An Open Letter to an Occupy Eureka organizer

2.24.12

Dear Jack Nounnan,
I’m writing you to let you know about a problem I’ve had in front of the Humboldt County Courthouse.
As you may know, I own the McKinleyville Press, which is a non-corporate, locally owned, independent community newspaper. I serve as the newspaper’s publisher, editor, reporter, photographer and paper boy.
For years I’ve had a newspaper rack at the Humboldt County Courthouse, first on the Fourth Street side. Later I moved the rack to the Fifth Street side. I never had a problem with theft or vandalism, until recently.
About a month ago I was delivering newspapers and discovered that the padlock had somehow been broken off my rack and stolen. So I had to go out and spend $10 on a new padlock. That might not sound like a big deal to most people, but these are tough times and little expenses like that can add up.
I figured that the incident was just a fluke and tried to put it behind me. Then, about two weeks ago, I was dismayed to discover that someone had kicked in the plastic window on the front of my newspaper rack.
My first thought was that I should dip into my meager bank account, purchase a new window, then take an hour or two way from my regular newspaper duties to dismantle and remove the old window and replace it with a new window. (It’s not an easy job, being that the racks are several decades old and the bolts are rusty.)
But then I had to wonder: Do we have a pattern here? If my newspaper rack was targeted twice in one month, might it be targeted again? Maybe.
So I had to replace the rack and move it to the Fourth Street side, away from the Occupy protest. I could no longer afford to do business there.
I don’t know who targeted my rack. Was it an Occupy protester, or someone just hanging out with the protesters? I don’t know.
But the incident demonstrates that there is a problem in front of the courthouse. Either misguided protesters are engaged in the vandalism, or the protest is attracting a criminal element, which seemingly cannot be policed by the protesters.
I would have thought that my newspaper, and the rack that dispenses it, would be a welcome addition at the protest. After all, the McKinleyville Press represents the opposite of corporate-dominated, plutocratic media. The Press is locally owned. It’s non-corporate. It’s a micro-media enterprise. It’s even printed letters and columns sympathetic to the Occupy movement.
I also would have thought that with a 24/7 protest taking place in front of the courthouse, my newspaper rack would be safer than ever before. Protesters, after all, are sitting only a few feet away from it. But that’s not the case.
The fact that the Occupy protest site is inhospitable to a local community newspaper makes me really sad.
I’ll be the first to acknowledge that my complaint is trivial compared to some of the major problems we face in today’s world. We’ve got people going hungry. Health care is inadequate. The nation is engaged in endless conflict overseas. The list goes on and on.
But it doesn’t make sense to take it out on small businesses, or to allow a scuzzy element to run wild and make things more difficult for local mom & pop businesses that are just trying to survive.
I hope that organizers can do something to change the situation in front of the courthouse and make it welcome again for the entire community.
Remember, we’re all in this together.

Thank you for your time,

Jack Durham
Editor/Publisher
McKinleyville Press
news@mckinleyvillepress.com
http://www.mckinleyvillepress.com

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35 Comments

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35 responses to “An Open Letter to an Occupy Eureka organizer

  1. tra

    Either misguided protesters are engaged in the vandalism, or the protest is attracting a criminal element

    OR, it has nothing to do with the protesters, which frankly seems like the most likely scenario. I think this Open Letter is a bit unfair to Mr. Nounnan and his fellow protesters.

  2. Anonymous

    Hey, somebody threw some garbage in the back of my pickup a few blocks away from the courthouse recently. McDonald’s bag and (mostly) empty soda cup. So jack, feel free to lump my harrowing experience in with your anti-occupy nonsense. Maybe you’re just shooting for a slice of that anti-occupy reader/subscription/advertisement pie. That’s understandable “in this economy” as they say. Man, somebody really oughta protest what’s being done to “our economy”, that it’s literally become a decades-old cliche to say such a thing!

  3. jackdurham

    There’s pie? I love pie!

  4. tra

    Was it an Occupy protester, or someone just hanging out with the protesters?

    Again, that’s obviously a false dillema: It could just as well have been neither. Often there are just a few protesters there, and they’re not always over near the newspaper boxes.

    I am sorry to hear about the vandalism, and I certainly understand your anger and frustration. I just think it may be a bit misdirected, given that there is no evidence that the damage was done by anyone connected to the Occupy protests, or that any protester saw it happen.

    Certainly whoever did it was a jerk, and probably a moron.

  5. Sigh

    Wow, cognitive disconnect for these protestors. Jack, you were completely reasonable in your assessment. If there is unusual, loud, damaging vandalism taking place under the noses of protestors, it’s right to question what they’re doing, or not doing. You were too polite in my opinion. It’s increasingly difficult to respect this bunch.

