clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

EX-PICKETS PACK PARK FOR A NO-PORN PARTY

It was a party more than 30 months in the making. But to hundreds of former pickets who crowded the Bunkerville Park Monday, the 88,000 man-hours spent in a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week picket line at an adult bookstore was worth every minute.

There were tears, smiles, a sense of victory for some and a feeling that the fight had only begun for others.Dozens of participants said they were only half relieved the picketing was over. "It became almost a way of life," said Ron Halterman, St. George, who with his wife, Mary, were among the first pickets to respond to the call of Dena Hoff's HOME (Help our Moral Environment) organization. The picketing began Sept. 17, 1993, and ended last month.

Pure Pleasure Book and Video closed March 28 after a court ruling lifted an injunction that had prevented city officials from enforcing a zoning ordinance banning adult-oriented shops in the business district.

"I will miss it," Mary Halterman said of the picketing effort. "It was a chance for us to stand up for what we thought was right. It was letting people know how we felt. I'm having withdrawal."

Rita Fox, a single-parent teacher who lives in Mesquite, wept. "I have three daughters who picketed with me. We felt we were doing our part to clean up the world for future generations. I picketed because this was a moral issue I cared deeply about."

As she was speaking, someone in the crowd called, "What happened to the fox?" and she laughed through her tears. Apparently, during the long winter nights of picketing a small fox came from the nearby hills and was adopted by the pickets. They went to a grocery store to buy him granola bars because he favored them above all other food. Every night he came and every night there were granola bars waiting for him. Last winter he stopped coming. No one was ever able to find him again.

Hoff, organizer of the picket line and founder of HOME, feels that with her call for help from neighboring Arizona and Utah and the assistance of Virgin Valley residents, the picketing accomplished three things. "We upgraded community standards," she said. "We were instrumental in assisting the city of Mesquite to pass the strongest ordinance against pornography possible, and we brought together not only a community but residents of three states, an army of 7,000 picketers who fought against what they believed to be wrong."

Sally Thomley agrees. She moved from Las Vegas and became involved in the picketing. She and her husband, Bob, became the official statisticians for the group.

"We averaged about five picketers a day," she said. "Some days we only had two, but some days we had 32. There were 88,000 man-hours spent in picketing and 44 years of work if one worked an eight-hour day for seven days. "They said we wouldn't last," she said. "We bonded residents from three states in an experience none of them will ever forget."

Mesquite Chief of Police Michael Murphy said he is proud of the way his department handled the pornography fight. "With 7,000 people coming and going, we did not experience one serious incident. I was criticized for giving the pickets a list of dos and don'ts. They needed to know and so did the porno store people. My department let them all know what the rules were and everyone abided by them. I'd do the same thing again."