Demonstration heats up after being hosed down

Planned Parenthood Protestors Cite John Penna

South San Francisco, CA June 30, 2013

Penna exiting his bldg while protestors look on Photo: R Gomez

Penna exiting his bldg while protestors look on
Photo: R Gomez

On Saturday June 29th about twenty pro-life protesters demonstrated on the 300 block of Grand Avenue, which they have done for the past few months. Only this Saturday they say the building’s owner, John Penna, intentionally hosed them down. The Prolife group are protesting Planned Parenthood moving into the medical building owned by Penna at 435 Grand Avenue.  Planned Parenthood has stated this medical clinic would provide medical services for those who otherwise would not be able to afford them Plans submitted to the City of South San Francisco have been reviewed with public hearings before being  signed off by the Parking Place Commission and the Planning Commission.

The Planning Commissioners voted 6-1 in favor of the land use issue with Carlos Martin the lone dissenter, questioning if this facility would be better off somewhere near Mission Road and other medical facilities as he outlined his vision for the Downtown area. Martin’s vote against the Grand Avenue location was seen to many pro-lifers as his support with their fight, rather it was the location he voted against.

Protestors have filed an appeal with the city which will bring this issue before the city council in the near future.  They are against Planned Parenthood coming into South San Francisco and are concerned that abortions would be offered here. Further they do not believe this type of medical facility belongs across the street from All Souls Catholic Parish.

Penna using hose on Grand Ave Photo: R Gomez

Penna using hose on Grand Ave
Photo: R Gomez

Penna, a Catholic himself, believes he has a right to rent out his buildings to businesses that are approved via the processes set forth by the city. He, and others in the area, are concerned about the protestors disrupting local businesses as they block the area and keep shoppers from coming to the downtown. Protestors say to expect more of this as they will not back down.

In San Francisco, the Valencia Street Planned Parenthood has seen continued protesting from many of these same folks. In response the San Francisco Supervisors have voted on ‘buffer zones’ around Planned Parenthood to increase the buffer zone from 8 feet to 25 feet. As San Francisco Supervisor Campos was quoted in NBC Bay Area News  “The effort here is to strike the right balance between the right people have to express themselves and the right of the people to access health care including reproductive health, ” said Supervisor David Campos in a previous interview. The new law is his idea.

While protestors here are engaging  heiracy in the Catholic Church for guidance on this issue, some others from our community are asking that certain council members are recused from any voting when this item comes before council.  On June 11, 2013 South City resident Cynthia Marcopulos penned in part this protest:

Coming before the South San Francisco City Council for a vote on whether there can be a Planned Parenthood facility on Grand Avenue, our City Council has an inbred prejudice. Mayor Pedro Gonzalez’s wife is an active protester on the protest line against the Planned Parenthood facility, Councilman Mark Addiego works for Holy Cross Cemetery which is owned by the Catholic Church, and Councilman Richard Garbarino is active with St. Veronica’s Church. These council members must recuse themselves for their apparent and visible biases.

Protesters on Grand Ave Photo R. Gomez

Protesters on Grand Ave
Photo R. Gomez

Yesterday the group states they were met by Penna as he hosed down protestors including local priest, Father Joe Richard and have written an open letter to Archbishop Cordileone and pro-lifers on this event. They are also actively seeking Penna be  excommunicated from the Church. Other members in good standing with the church have been said to have been removed from certain positions due to their neutral or pro-Planned Parenthood on Grand Avenue stance.  Yesterdays actions by Penna may have involved a citizen’s arrest as is described in the open letter we obtained below:

Dear Archbishop Cordileone and Pro-Lifers,

James and myself joined Father Joe Richards to pray in front of the proposed Planned Parenthood at 435 Grand Ave. in South San Francisco around 10:30 a.m.  We didn’t leave until 12:30 p.m.

Mr. John Penna who is the owner of the proposed Planned Parenthood hosed down with a high powered water blaster Father Joe Richards 3 times and became soaked with water from head to toe, Mr. Foti 2 times, and another gentlemen and several others got a little wet as well as we did.

It was a sheer disgrace what we witnessed today because first of all Father Joe Richards is handicap and uses a cane, in his ’80’s and most importantly he is our beloved priest who is not afraid to stand for life. Father Joe was trying to talk to John Penna in a most peaceful manner when John said Father Joe was trying to strike him with his cane!  James and I were witnesses as well as others there and Father never ever tried to strike John Penna as he needed his cane to hold himself up after John Penna was hosing him down with this high powered water blaster. This John Penna has to be in his 60’s years of age.

I Eleanora told James to call the police because John Penna was getting out of control.  Two police cars arrived.  After all our statements were taken the police finally said to Father Joe and Mr. Foti that they would do a citizens arrest of John Penna after hearing Eleanora’s statement.

