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Students Launch Campaign to Oust Eatery From Santa Monica College

October 29, 1989|JOCELYN Y. STEWART | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Students at Santa Monica College have launched a campaign to have a Carl's Jr restaurant removed from campus, maintaining that the founder supports anti-abortion activity and the Ku Klux Klan.

"We would like to do everything we can to get their charter revoked," said Stephen Marshall, president of the Political Club.

The group has accused fast-food magnate Carl Karcher of making contributions to the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue and the Ku Klux Klan. Marshall and 23 representatives from various groups on campus held a protest Thursday in front of the Carl's Jr to voice their concerns and to "make other students aware."

Patricia Parks, a spokeswoman for Carl Karcher Enterprises, denied the accusations.

"I know that he has not given to Operation Rescue. Beyond that, the company believes that it's his own personal business," she said. Parks also denied that Karcher contributes to the Ku Klux Klan.

Shouting "Burgers buy murder!" and "Get them out!" protesters sat in front of the restaurant's counter urging students to buy their lunches elsewhere.

Karcher "is the same kind of bigot that said blacks shouldn't have the right to vote," Marshall said.

With few customers to serve, workers at the restaurant stood by and watched as the crowd of onlookers and supporters grew.

Irving Booker was not one of the protesters but said he agreed with the group.

"I'm outraged that (Karcher) can have an establishment on a college campus, not just my college, but any college. . . . I think more people should know who the supporters of oppression are so there can be more boycotts."

Most students passed by the restaurant opting to buy their lunches at the school cafeteria or other fast-food outlets near campus, as the protesters suggested. But others found the convenience and food too much to give up, even for the sake of politics.

"I think it's nuts," said student Mark Panitz. "They have better food. McDonald's doesn't have onion rings."

Another student engaged in a shouting match with protesters, answering their chants with one of her own.

"Abortion buys murder!" she said while buying her food.

Chuck Gerst, a manager of the restaurant, declined to comment on the demonstration but handed out a statement from Carl Karcher Enterprises denying the accusations.

Norman Curry, dean of enterprises at the school, said the restaurant is in the second year of its contract. School officials had not received a formal complaint about the restaurant and had no plans to revoke its contract, he said.

The students are gathering signatures for a petition against the restaurant and will soon begin drawing up an initiative to be brought before the student government.

Santa Monica College is one of only four colleges in Southern California with a Carl's Jr restaurant on campus.

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