  6. tra

    Please. It’s not the protesters’ responsibility to maintain surveillance on the newspaper boxes and maintain their security.

    If and when there is any actual evidence that one of the protesters committed this act of vandalism (which I very much doubt) or saw it committed and didn’t report it, I will be the first to condemn them. Since there isn’t, I won’t.

  7. Sigh

    Protestors are standing on the site 24/7, and for some reason they don’t see or hear someone kicking in a window or breaking a padlock? If so, I don’t feel safe in their presence if they’ll turn a blind eye, or a deaf ear, to random violence.

    If I were Jack, I’d stop giving the occupiers a voice. Eureka is well outside the purview of McKinleyville, and we have the Internet for national news.

    Drop ‘em Jack. Drop ‘em. If they can’t be bothered to police their own, or report crimes taking place under their noses. Just drop ‘em. Stick to McKinleyville news.

  8. tra

    We’re talking about downtown Eureka, along Hwy 1o1. It can be a loud place, with a lot of loud noises, including sirens, truck engines, car horns, vehicles with loud sound systems, car doors being slammed, and so on and so forth.

    Meanwhile, the protesters may have been 30 or 40 feet away at the time, and not looking in the direction of the newspaper boxes.

    And would kicking in a (plastic) window on a newspaper box necessarily make all that much noise? I don’t know, I’ve never tried it. Would it definitely have been noticeable to someone 30 or 40 feet away, even if there wasn’t much background noise? Not necessarily.

    You’re making a whole lot of assumptions, without any real justification. But, that’s your prerogative. Just don’t be surprised when people point out your conclusions aren’t meaningful, except perhaps as an indication of your pre-existing bias.

  9. 713

    TRA,
    Come on, get back to being “reasonable”. You and everybody knows if it was a group of normal people outside there and somebody was kicking the shit out of a newspaper machine, somebody would say something.

  10. tra

    Sure, IF they saw or heard it happen. There’s no evidence anyone did.

    And “normal people?” Oops, your prejudice is showing.

    • jackdurham

      My prejudice? Do you realize that I’m sympathetic to the economic justice platform espoused by the overall movement? I was pretty excited by the movement when it first started. But… (reread my letter.)

      • tra

        Jack,

        My 8:34 comment “Oops, your prejudice is showing” was a response to the comment by “7:13″ (posted at 7:51) It seems like that should have been pretty clear from the context, and the fact that I quoted 7:13′s use of the phrase “normal people.”

        I did direct some comments to you at 5:27 and 5:44, and would be glad to consider your response, if you’re so inclined.

      • jackdurham

        Tra, bear with me. I’m using an iPhone app and a tiny keyboard. It’s messier than using my desktop. Things are a little jumbled.

  11. OR, it has nothing to do with the protesters
    You’re kidding, right? Do you really so thoroughly misunderstand what #Occupy is? It’s shitting on other people. It’s reneging on their promises. It’s the opposite of ‘as good as your word.” It’s stealing from other people.

    It’s the epitome of absolute degradation of the human species. At least the poor pathetic dregs of humanity who are getting attention they so crave, while serving as cover, pawns in a game they don’t even understand.

    And what have they accomplished? Cyclone fences that ruin it for everyone else. Trash. A whole slew of new “NO” signs adorn the fence. And, now, they vandalize Jack’s newspaper racks. It means nothing to them. TRA

    • jackdurham

      If people actually read my letter, they’d see that I clearly state that I don’t know who the vandals are. What we do know is that some scuzzy folks – whoever they are – are now hanging out regularly in the area. There are now problems that we didn’t have before the protest began. There’s the vandalism. I’ve seen people verbally harassed. It’s not unusual to see puddles of urine. People are smoking weed. There’s a problem at the courthouse. Why be in denial?

      • tra

        Jack,

        Suggesting that the protesters shouldn’t be held responsible for vandalism that they have not been shown to have any involvement in is not a case of “being in denial,” it’s a matter of basic fairness. I don’t think that should be too much to ask from a newspaper editor.

  12. tra

    Rose don’t need no stinkin’ evidence, she knows those people are bad, which means if something bad happens anywhere near them that proves they did it, which, in turn, proves that they’re bad. Congratulations on achieving such perfect circularity, akin to a snake swallowing it’s tail. Or perhaps the other way around.

  13. Sigh

    TRA has no need of facts. He can vilify based purely on his ideology.

    • tra

      Quite the opposite, ‘Sigh.” I am the one stating the facts — and the fact is that at this point there is no evidence whatsoever that the vandalism actually had anything to do with the protesters. Meanwhile, you and 7:13 and Rose are carrying on with your laughably fact-free attempts at vilification.

