Posts Tagged ‘Protest’

Rally for Single-Payer Universal Heath Care on Sunday

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

There will be a “Peaceful Street Rally” on Sunday, July 5, from noon to 3 pm at the corner of South Winchester Boulevard and Stevens Creek Boulevard in support of Single-Payer Universal Heath Care.

The rally is being put together by a number of organizations: Raging Grannies Alliance, One Voice!, South Bay Mobilization, San Jose Peace and Justice Center, Peninsula Peace and Justice Center, Californians for Justice, and Santa Clara County Single Payer Healthcare Coalition.

According to WikiPedia, “Single-payer health care is a term used to describe the payment of doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers from a single fund. It is often mentioned as one way to deliver universal health care.”

Iraq War protestor has been at Stevens Creek and Winchester for over 6 years

Sunday, June 7th, 2009

David Ledesma has been at the corner of Stevens Creek Boulevard and Winchester Boulevard protesting the US wars in the Middle East since the Iraq invasion 6 years and 3 months ago.

David Ledesma with his peace flag and sign.

David Ledesma with his peace flag and sign.

Every Saturday and Sunday at 11:30 am Ledesma sets up his signs at the busy intersection and holds his peace flags until 2 pm. He began protesting with South Bay Mobilization in March 2003 in the weeks leading up to the invasion of Iraq. A few weeks later the organization he was with stopped protesting, but Ledesma continued on. Even though he’s now acting on his own, often supporters of his cause will join him, holding up signs and waving flags.

Ledesma is in opposition to all the US military actions going on in the Middle East. “The United States has been, through foreign policy, meddling in other people’s affairs for decades, both Democratic and Republican administrations, and people are tired of it. People around the world are sick of it and that’s what gives rise to extremism.”

ledesmasignsLedesma does not hold much hope that the change in administration from Bush to Obama will end the conflicts. “During the campaign, Obama said he was not going to bring troops home from Iraq for 16 months, and to me that’s not acceptable. And today, he’s now said it’s going to be until 2011 before he makes his decision. Even then there’s no guarantee that are troops are going to be coming home. As far as Afghanistan is concerned, he said during the campaign before the election, that he was going to increase US troop presence by 20,000. After he got elected, he increased it to 30,000.”

Under no illusion that he’s going to stop the wars, Ledesma just wants the public to know that there’s an opposition. “I did it because I want the American public to see resistance, I want them to see that there’s opposition. I want them to see the message because they’re not seeing this message on the news, they’re not seeing this kind of message on TV. So at least in my own small way, I’m getting a message out to the thousands and thousands of people that pass by this intersection, but I’m under no illusion that I’m going to stop the war. I’m not. I know that. But I’m just going to do what I can do.” As he speaks, car horns blow frequently showing solidarity with his message.

Foreign wars is a particularly close topic for Ledesma who, at age 13, lost his older brother Joseph to the Vietnam war. “I’m researching for a book that I’m writing on his life and I’ve contacted 8 men who served with him in Vietnam, including the medic who was with him when he died, and in my research I found my borther didn’t even die the way the government said he died. They lied to us about how he died. It’s not uncommon that the militay lies to the families because they don’t want the families to know the truth. They want to glorify the death. ”

Ledesma doesn’t limit his message to those driving through the busy intersection. He regularly visits high schools teaching students about alternatives to military service. “They’re really marketing the military to young people. The work that I do now for the last four years, every week I’ve been on the high school campuses of Wilcox High School and Santa Clara High School setting up a table during lunch time talking to the students about their options to military service, specifically not to join the military – to go to college or go to vocational training, do something else after high school.”

There’s a great interview with Ledesma here taken at the 5 year anniversary of his protest.

Psycho Donuts Opens, Attracts National Attention

Sunday, May 17th, 2009

Psycho Donuts has opened at 2006 South Winchester Boulevard at the corner of South Winchester Boulevard and Campbell Avenue, just outside downtown Campbell.

Psycho Donuts in Campbell

Psycho Donuts in Campbell

The donut shop’s theme is crazy donuts. They have donuts with names ranging from Green Tea Donut and FungShui to Split Personality and Bipolar to Major Head Trauma and Cereal Killer. The walls are adorned with artwork by local artists available for sale showing donuts being crazy. Customers are offered bubble wrap when they come in, and they can have their photos taken in a padded cell. Staff wear lab coats and nurse’s uniforms.

Co-owner Jordan Zweigoron in a lab coat with an employee in a nurse's uniform

Co-owner Jordan Zweigoron in a lab coat with an employee in a nurse's uniform

Co-owner Jordan Sweigoron tells South Winchester News that business has been great since the opening on February 28. Some mornings there is a line of customers around the building when the shop opens.

While the owners had intended the theme to be light hearted and fun, it has struck a wrong nerve for some people for whom mental illness hits close to home. Mental Health advocates have been protesting outside the donut shop, and giving out “Stigma-Free Donuts”.

John Forward, whose son suffers from mental illness, says ” I wanted to go in the first time I was over here, but I couldn’t get past the sign on the window that had the picture of the big needle, somebody getting injected, and the nurses and the straightjacket. I remember when my son was in 5 point restraints in the hospital and they were shooting him with up with a drug to calm him down. It was a horrible nightmare, and to see that demonstrated as their calling card, it made me sick. I couldn’t even go inside.”

Protestor John Forward with a sign

Protestor John Forward with a sign

Hope Holland with the Santa Clara Department of Mental Health, who suffers with bipolar disorder, works to raise awareness and fight stigma discrimination. Holland tells the South Winchester News, “The challenges that society presents are harder to manage than anything that the mental illness itself presents. I’ve caused a lot of pain to myself and to others around me by having untreated mental illness and by not acknowledging the problem. Part of the reason why I didn’t acknowledge the problem for so long and go get help was because of the stigma connected to it. ”

The protests by Mental Health advocates has given the small donut shop significant exposure. Local television news, news outlets from Florida to Minnesota, and hundreds of Internet blog posts have been writing about Psycho Donuts. Sweigoron admits that the exposure has helped bring in more traffic to the shop, but wishes the exposure was for positive reasons.

Sweigoron says he wanted to open a donut shop that was unique, and points out that it’s the donuts that are crazy and not the people. “It’s Psycho Donuts, not Psycho People”.

One customer who had suffered from severe depression with suicidal thoughts had a different take on it. “I do understand why some are bothered by the “Psycho” theme but I can’t help but wonder if introducing mainstream America to mental disorders in this way creates an opportunity to remove the negative stigma related to mental illness, not reinforce it. I think the donut names create a positive opportunity for dialogue. That said I do think the straight jacket and padded cell go over the line. They should expand the “group therapy” area and provide more seating instead.”