[Noisebridge-discuss] Advisory about recent thefts at Noisebridge.

Gian Pablo Villamil gian.pablo at gmail.com
Sun Jul 10 15:32:26 UTC 2011

As I've pointed out before, NYC Resistor was also in a sketchy area, and
implemented a far more doors-closed policy. The space was freely open only
on Thursday evenings, aside from that it was members only.

This policy did not seem to get in the way of people doing cool things, and
it made the the people there feel a lot more safe.

I've already had a couple of experiences at NB where... undesirable
visitors... made it impossible for me to get work done.

Perhaps we should have more of a vetting policy?

My concern is that word seems to be spreading - fast - around the
neighborhood about NB being a wide-open place with lots of goodies.

On Sat, Jul 9, 2011 at 11:16 PM, Liz Henry <liz at bookmaniac.org> wrote:

> On 7/9/11 9:31 AM, Quinn Norton wrote:
> > I'm confused. Did they actually do anything wrong besides make you
> uncomfortable?
> >
> Good question and thanks for asking. I'll try to answer thoroughly,
> though it is a bit tl;dr.  It was my personal judgment from fairly brief
> contact, and yet I had a fairly sharp worry about the person's being in
> Noisebridge. It's important to discuss in public how we might form that
> kind of judgment and expose our possibly wrong/biased standards for
> criticism.
> The guy I thought should not be allowed in wasn't the main guy who later
> that night got into the fight though I think he was involved. I was
> worried about leaving the space as he arrived, from my conversation with
> him and the drunk girl who brought him in. He was drunk or high and also
> seemed a bit incoherent, hard to understand, and out of touch with
> reality. He explained that people call him The Angel Gabriel and then
> began talking about the Bible. He refused a tour or explanation of the
> space. He was not particularly clean and was dressed in camo. I had a
> further snap reaction to him that was kind of like "Okay... you're a
> person who has been in prison... more than once." So a sketchy dude who
> on first sight I think has been in jail or prison, crazy, babbling about
> the Bible, drunk, etc.
> None of those things alone would lead me to be uncomfortable enough with
> a person to say "You should not come in and in fact you should leave"
> but all in combination, along with it being late at night when there
> were not many people in the building to keep an eye on the situation,
> and the drunk girl much younger than him who I didn't think had very
> good judgment, concerned me. What I said was not anything reasonable but
> was a huge eyeroll and sarcastic "Oh fuck... GREAT...."  I came back
> with Danny after about an hour to make sure things were calm, and they
> seemed to be. So I did nothing and left. Not my finest moment.
> That afternoon I had just had encounters with several homeless and
> apparently mentally ill people in Noisebridge whose situations worried
> me, one of them Philip who could not manage to respect boundaries and
> who Danny escorted out.  Another of them was the lady with white hair
> who is running for mayor and believes the FBI put her in SF General
> psych ward, erased her tape recorder, and is following her; she
> desperately asked me for help that I didn't know how to provide. So I
> also didn't say anything to The Angel Gabriel because I worried I was
> being overly uptight and freaked out from my earlier stressful encounters.
> I'm not sure, but it seems like part of what was going on that night
> (and over the last few days) was that Philip looks for homeless people
> in difficulty to take back to his place so that he can provide them
> "therapy", and kind of hangs out in other open or community spaces to do
> that, and has added NB to his list of hangouts.  You might need to talk
> with Philip for a while yourself in order to decide whether you think
> that's a praiseworthy thing on his part or whether it is kind of
> disturbing.
> I think at NB we have many people who might be called non-neurotypical
> in various ways and we might all vary also in our level of comfort with
> that. So for example when someone has a bit of delusions of grandeur,
> fine and dandy as long as they aren't harming anyone. If they think the
> FBI reads their email because of their theories about economics, fine, a
> bit tin foil hat IMHO but also not doing much harm. I'm not talking
> about people who might be a little rambly or awkward or annoying.  I
> guess it is when people seem really unpredictable, or predatory,
> incoherent, and plus are not already part of our community, then I
> think, why let them in the door at all?
> The bit about it being late at night and not many people in the space, I
> also have some worries that the very people who were left in the space
> who might be the ones who did not feel safe because of their own life
> situations and who have been turning to others in the space to ask them
> to behave as "authorities". During the day more people are around to
> decide together what to do. That's part of why in retrospect I wish I'd
> just asked The Angel Gabriel to leave immediately. He seemed like a risk
> that people there might not be able to cope with. So it was not just
> about my personal comfort level or some abstract idea of safe space or
> politeness or bourgeois respectability. I'm not sure what actually
> happened that night later on, but it sounds like there was a fight, the
> guy sleeping on the couch was forcibly ejected, and *then* the police
> were called.
> Something felt really "off" about the space and part of that is people
> not very strongly connected to NB and who don't know each other well
> either, letting each other in, late at night.
> I think there is also increasing class tension as more of the people
> coming in are completely homeless and lack many resources and lack a
> network of people who have access to those resources, while others of us
> are comparatively privileged, with marketable skills, shelter, food,
> jobs, emotional stability, and friends who have all of the above
> resources and more. Homeless not like "temporarily homeless hacker" but
> like "crazy person who has been on the streets for years and has just
> randomly showed up here."   We have to figure out how to talk openly
> about those issues amongst ourselves without stigmatizing poverty,
> homelessness, or mental illness.
> Obviously I'm no expert in this.
> If people want to make Noisebridge into a community soup kitchen,
> resource center, and squat, and invite people in off the street, that
> will radically change the nature of the space and the problems it faces
> and who wants to come here and why.
> I don't want to do that, though I help people out individually in the
> community where I live.
> So I am not talking about Banning People but I think there is room in
> our community to speak as individuals to tell people "I'm uncomfortable
> with you because of X, Y, Z behavior" or "because I don't trust you not
> to steal stuff".  That's what I'm going to say to people when I'm
> thinking it, in future. It will be interesting to see what answers I get.
> Other people can decide what approach they will take individually or
> collectively. I realize some may totally disagree with me that there is
> a problem. See what you think when you meet some of these folks.
> - Liz
> --
> Liz Henry
> lizhenry at gmail.com
> http://bookmaniac.org
> http://badgermama.com
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