. He also learned that the steel fence surrounding the base was on that easement as well. Scientology had been trying to get the county to give them special dispensation to leave their fence on public property. One night, base residents worked to remove it back onto their own property.
People are not free to leave; escapees are often chased down the highway that bisects the 800 acre fenced compound.
Having failed to halt the protests, Scientology rocket scientists have developed a new scheme; close the highway.
In a recent article in the Valley Times, Scientology spokeswoman Cathy Fraser cites safety issues as the reason why Gilman Springs Road should be closed.
"Golden Era Productions spokeswoman Cathy Fraser said last week that the issue is safety. There has been a number of accidents along that portion of Gilman Springs Road, she said."
Cathy Fraser reveal that the last fatality was in May, 2004.
Ironically, an earlier fatality that occurred in 2001, when a young woman
ran into an unlighted skiploader and was decapitated on her way home from
a bible study class. Her sister, a passenger, was unhurt.
The skiploader driver, Thomas Nove, was working for the Scientology
organization at the time, and was pressured to finish the job that night.
Cathy Fraser expressed concern over the safety of Gold Base inmates,
suggesting that crossing the busy highway is hazardous.
She also expressed concern for the safety of protesters along that
This is absurd on so many levels. For one thing, Scientology installed
tunnels under the highway so its inmates will remain on base and off the
Fraser's "concern" for the well-being of protesters is spurious at best.
Consider this; during protests in 2008-2009, the Scientologists have done
Blasted a tritone out of massive speakers mounted on their perimeter at
110 decibels, directly facing the highway. Absolutely no chance of
distracting motorists with that!
Turned sprinklers on, causing water to run down the highway while soaking
protesters. A wet highway is certainly not a traffic hazard!
Planted landscaping right down to the curb of the highway, blocking the
pedestrian easement and forcing protesters to either trample their pansies
or walk in the roadway.
Installed a traffic island on the public road, narrowing an already narrow
highway and endangering anyone walking in the gutter. (see above.)
Gilman Springs Road is the main thoroughfare for motorists traveling from
Hemet to the I-60 freeway, which leads to Los Angeles and Palm Springs.
That road, and the Scientology base, is clearly visible here:
The road was closed for a week back in the early part of the decade, when
Scientology PR representative Muriel DuFresne convinced the county that
they needed to "film the night sky" from the center of the highway for a
month. Forced onto a narrower, twistier secondary street that also
terminates at the I-60 access, motorists raised a stink, and the month's
closure was ended after a week of traffic jams and complaint. It is still
not known who in the county authorized this closure.
Ms. Fraser claims that this new closure exposure is "premature." Yet Jeff
Stone's representative has stated that Scientology reps have visited his
office several times to broach the subject.
With the stories of abuse, including human trafficking and coerced
abortions of members working for the Sea Organization at Gold, it is clear
that Ms. Fraser and the Scientology organization's concerns are less about
public safety, and more about concealing the ongoing incarceration and
human rights violations still going on behind the razor wire fences.
Without public scrutiny, the slave labor, the beatings, the deprivation
will continue with impunity.
Supervisor Jeff Stone has been made aware of this situation, and has
chosen to turn a blind eye, instead looking forward to a Senate seat.
Mr. Stone has a slave labor camp in his jurisdiction, while portraying
himself as a champion of human rights.
Recently, the San Jacinto City Council voted to oppose the closure of Gilman Springs Road.
"As of this week, no official application had been made to the county."
Samuel Alhadeff, an attorney representing the church, told the council
experts have been hired to analyze issues related to the road and, in a
letter, anticipated a road vacation application could be filed soon."
Alhadeff represents the Scientology organization. He has also served as
Jeff Stone's personal lawyer. No conflict of interest there!
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