Juan (street protester)
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Identity and popularity
Juan is a Cuban refugee. News accounts place his age at 57 in 2001, and 60 in 2004. The protestor says he is not homeless; the public does not know where he lives and he occasionally appears at the Municipal building shelter. He is not on the streets to beg or busk and will usually turn down offers of money. He will also not accept food (because the police could have poisoned it).
He is so well known that journalists write of him in passing, assuming the readers know what they are talking about. Other people have even made products available; such as a drink coaster available from SeattleNotables.com, and on occasion vendors selling t-shirts to tourists include his picture. During a montage in the Bumfights series, Juan is seen being harassed by the film crew.
Juan screams his rant and holds his sign daily in downtown Seattle, generally around 6th Avenue and Pine Street. He is often in front of the Pacific Place entrance or the flagship Nordstrom, though occasionally he is a few blocks away at Westlake Plaza or the Macy's. His sign has changed a few times but always has two main antagonists: the Seattle Police Department and the Frye Apartments (a local subsidized housing unit for the poor and mentally ill). Frye and the SPD are always "devil communists". Other people named on the sign will include Ron Sims, Fidel Castro, the Vietcong, the Pope and Catholics, atheists, Mexican immigrants, and all citizens of Seattle. His sign often contains references to Jesus Christ and scripture. It also says "I am the Son of God" but it is unclear whether that phrase refers to Juan, or to Jesus Christ.
Juan's ranting is unintelligible to most English speakers, owing to his hard accent and that he is hoarse from screaming for so long. Juan usually does not explain what he is going on about. When asked about it he will usually dismiss the person who asked, not as if the person already knows, but as if the person is part of his persecution. The protester blames everyone in Seattle for his situation, claiming that Fidel Castro paid the Seattle Police to circulate a petition that was signed by everyone in Seattle to evict him from the Frye Apartments and that everyone in the city should be tried by the United Nations. He says that he is afraid of the Seattle Police, who he says will assassinate him in his sleep.
Juan's anger can be traced back to his residency at the Frye Apartments, a transitional housing facility on Yesler Avenue. The Frye Apartments mission is to house the perpetually homeless and facilitate their staying housed through various activities, including training. Part of this training includes a small percentage of the resident's compensation which must be paid as rent, teaching responsibility, typically $25.00 or less. Non-payment of this amount or unwanted physical contact are essentially the only ways that a person can be evicted from the Frye. In Juan's case it was the refusal to pay rent for the proscribed amount of months, which led to an eviction. Juan is also under the impression that the responsible party for his ouster was the Seattle Police, when in fact it was the King County Marshals which forcibly evicted Juan out of his apartment.
- Stanley, Laura (February 26, 2003). "Street Asylum". Seattle Weekly. Retrieved 2007-04-19.
- Levin, Rick (May 24, 2001). "Commies, Cops, and Cubans". The Stranger. Retrieved 2007-04-19.
- Say WA? - Pullout - Secret Student Handbook 2006 - The Stranger, Seattle's Only Newspaper
- Schmader, David (November 18, 2004). "FURIOUS MAN REMAINS FURIOUS". The Stranger. Retrieved 2007-04-19.
- "Wave at the nice crazy man in front of Pacific Place yelling unintelligibly about the Seattle police being communist".