Unfortunately, Father Joe Richards took a hard blow from this very angry John Penna.  I quess the heat of every Saturday protesters is getting to him.  From what I heard this is the third time he has harassed people but no one has called the police on him before.

Erica Hathaway and some others people took all kinds of photos of his behavior.  We had about 20 persons doing a very peaceful demonstration today praying the rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet.  We were also informed that the City Hall has a camera there on the outside so, hopefully, it picked  up some shots of John Penna’s behavior towards these peaceful demonstrators.

God Bless, +Br. James and Eleanora+


Everything South City will continue to share the news and views from our locals on this issue as they come up including information from John Penna – which has not been sent to us, nor has it been requested or obtained.

For past articles on this please check this out HERE 


Because we are all neighbors, ESC asks that we all respond with respect to each side of this debate. Thank you.

16 comments for “Demonstration heats up after being hosed down

  1. June 30, 2013 at 10:35 pm

    Dang, he only got Foti twice?

  2. Angela De Benedetto
    June 30, 2013 at 10:38 pm

    In the event that Mr. Penna reads here, where do we sign up to become volunteer sidewalk cleaners?

  3. DeniseP
    June 30, 2013 at 11:15 pm

    If father Joe requires a cane, then why was it not supporting him in the picture above?? In the middle picture it looks like he is holding the cane above the ground. I would also sign up to be a sidewalk cleaner. For God’s sake this is a desperately needed medical clinic for females and males in our community who cannot afford the medical costs elsewhere.

    • Kaitlin O'Leary
      August 29, 2013 at 11:20 pm

      If you look at the picture closely and enlarge it, you can see the the Father was supporting himself with his cane. The white object sticking out next to him may have been the handle of a sign held by the man next to him.

  4. Support power wash bandit
    July 1, 2013 at 3:35 am

    About time someone took care of them,They are a bunch of weirdos that should Should have beenaborted them selfs. Nothing better than driving down grand Saturday morning with the kids to get coffe and see them with there very graphic pictures. Maybe john thought the priest was a little hot or seen horn coming ot of his head like the devil himself. PRO CHOICE what up people it’s 2013…………

  5. JoAnn Willis
    July 1, 2013 at 10:20 pm

    Everyone should be able to enjoy the freedom of their choice to go to businesses that they choose without interference from picketers. You can protest all you want but you have to respect others and their properties.

  6. July 2, 2013 at 3:30 pm

    Now we know how to handle “occupiers.” Hose ’em. Cops did that a lot in the South. Hope this goes to a jury. Bet we’d see jury nullification. Buffer zones shouldn’t be limited to clinics. They should be applied to all protesters. Interesting comment by woman who wants city officials to step aside because they go to church or some such. Did any reporter ask if she wants those who use Planned Parenthood or belong to NOW to do the same? As always, power comes down to media. As it says in “Philip’s Code” – “the slope isn’t slippery until the media greases it.” Nevertheless, the writer of this article did a good job. Very detailed and balanced.

  7. Danielle Brown
    July 2, 2013 at 6:01 pm

    Last time I checked we still lived in a country where people have a right to free speech. And just because Mr Pena doesn’t like the message, that does not give him the right to attack the messengers.It is sad how blind people are; the comments on this page are ignorant and hateful. The protestors are peaceful,they pray and they do not attack anyone. As for graphic pictures, Germans did not believe that Holocaust happened right under their noses, until the very graphic pictures of the victims started being displayed.
    Planned Parenthood is in the business of killing out future generations. Learn the truth people. Educate yourself before you start attacking those who are standing up for the truth.

  8. Janet
    July 2, 2013 at 6:30 pm

    Mr Penna is no more a Catholic than Nancy Pelosi or Joe Biden.
    He’s happy to make his money from killing children in the womb.
    So sad. I pray that he may have his eyes opened to what he is
    actually endorsing. Lord have mercy on him and all who are involved
    with the evil business Planned Parenthood.

  9. Evangeline
    July 3, 2013 at 8:32 am

    You are such a shame Mr Penna. I am glad you are not my father. You will never be bless in your life as long as you are supporting the culture of death.

