Clearwater council right to leave Scientology protests alone - 2008-05-15
The protests in Clearwater have been peaceful, without a single arrest, but they do look a bit bizarre. The protesters wear masks or bandannas to cover their faces because they believe the Church of Scientology will target them if they are recognizable. It is not an idle fear, since in the past the church has been accused of using private investigators to follow critics or contacting their employers.
Downtown Clearwater merchants who signed the petition told the St. Petersburg Times that the protests are keeping away customers and the masked protesters look scary to children. The Church of Scientology also has objected to the tenor of the protests, accusing Anonymous of using hate speech -- signs carried by protesters often refer to Scientology as a cult or a scam -- and claiming that Anonymous members have phoned in death threats to the church and attacked the church's computer systems.
However, Clearwater police have closely monitored the Anonymous protests, and they have seen no reason to arrest or cite the protesters.