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Memories of the Longest-Running, Non-Union Picket Line-Video
Posting Date: 03/29/2012
By Barbara Ellestad
Deena Hoff, a founding member of H.O.M.E., presents a history of the organization at the Mesquite City Council meeting, Mar. 27. Photo by Barbara Ellestad.
It's long been a loosely-remembered story in Mesquite's history that people reminisce about, even those who didn't live here at the time.
It's a tale of a group of area residents that were up in arms when a pornography store opened in town under false pretenses. Local resident and one of the founders of Help Our Moral Environment (H.O.M.E.) organization, Deena Hoff gave a presentation to the Mesquite City Council Tuesday, Mar. 27, explaining the origins and history of the group that formed in 1993.
"We still hold the record for the longest-running, non-union picket line," Hoff remarked during her presentation.
The presentation was part of the Council's declaration of the week of Mar. 25-31 as H.O.M.E. Week.
"The reason H.O.M.E. was organized was because a couple businessmen from Las Vegas decided to move their pornography business to Mesquite. At the time, there were about 1,900 people here," Hoff said as she began tracing the group's history.
"They had businesses in Las Vegas and Henderson and were going to use money from them to fuel their business here. They applied for a business license for an office supply store. As soon as the license was handed to them, they turned it back in as a pornography store."
Hoff explained that many people in the community were upset because they had moved to the area in order to have a safe, pleasant environment in which to raise their families. Almost immediately after the store opened, local residents formed the H.O.M.E. organization.
"That has been our continuing, ongoing, forever theme; to help the moral environment of Mesquite," Hoff commented.
"We're still here and we're still keeping our eye on things," she added.
Explaining that many people have moved here since 1996 without knowing the true origins of the group, Hoff said she wanted to renew the group's history in peoples' minds with the presentation.
Hoff included pictures from the days when the picket lines occupied areas around the business and remarked that "we were going to keep them going until the business was gone."
Even when the group experienced 17 straight days of temperatures averaging 114 degrees in July 1995, the picketers never left the store site.Wind storms kicked up that blew out car windows and rooftops were damaged. The picketers remained.
"We called it the Million Dollar Picket Line because 88,000 manhours were spent on the picket lines. That represents 44 years of eight hour work days," Hoff said.
She explained that the group "never wanted to break the law." The picketers stayed outside a line painted on the surrounding sidewalks so they could not be accused of trespassing on the business's property. Police were constantly monitoring the group to ensure
no trouble broke out.
People came from all over the United States and some from foreign countries to participate in the picket lines. "People traveled individually almost one and three quarter million miles to exercise their First Amendment rights," Hoff commented. "That's the equivalent of 316 round trips to New York."
She told the audience that at one time the business owner tried to sue six people that were most involved in forming the picket lines. "It took about a year before they decided to drop the lawsuit. In the beginning, they said they would drop the lawsuit if we would just take down the picket lines. What they didn't understand was that it didn't matter if the six of us had told the others to take down the picket line. It would have gone on."
Saying that the store eventually didn't have any business because of the picketers, she added that "we wrote down license plate numbers of people that came to the store. We didn't do anything with them."
Hoff read a quote from Margaret Mead that said, "Never doubt that a small group of committed citizens can change the world: indeed it is the only thing that ever has."
She described a phone call that she received on Mar. 27, 1996 with the person telling her, "you might want to get up to the picket line. There might be something going down." A group of 100 picketers had gathered that day in front of the store. "Some police officers, the FBI, and the building inspector went in to the store and flipped over the sign to say the store was closed. There was a loud 'hurrah,'" she said.
Hoff said that eventually the two pornography stores the owner had in Henderson and Las Vegas went into bankruptcy because he was using the money from them to help keep the Mesquite store open.
The store building was dismantled and hauled away shortly after it was shut down. "It was pure pleasure watching it being hauled off like that," Hoff said with a play on the store's name 'Pure Pleasure.'
At the end, 7,000 people had walked the picket line 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for 31 straight months giving the group the right to brag about being the longest-running non-union picket line.
Hoff commented that 10 years after the whole incident was over, the group embedded a plaque into the sidewalk at the picket line location to honor the organization.
And now, other than the memories, the legendary stories, and the smaller, current H.O.M.E. organization, that is what remains of a group of people who stood up for what they believed in.
Posted Date: 03/29/2012 You had your fame years ago, now go away. No one really cares. HBO and such show porno nightly and no one cares. By: ralph
Posted Date: 03/29/2012 Great job by everyone to keep Mesquite safe. Mesquite thanks you. Now, if we could get that same spirit of community involvement to stop the corruption and backdoor deals with certain "pioneers" left over in city government. By: Fran
Posted Date: 03/29/2012 Good work ladies. Thanks to you, we have a nice clean city. By: Carol
Posted Date: 03/30/2012 It is wonderful when the people stand up and protect their community. By: Kenny
Posted Date: 03/30/2012 I agree with Ralph. Keep your proselytizing for the Church, where it belongs. Perhaps in a town of 1900 people you all had the same philosophy. Now that the town is 16000 strong and a little more diverse, we don't need a group of fanatics to serve as our moral compass. By: J
Posted Date: 03/30/2012 Some will never get it. What's that old saying you can't fix stupid. I for one appreciate your works as another reason for moving here to this town where community involvement succeeded and won in what they did not want to live near. Same as Toquop a voice of determination never fails when right. Thank you for what you gave. By: desertstrong
Posted Date: 03/31/2012 HMMMM - more evidence of the "Business Friendly" atmosphere in Mesquite!
Under what pretext do you self-rightous folks accept the drinking, smoking, gambling, and (gasp) coffee drinking that goes on right in front of your noses in Mesquite. I guess youíd better get out your walkiní shoes and cameras, because the statistics show that the majority of the folks that engage in these sinful activities are from Utah. Címon. letís see if we canít turn Mesquite into a nice, clean, family friendly ghost town!
Posted Date: 04/01/2012 Desert strong..please..trying to equate a battle over an adult book store with Toquop? Not even in the same philosophical realm. One is strictly a personal moral choice; the other affects an individual's health. And, really, quoting Larry the Cable Guy? By: J