By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
Costa Mesa Police booking photo Don't let her fluffy white hair, compact size and disarming smile fool you. Marie Kolasinski isn't your typical granny. The 84-year-old Costa Mesan could be California's angriest revolutionary.
Leader of a Christian-anarchist-capitalist commune called the Piecemakers, Kolasinski is a cross between Andrew Dice Clay, a Golden Girl and Timothy McVeigh. Or maybe just an angrier Ayn Rand. She mixes anti-government sentiments with biblical passages and, if upset, shamelessly punctuates her remarks with profanities such as "fuck" and "asshole." Columbine, 9/11, hurricanes, fires and the Oklahoma City bombing? These, she says, are examples of "God's wrath toward a godless country. Either repent and come unto God or perish."
Kolasinski isn't an idle, elderly woman knitting sweaters and spewing philosophy in an empty room. Her politics recently got her arrested for blocking a court-ordered health inspection of her Costa Mesa restaurant following complaints of unsanitary conditions.
But her ambitions go beyond Costa Mesa. She's got a plan to destroy not just the federal government but also democracy itself. She calls for massive, "active disobedience" to build what she says is a "theocracy."
We know all this because Kolasinski has published an "If I were president" wish list. Here's a sampling:
*** To become a cop, lawyer or judge, a person would first have to spend "three months or more" in jail "to understand how awesome is his job."
*** No more taxpayer-funded inaugural parties for incoming presidents.
*** The U.S. must apologize to the world for its "arrogance."
*** No more pampering of the handicapped with choice parking spaces -- "walking is one form of therapy."
*** No more welfare programs.
*** Open national borders because "it isn't the Mexicans or the Asians screwing up the country but the offspring of the Caucasians who founded this country -- white-skinned, empty-headed with an evil heart."
*** Only one religion allowed -- "all others would have to leave the country."
*** A ban on aid to Israel.
*** No more "foolish" government AIDS research.
*** All government agencies would be taken over by private businesses or churches -- "to hell with the state."
But Kolasinski fires her angriest shots at government employees, whom she calls "roaches," "pests," "bastards," "monsters," "freeloaders," "rapists," "snoopy henchmen," "arrogant jackasses" and "Martian reptiles" enforcing "Gestapo rules." She is "appalled at the bold audacity of the roaches' encroachment on our right to freedom . . . Trust me, unless we put a stop to this bullshit, they will be in our houses next, telling us when we can eat, what we can eat and when we can go to the bathroom." She darkly warns government workers to fear retaliation "like Oklahoma [City], for instance."
"It is time we rid ourselves of all the government as we know it and start over," she says. Follow her plan, and she promises the nation will return to "our grassroots -- not to a democracy, not to a republic, but to a theocracy." Though her new national order would ban all forms of capital punishment except for lethal injection, Kolasinski is dead-serious about enforcing her vision. Anyone who opposes her plan "would be hanged by the neck unto death."
Given this background, you'll appreciate what Costa Mesa police, district attorney investigators and health-code officers faced when they approached Kolasinski's door on Oct. 26 with a court order to inspect. For 14 years, the Piecemakers have claimed they answer only to God, who "hand picked us as a first fruit in the Resurrection." The group has regularly blocked fire and health inspections following complaints such as a food server blowing her nose over a bowl of chicken soup and then wiping her hands on a dirty rag.
"I suggest that all whiners and complainers be sent to Siberia," said Kolasinski, who believes firemen should be allowed only to extinguish fires -- no more preventive activities, such as inspections -- and notes that God told her not to obey Orange County's health code for public restaurants.
"Piecemakers will be run the way He wants it run and not the way you assholes decided to run it," she told city officials in a 1995 letter. "Assholes is too sweet a word for you usurpers of God's authority."
Piecemakers has an uneasy relationship with government authority; research shows they've got a registered trademark for the Piecemakers name, and received patents on their "country store" products -- foods, quilts and other handicrafts -- since 1987.
DA investigator Greg Horton was the person assigned the monumental task of asking Kolasinski and her followers to step aside for the inspection. Horton's a large, veteran cop who normally commands instantaneous respect, but the Piecemakers -- generally tiny and female -- weren't intimidated. According to a videotape of the raid, here's what happened:
Horton: I'm with the OCDA office. We have a court order. Let us in to inspect.
Kolasinski: If you're a peace officer, you are disrupting my peace. You arrest those assholes [health-code inspectors] for disrupting my peace.
Horton: We're coming in to inspect.
Kolasinski: No. You are not coming in.
Horton: Yes, we are.
Kolasinski: Give me liberty or give me death! You can shoot me if you want to!
Horton: Calm down. We're just going to inspect.
Kolasinski: Fuck you. Get out of here. [Swings at Horton.] Get your goddamn ass out of here, hear me? We have done nothing to disobey you. Goddamn it. . . . You guys are all fucking crazy. We don't need terrorism when we got a government like this. . . . I've had more terrorists from the American government than anyplace else. I'll take a gangster any day . . . What is wrong with you guys? Fuck you, fuck all of you assholes. Fuck off, you son of a bitch!
Horton: We just want to make a health inspection.
A second Piecemaker: This is our property, asshole.
A third Piecemaker: Terrorist! You have no right! Jesus! We're the people here. Give us a fucking break. Jesus Christ! This is what you stand for? This is what you work for? To terrorize a small business? You're just gonna say, "Doing my job" just like Hitler's henchmen?
Kolasinski: This is just like what Hitler did. I'm sick of it -- goddamn sick of it. Boy, I have never seen anything like this. This is disgusting.
A fourth Piecemaker: Assholes! Fucking assholes!
Horton: We have a court order.
Kolasinski: I'd rather die than let you guys in! Bullshit! You are not going to inspect.
Another Piecemaker: This has nothing to do with health. This is not right. This is not America! . . . You are Hitler. You are fucking Hitler! Goddamn son of a bitch!
Horton: Relax, relax.
Another Piecemaker: Asshole! Fuck! Fucking assholes!
Another Piecemaker: You have sold your soul!
Another Piecemaker, screaming: You are all fucked up! All of you! So fucked up! Why do we have to go to jail? What is wrong with you?
Another Piecemaker: You guys have no conscience. Goddamn! Assholes! What the fuck! Get out! . . . This is Nazi Germany! See what you're doing to God's people?
The climactic scene occurs off-camera: while Horton occupies the women, an investigator entering the business from another door attempts to put a thermometer in a soup pot. Kolasinski's voice crescendos; the camera turns and we see police hauling her into the parking lot. Her comrades explode. They surround the officers, grabbing and yelling at the officers.
Though unusually patient, police eventually arrested Kolasinski, five other women and a man.
Later this month, Kolasinski will be arraigned in Harbor Court in Newport Beach on charges she attacked officers and ran an unsanitary kitchen; she may get off with as little as a misdemeanor, but it's easy to guess how the courts would handle blacks, Mexicans, Asians, teenagers, drunks, liberals and gay people who follow her lead.