  14. No evidence. Nope. No deductive reasoning allowed either. Not if it applies to #Occupy – which is essentially a term that means steal other people’s property, shit (literally and figuratively) on other people’s property, and on their rights, and whine about your fate in life, while you wallow in the glory that is #Occupy. Getting so much attention.

    Just wait. Spring will be really great – as the violence factor gets amped up.

  15. tra

    Deductive reasoning is fine, Rose, but it’s no substitute for evidence. You have accused the Occupy protesters of vandalizing Jack’s newspaper box, though you have presented no evidence whatsoever to back up this accusation. That’s a fact.

    • jackdurham

      Let’s use our real names, like in real life. My name is Jack Durham. I I deliver newspapers to the courthouse every Tuesday morning. I have an email address, phone number, website, blog, Facebook page and an office at 1660 Central Ave. Suite F in McK. How about you? Why should community members hide from fellow community members? Let’s emerge from the shadows, shake hands, break bread and talk.

      • tra

        Nice try, Jack, but my identity is irrelevant to the question of whether the facts and reasoning I’m offering are valid or not. It appears as if you are trying to change the subject, which suggests you’d rather argue about online anonymity as opposed to discussing the issue at hand. That’s fine, but I’m not going to play along.

        It’s your blog, and if you don’t want anonymous comments, you’re free to disallow them. But if you choose to allow anonymous comments, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to complain about them at the same time. Meanwhile, there’s still no evidence that any of the Occupy protesters had anything to do with the vandalism of your newspaper boxes.

    • Realist

      Hey Tra, there is plenty of evidence! It is called circumstantial evidence. It is evidence that allows you to look at motives, passed acts, character, etc. Another term would be deductive reasoning, I skill that seems to elude you. Now there is no DIRECT evidence, that protestors vandalized or watched the vandalism of the newspaper box, but common sense, and circumstantial evidence certainly tell me, and others with brain, that it is more likely than not.

  16. Your identity is totally relevant. Not only deductive reasoning, but one can imagine the conversation as they trashed his racks. It’s theirs, by God, they can take it. That’s the #Occupy way, there’s plenty of money, they have it, we want it, so we will take it. My preshussssss… And any honest person can see it and admit it, TRA.

    The really funny part is the support #Occupy gets from college professors – since #Occupy wants to make damn sure college professors all lose their jobs – gonna renege on the student loans…. not pay the money they owe for the education they received. Cheer them on.

    ‘Couse, not the ones at OUR Courthouse – that piper’s tune is played for the pawn in Berkeley and Oakland, where they actually GOT an education. We’ve got the ones who just want something for nothing. Like Jack’s paper.

  17. tra

    “Your identity is totally relevant.”

    Perhaps you could explain why. But I doubt it, which I suspect is why you didn’t even try.

    “…one can imagine the conversation…” ?

    Yes, one can “imagine” anything one wants to. Again, not a substitute for evidence.

  18. 713

    TRA,
    Normal people are going to work and not pissing, shitting, and making a mess at the courthouse. Normal people are not getting in other people’s faces because they happen to have business at the courthouse that day. The people I saw when I was at the courthouse last week are a bunch of bums, tearing the place up. There was one lady who was holding a sign who was polite, the rest looked like a bunch of vagrants you would normally see on the plaza. I don’t know what message they are trying to send, but it certainly isn’t about banks and corporations.

  19. jackdurham

    Keep in mind that in my letter I never claim that a protester vandalized the rack and that I have evidence. Here’s what I wrote:

    “I don’t know who targeted my rack. Was it an Occupy protester, or someone just hanging out with the protesters? I don’t know.”

    What we do know is that there are all sorts of problems taking place at the courthouse – problems that did NOT exist before the protest.

    Other businesses in the area have also been targeted. It’s a sad situation. As a community we can do better than that. I would think that reasonable Occupy folks would agree with me on this. But maybe not.

  20. kim

    Or quite possibly it was the same person who shit outside the local business?

  21. tra

    ““I don’t know who targeted my rack. Was it an Occupy protester, or someone just hanging out with the protesters? I don’t know.”

    And as I noted in my second comment on this thread, at 5:44 yesterday, there is a third possibility: Someone who was neither an Occupy protester, nor “hanging out” with the protesters.

  22. Jenny S.

    TRA, you’re a moron!

  23. Jenny S.

    Jack, this is an excellent post and completely reasonable. I agree that there are many problems in Government today and I am empathetic to the Occupy movement, but the crime, vandalism, and violence associated with the occupy protesters is getting out of hand. You’re doing a great job, Jack. Thank you and please don’t give up.

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