This is Mike Rhodes recovering the stolen newsstand. He is holding the GPS device that pointed to the Satellite Jail of the Sheriff’s Department for the County of Fresno.

Stolen Newsstands and the Struggle for Free Speech in Fresno

This is Mike Rhodes recovering the stolen newsstand. He is holding the GPS device that pointed to the Satellite Jail of the Sheriff’s Department for the County of Fresno.

The Community Alliance newsstand in front of the Fresno County Jail has been stolen 4 times in the last year.  After the second theft, we hid a GPS device inside the newsstand to find out where the stolen newsstands were going.

On New Year’s Eve (2021) the GPS indicated the newsstand was on the move.  It went in a straight line to the old industrial section of downtown Fresno – South of Ventura.  It stopped at 2900 E Townsend.  I pulled that address up on Google Maps.  That showed the location to be a Satellite Jail of the Sheriff’s Department for the County of Fresno.

On New Year’s Day, Pam (my wife) and I drove to see if we could find the newsstand.  We arrived and quickly spotted a dumpster at the Satellite Jail that had our newsstand in it.  After taking a few photos of it in the dumpster, I retrieved it. 

Not wanting to jump to conclusions, I wrote a letter to Sheriff Margaret Mims requesting her assistance in finding out who did this.  I gave her the time when the newsstand was stolen and reminded her of all the video surveillance equipment they have which has a clear and unobstructed view of where our newsstand was.

I see this as an outrageous affront to the 1st Amendment of the Constitution guaranteeing us free speech. Whoever took this newsstand (and we can find out who they are by viewing the video)  has taken it upon themselves to decide what you are allowed to read.  They do not want you reading an independent newspaper that challenges the status quo, reports on corruption and supports social and economic justice.

We returned the stolen newsstand and papers back to the front of the jail, with the GPS.  Two days later, it was stolen again.  This time it was taken to the parking garage under the Fresno County Courthouse.  We recovered it from the dumpster.

I filed a complaint with the Fresno Police Department and an addendum after the newsstand was stolen for the second time.  I sent a letter to Sheriff Mims asking for her cooperation.  We are waiting for a response.

This is an interview about this incident with Mike Rhodes, the Executive Director of the Community Alliance. He is being interviewed by Daren Miller on KFCF 88.1 FM. This interview broadcast on Wednesday, January 5, 2021.

This is where we recovered the stolen newsstand. The Satellite Jail of the Sheriff’s Department for the County of Fresno.
Satellite Jail of the Sheriff’s Department for the County of Fresno.
This is the newsstand in front of the Fresno County Jail.
Video surveillance at the Fresno County jail.
This is the dumpster where we found the newsstand after it had been stolen the second time in a week.
After being removed from the dumpster, this shows the space, under the Courthouse, where the newsstand was found.
  • Mike Rhodes is the executive director of theCommunity Alliance newspaper and author of the book Dispatches from the War Zone, about homelessness in Fresno. www.mikerhodes.us is his website. Contact him at mikerhodes@comcast.net.

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B.P.
B.P.
8 months ago

Well it’s obviously people who work for the Sheriff’s Department. They are just taking them to other locations that Sheriff employees would ordinarily be going. And now that you’ve pointed it out, they’ll just check for the GPS device and toss it somewhere else.

David Hackett
David Hackett
8 months ago

Smittcamp needs be notified how could we expect the county peace officers to review their own complicity?

Kay Pitts
Kay Pitts
8 months ago

Looks like the sheriff’s department may have a Proud Boy or two or…

B.P.
B.P.
8 months ago

I hope this story will be updated, and not just left hanging. Was the newsstand stolen again? Have you tried setting up your own cameras nearby? This deserves to be pursued.

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