Harassment Diary

by Paulette Cooper, 1982

My 1997 editorial comments are enclosed in [[double square brackets]].

Part 3: The Gun Incident

The really horrible harassment started around October of that year, when I received the most incredibly vile anonymous smear letter based on lies of the type typically made by Scientology of their enemies (prostitute, thief, sexual pervert), and some gross distortions of information known to the former boyfriend who had tried to get me into Scientology in 1968.

From around October to December 15th (when I was later to move), there was also a tremendous amount of personal harassment. I was getting a number of obscene calls (only when I saw the Washington documents years later did I learn that the Scientologists had put my name and phone number on walls, graffiti style), nuisance calls (one day as many as 11, which obviously made it hard to write, people visiting my apartment late at night trying to get in, etc. I was starting to get quite frightened.

My distant cousin Joy slept at her boyfriend's apartment a couple of blocks away, but kept her things at my apartment and dropped by after work each day. On December 6th, a mysterious girl named Margie Shepherd came by with a petition for me to sign supporting the United Farm Workers. I gave her a small check. She stayed about a half hour. (Joy and her boyfriend were there part of the time) and asked me for a drink of water. She wasn't alone very long, and I didn't realize the significance of the following until more than a year later. But when Joy came over to my place after work, she would write her mother in California on airmail stationery. I never looked at the blank stationery itself, but was always annoyed that she would keep it on the coffee table. So after she left each day, I would toss her coffee table items on her couch. Margie was sitting next to that table.

Anyway, I had begn [[SIC]] to realize that because of the Scientology harassment I needed to move to a safer place. I lived on the ground floor of a brown-stone in a building without a doorman. Although I really couldn't afford to do it yet, I decided to extend myself and move to the building which had always been my dream apartment building (where I still live to this day.)

By this time, I was already starting to go into a bad time emotionally because of the smear letter, the harassing calls, the inexplicable attempts by people to get into my apartment, etc. My relationship with my boyfriend of the past few years, Bob.... was also getting rocky. Although it had been serious until around October, Bob did not like the harassment that was going on, and especially the fact that I was letting it get to me.

On December 19th, 4 days after I secretly moved here, and Joy took over the old apartment (but hadn't put her name on the door yet), a young black man came to my door (then Joy's but he wouldn't have known that and Joy, like me then, was a slender short-haired mostly brunette). He rang the bell as if checking if someone was home. A black man in that neighborhood was highly unusual, but Joy was still not suspicious when a second black man came by, about 15 minutes later, and rang "my" bell holding flowers. When Joy opened the door, he unwrapped the "flowers"--which were just a few twigs on top to hide a gun.

He put the gun at her head, cocked the trigger, and the gun was either empty or misfired. He then began choking her, but she managed to break away and start screaming so he fled. The attack was reported to the police (who commented on its mysteriousness). When I heard about it later, I was almost as frightened about it as Joy was (although incredibly, Bob didn't understand why I should be upset over it.)

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