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Westside Watch

Jerry Rubin, Protesters Wage Sit-In

August 07, 1994

Most days, Jerry Rubin stands up for peace. On Thursday, he sat down for a table.

Rubin, a longtime peace activist who operates an informational and vending booth on the Venice Beach boardwalk, is upset about a new pilot program that, among other things, seeks to regulate the size of the tables political and charity groups set up on the western side of the walkway.

So on Thursday, he led a sit-in at the Westchester offices of Los Angeles City Councilwoman Ruth Galanter. During an impromptu press conference, where Rubin claimed the program violated vendors' free speech rights, he and two other boardwalk denizens--Jingles (a vegetarian activist) and Jack Herer (of H.E.M.P., a group pushing for the legalization of marijuana)--were quickly outnumbered by members of the media.

"These ordinances . . . are unrealistic, unnecessary, unconstitutional, unenforceable and un-Venice," Rubin declared.

Galanter aide Niki Tenant met briefly with the protesters and said the councilwoman would schedule a talk with them in a week or so. This did not satisfy Rubin, who vowed to wage the sit-in even after the office closed at 5 p.m.

"We didn't want to pack this place with people," Rubin said. "We've got important things to do. I could be out stamping people with my rubber peace symbol."

*

STICKER SHOCK: Gary Johns was outside of his West Hollywood home last Wednesday morning, trying to sell his father's burgundy Chevrolet Camaro to Frank Amador. The pair had just returned from a test drive and were sitting in the car, discussing its merits.

But they looked pretty suspicious to one of Johns' neighbors, who promptly called the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department to report that someone was trying to steal the car.

Deputies arrived in a rush, and proceeded to administer what the department calls its "felony approach." Guns were drawn and Johns and Amador were ordered out of the Camaro and were placed in handcuffs.

At that point, deputies listened to Johns' explanation--that he was only trying to sell his dad's car. Johns, head of his street's Neighborhood Watch program, said he was glad that a neighbor called if she thought a crime was being committed. But, he said, the deputies should have realized that he and Amador were harmless.

"I don't know how it could be construed the car was being stolen when we were just sitting there," said Johns, who has since filed a complaint now being reviewed by the Sheriff's Department.

Said Lt. Lee Jordan: "We responded to an alleged felony in progress."

Amador said he had been looking at Johns' car to replace his own car, which had recently been stolen. In the end, though, he decided to look elsewhere for wheels.

Said Amador: "If that car is going to attract that kind of attention, I don't want it."

*

COUNTING THE VOTES: City Councilman Kelly Olsen, who is seeking the all-important endorsement of the city's dominant renter's rights group today, will have to do so without help from former Mayor Dennis Zane.

Zane said he is passing over Olsen in favor of three other candidates he prefers: Councilman Tony Vazquez, Planning Commissioner Pam O'Connor and Arts Commission member Bruria Finkel.

This does not bode well for Olsen. Zane is an influential leader of Santa Monicans for Renters' Rights, and his judgment is respected by the organization's members.

On the other hand, the group has never denied an endorsement to a council incumbent who is one of its members. And since these things are decided based on who can get the most loyalists to show up at the convention, anything can--and usually does--happen.

Zane said Olsen is fourth on his list and a "fine candidate" whom he will support later if the group picks him.

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