Prop 8 Opponents Target Business Of Area Resident Who Made Contribution Supporting Prop 8
(Nov. 23, 2008) -- About fifteen sign-carrying demonstrators were visible on Carson St. east of Paramount Blvd. in Lakewood on Saturday (Nov. 22) denouncing CA's voter-enacted Proposition 8 and urging customers not to patronize a business operated (through a corporate entity) by a local businessman who contributed $6,000 of his personal funds to support the ballot measure.
Prop 8 (which carried 52.1% to 47.9% in the Secretary of State's latest tally) reversed the CA Supreme Court's 4-3 ruling that made same-sex marriage a CA constitutional right. Legal challenges to the ballot measure are now pending in the same Court.
Among the signs visible: "No on H8"; "Franchise Owner Against Civil Rights!" and "Bigot." Also these:
Inside the restaurant, Ken Baker of LB was among those waiting in line to order. He told us, "I don't like chicken, but I saw the [anti-Prop 8] signs...[The demonstrators' signs] were like a big billboard telling me where I should have lunch today."
The demonstration was organized by Shawn O'Donnell, a LB software engineer who says he used readily available software to create an "8 Accountability Project" website (8accountability.org) described in its front page banner as "an open, community-edited space for coordinating grass-roots action on 8." The site combines political activism and a blog in a social networking format focused on Prop 8.
Screen save: 8accountability.org
Mr. O'Donnell told LBReport.com:
I felt very strongly when Prop 8 passed that if this could happen, [seeing] how far they were willing to go to take the constitution it really made me worried and I felt that I had to do something about it. And so I went through the list of people that had organized and supported Proposition 8 and I wanted to have them be accountable for what they were doing and to raise awareness of how the LGBT community was spending their money...I've eaten here, and I didn't want my own civil rights destroyed by my own money...[E]qual protection under the law is one of the greatest principles of our country. It's an important counterweight to the tyranny of the majority and we're hoping a lot of people will feel the same way...
Q: What do you want [consumers] to do after seeing your signs?
A: Eat someplace else...
Q: A campaign contribution is a contributor exercising their first amendment rights.
Mr. O'Donnell: It is.
Q: Why should you try to punish them economically for exercising their rights of free speech?
Q: ...I felt it was a travesty that I may have supported someone who used that money to take away our civil rights, so to me that was one of the most important things that we get the word out to other people so that they don't feel the sickness in their stomach that I felt when I found out that I might have contributed to the destruction of my own civil rights...This isn't just a proposition about a bullet-train to northern California. They're talking about my life. And this is a civil rights issue, it's so much more than just about an initiative, and I just think the constitutional issues are so important that it's worth coming to the streets and doing something about it...
LB resident Joe Mello was among the demonstrators:
This is my fourth protest. I was shocked at the passage of Proposition 8 and like everyone I've met at all of these rallies, we want to make sure our voices are heard and that the tyranny of the majority isn't carried in California...Boycotts have been something that our nation was founded on. The Tea boycott, the boycott of the Stamp Act by the patriots. Boycotting is basically an American right that goes back before the Republic and it's just a right that we're using here from the boycotts of the Suffragettes, and the boycotts of the '60s, and this is just the boycott of our time and we're not going to contribute our money to corporations, people and companies that use it to work against us.
We heard multiple horn-honks. We saw thumbs-up, no middle fingers.
At about 11:30 a.m., we saw customers inside the franchised (not company owned) El Pollo Loco location waiting in line to order. Seats were about half filled. Some cars were lined up in the drive-through lane.
El Pollo Loco, which doesn't operate the location, didn't contribute to either side in the Prop 8 campaign. An onsite restaurant manager handed us a written statement from an El Polo Loco, Inc. spokesperson which stated:
No donations in support of California's Proposition 8 have been made by El Pollo Loco or on behalf of our franchise organizations. American citizens, however, are entitled to support or oppose issues that are important to them, including individuals in our company and every other organization in America.
Mr. O'Donnell said his website acknowledges that El Pollo Loco itself didn't contribute to either side in Prop 8.
The El Pollo Loco location on Carson St. near Paramount Blvd. in Lakewood is operated by a franchisee, WKS Restaurant Corporation, officed in a nearby building. Public records indicate that on August 21, WKS President Roland Spongberg contributed $6,000 (personal, not corporate contribution) to the Yes on 8 campaign.
So why target Mr. Spongberg?
"I can't change the world but I live in Long Beach," Mr. O'Donnell said. "I went through the Long Beach list [of Prop 8 contributors]. Mr. Spongberg was reportedly one of the largest donators in all of Long Beach. We sorted by amount, he comes to the top of the list...He runs WKS Restaurants...[it's] one of the largest franchisees of El Pollo Loco and that's how we came to be here today."
Reached later in the day for reaction to what's taking place, Mr. Spongberg told LBReport.com:
I supported Prop 8 by looking at the issue. I don't have any hate. It's just my opinion of marriage. I believe it ought to be between a man and a woman.
I am surprised by the personal attacks, surprised that some, it seems, want to affect your livelihood, your ability to make a living.
I've never seen anything like this before. In an election, when you vote, there are obviously two sides to every proposition. You may agree or disagree, but it shouldn't be wrong to say what you believe. If you try to take someone's livelihood away, that doesn't seem right.
Q: What are you going to do?
A: I wish this wouldn't have happened, but it has, so we go forward.
As of Nov. 23, 8accountability.org lists an anti-Prop 8 event planned for November 29 at 7 p.m. at the LB Performing Arts Center (organized via Facebook, a separate social networking site) with no further details online for now.
8accountability.org creator O'Donnell said he's operating independently (not tied to other groups) and this "couldn't have been done without the internet."
We started by using a free, out of the box, social networking software which gave us all the benefits of a social network...And then to get momentum, we leveraged the jointheimpact website...A small little organization can get a huge amount of momentum by feeding off the mainstream website and just with a link to what we're doing, it grew our membership 400% and suddenly everybody knew about what we were doing...
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