A Visible Voice for Peace in Fresno
By Mike Rhodes
July 2, 2004
Lifestyle Furniture is located where the action is in Fresno. They are on the Southeast corner of Shaw and Blackstone, better known in the community as the peace corner. On the first Friday of every month Peace Fresno supporters gather on the peace corner with their signs, flags, and music. They are a visible voice for peace from 4:30 PM until whenever they decide to disband. During their presence on the corner you can hear a lot of drivers honking their approval, there are many smiles, and support to end the war in Iraq. Shaw and Blackstone is one of the busiest intersections in town and was chosen because the site allows Peace Fresno to get its message out to thousands of people in a single afternoon.
But there has been a price to pay for having a public presence and advocating for peace on the corner of Shaw and Blackstone. Lifestyle Furniture told Peace Fresno not to use their parking lot while they held their rally. Then, to emphasis the point, they brought in a tow truck to haul away peace activists cars. The tow truck would sit and wait for somebody to pull into the lot and join the peace rally. They would then pull up behind the car and start the process to tow it away. It didn’t matter that the lot was empty, they would tell people that they were going to tow the car if it wasn’t immediately moved.
At today’s rally, the struggle with Lifestyle Furniture escalated a notch when the Fresno Police Department sent an officer to the rally. He was there at the request of the furniture store because the Peace Fresno banner was on their property by one inch. The absurdity of the situation was lost on the officer as he explained that the banner would have to be moved one inch to the Northwest. There are rapes and murders taking place in this town and the FPD has time to harass Peace Fresno because the manager from Lifestyle Furniture thinks a banner needs to be moved one inch?
Peace Fresno has also had to endure the absolute insanity of the Free Republic that regularly sets up on the Southwest corner of Shaw and Blackstone. Jim Robinson (head Freeper) was there today with a handful of his faithful. For a well funded national group that is headquartered in Fresno, they have never been able to mobilize more than a handful of people to support their cause. Perhaps the theme War is Peace does not appeal to a lot of people.
Peace Fresno is also the target of a vicious disinformation campaign right here on this very Indymedia site. Every event they announce is met with a barrage of disinformation. Comments are posted that tell readers that the event has been moved or canceled. Imaginary potlucks are posted in the calendar section, marches are called, photos altered, and death threats made. Who is responsible? The Free Republic? The Joint Terrorism Task Force? Who knows?
The editors of Indymedia remove misinformation, terrorist threats, and other inappropriate postings as soon as it is found. If you see a posting about a Peace Fresno event and you want to check out the validity of the information - go to their web site at www.peacefresno.org . The correct information will be available there.