    • Megan Penna
      July 11, 2013 at 11:19 pm

      What happened to separation between church and state? A building owner has the right to rent out his property to whomever he chooses, as long as it meets the local requirements. PPH is a benefit to the community because it allows women and men to gain access to health services and information. It supplies birth control to help prevent unwanted pregnancies, as well as prenatal care, something of the utmost importance for expectant mothers. These services are extremely expensive thru private healthcare and not everyone is able to afford that luxury! Today healthcare is extremely expensive. The services PPH offers could mean the difference between health or sickness for so many. Today in our community people are not able to afford decent healthcare and PPH gives an alternative and an affordable way to maintain health, a right we should all have! “Father” Richards, who is apart of an extremest group, is not only small minded and aggressive but he’s also a hypocrite. How can you support a church that protected and hid the abuse of children while you argue that women are sinners for their right to choose. It’s up to each and every one of use to decide what is right for ourselves and it’s not up for anyone else to judge. We will all meet our maker; its then and only then that we will be judged. I met Richards at the municipal services building and immediately he was in my face, less than a foot away, yelling absurdities about abortions, which frankly isn’t even the issue at hand because PPH isn’t performing those services in SSF. More importantly, we weren’t able to have a respectful exchange of beliefs or even a respectful conversation where differences of opinions were exchanged. It was Richards’ way or you’re a sinner who isn’t a good Catholic. As if Richards or, anyone for that matter, is in a position to speak on who is or is not a good Catholic. Aren’t priest suppose to embody the idea of love, support, and compassion? My father, John Penna has helped and encouraged growth in SSF. He spearheaded the development of biotech community, works with the Shelter Network, works with Section 8 Housing and through all this has bettered the SSF community. He was influential while on the city council, which he served for nearly 12 years and his efforts have aided the community and encouraged growth! So if thats an arrogant asshole then I’m not sure i dislike arrogant assholes! As for the person who left that comment seems just a little bit personal and unrelated to the facts at hand. Lets try to stay focused. All in all, prevention is key and knowledge is power! I support the hose down! Together as a community we can support education and free information for all!

      • Janet
        July 12, 2013 at 11:35 am

        “Prevention IS key” therefore, live a chaste life and save sex for marriage; you will never need to call on PP’s services.
        I’m sorry you have such a poor impression of Father Richards. I too was around when you were speaking with him and I only witnessed him trying to counsel you and your father – one of the Corporal Works of Mercy and an act of charity and love – and that is certainly a role he is authorized to do, although so many priests do not do that today for fear of becoming unpopular. The truth is, we do not decide for ourselves what is right and what is wrong. As you correctly say, God will be our judge when we die; and He gave us 10 Commandments by which to live our lives. That is how we make our decisions. One of them is “Thou shalt not kill.” Planned Parenthood is the largest provider of abortions in the world and it is obvious looking at their record on failing to report Statutory Rape, Child Sex Abuse, covering up Sex Trafficking, racism, over billing medicaid, violations of informed consent etc. etc., they cannot practice vice virtuously. It is not a business to have on the high street.
        I’m sorry your father was called an arrogant #######, although I couldn’t find that entry. He certainly is not that and his work for the community is to be commended, but to bring Planned Parenthood to SSF is a serious error of judgement. Especially as we have so much knowledge about that business. Women deserve better and so do men and children. Still praying that right judgement will triumph.

  10. SandraD
    July 3, 2013 at 12:58 pm

    Mr. John Penna you are in darkness. How dare you assault anyone? You went way over the line attacking Father Joe and others who are in peaceful protest to prevent another evil (Planned Parenthood) from infiltrating their city. As a Catholic Mr. Penna, you have been given the fullness of the Faith and are called to holiness and to be like Jesus. You say your a Catholic, therefore, you believe in Heaven and in Hell. You will be judged one day Mr. Penna and you will have to answer as to why you assaulted a Priest, why you supported the killing of the preborn, and many other sinful acts. You do have recourse right now Mr. Penna, confess your sins and then sin no more. Join faithful Christians who fight evil. We have a sign waiting for you and all others who will see the light and come out of the darkness. Jesus, Mary and Josepgh save souls.

  11. Elizabeth
    July 4, 2013 at 6:27 pm

    Not going to do abortions???!!!


    Their own CEO a couple of years ago stated that he wanted ALL OF HIS ‘CLINICS’ TO BE
    performing SURGICAL ABORTIONS!!!

    As far as what transpired on June 29th……what a disgrace and how sad that someone who
    ‘claims to be a good Catholic’ would do such a thing to anyone, especially a Priest in his
    80’s who is handicapped!!!!!

    I pray that Archbisihop (who has been emailed of this sad situation) will be speaking
    to Mr. Penna as a ‘dutch uncle’ as they use to say…….in other words……..telling
    it like it is……you cannot be ‘Catholic’ and pro-abortion or rent and be complicite
    in killing babies, period.

  12. Maria Madrid
    July 8, 2013 at 5:05 pm

    I feel John can rent to whom he wants to. Maybe in your life you had a bad experience with someone or yourself. Respect others and their properties and worried about yourself.Before you start pointing fingers make sure your hands are clean.

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