After reading the letter to the editor in last week’s paper concerning the protestors (“Movie protestors explain opposition,” Sept. 25-26 Savanna Times-Journal/Carroll County Mirror-Democrat), I was compelled to comment on the omissions and falsehoods.
The first paragraph is not true. They never contacted the theater directly by email or phone about canceling the movie. Even if they had, the movie would have still been shown.
There was one male, a 4-year-old girl holding a sign, a 16-year-old girl passing out condoms, one Savanna City Council member (she was appointed three days later), a retired Chicago lawyer, and a couple more women. They had to be struggling for number or they might not have brought the 4-year-old.
The first thing out from the 16-year-old girl was, “Would you like a condom?” as she extended a basket half-full of condoms to me. I walked into the theater and a patron told me that his 89-year-old mother was offered a condom by the same 16-year-old girl. She targeted a couple of older gentlemen in their 80’s, asking them if they wanted condoms. She offered a condom to everyone except a young couple with a 6-month-old baby. She averted her eyes to the ground as they entered the theater.
After hearing this, I went back outside and told the protestors to move away from the doors and from under the marquee and to quit badgering the patrons. If they wanted to protest, they can do it in the rain.
I was told that I didn’t own the sidewalk and to call the police if I didn’t like it. I told them that if they really wanted the police here, I would gladly oblige them. When the officer did not show up right away, one of them had the gall to ask, “Where’s the police, I thought you called him?
Unbeknownst to us, the officer was observing the situation from a distance. He saw them putting signs up to people’s faces as well as my own. He came over and asked them if they had a permit, to which they replied, no.
Here is where it gets comical and pathetic all at once. The officer explained that if you’re on public property, you need a permit to protest. They yelled that he (the theater owner) doesn’t own the sidewalk. The officer explains that the sidewalk is public property, you can’t protest here, you need a permit.
This next part is my favorite. The retired lawyer steps into the street and gave us that look like “how’s this?” And was told that the street is also public property. Then someone else pipes up, “What about the sidewalk across the street?” That is still public property.
He then told them that he would arrest them all, including, the 4-year-old, if they did not promptly comply. They finally ended up on private property across the street and the well-organized and professional group was gone.
In their letter last week, they stated they were within Illinois state law to protest since they didn’t have the required time to get the necessary permit. Please show me that law or where I can find it. And why didn’t any of you bring this to the attention of the police officer at the time?
Maybe if you would have gone to church or checked out the bulletin board at the theater where the Knights of Columbus matinees are advertised at least three weeks in advance, you would have had enough time to get your permit.
I should end this letter and keep it professional, but I have never been known for my professionalism. Who brings a 4-year-old to a protest, especially of this nature? What mother knowingly lets her 16-year-old daughter offer condoms to anyone, let alone an 89-year-old woman, other senior citizens well over their childbearing years, and another good-looking fat man who also owns the theater?
If you want her to hand out condoms, have her pass them out at school where they will be more likely used. If you prefer her to pass them out to the senior citizens or anyone else you think needs one, hand them out at a hair salon. And by the way, who organized this protest? I’ve chased hogs that have been better organized. Was it the retired lawyer or the newly appointed council member? I personally think it was the 4-year-old. This act is right up there with the time you hung a sign on another business door on our block when the owner was on vacation.
In closing, I find it embarrassing for Savanna that a Savanna business owner and newly appointed council member would treat the greatest generation, other movie-goers and another Savanna business with such disrespect by offering condoms and shoving signs in their faces.
And remember, “It’s not what you’re watching, it’s who you’re with” — well for most of us. Good day!