By Dave Boyce
Almanac Staff Writer
With due respect to Buffalo Springfield, there's a man with a gun over there, and what he wants ain't exactly clear.
"There" is in the 2800 block of Sand Hill Road at an entrance to an office complex near the Rosewood Sand Hill hotel at Interstate 280 in Menlo Park. The man with the gun said he is Los Angeles resident Michael Zeleny, who showed up there on Thursday (Feb. 9).
He's wearing a surplus military uniform complete with combat helmet and bullet-proof vest. He's carrying a semi-automatic M14 military rifle that he says is unloaded, and a long-lens camera.
"This public protest is in no way associated with the Rosewood Sand Hill hotel," said hotel Managing Director Michael Casey. "That entrance is not the entrance to the Rosewood Sand Hill hotel. That entrance is the entrance to 12 different addresses; Rosewood is just one of them."
The location at the corner of Sand Hill Road is the only public property on which he could stand, Mr. Casey added.
Police arrived, questioned the protester, but made no arrest. "They're very cooperative and very professional," the protester said of the police.
He is carrying two magazines of ammunition, but as long as the rifle remains unloaded, he is within the letter of the law, Menlo Park Police Department spokeswoman Nicole Acker said.
Asked if he expects to load his weapon, he replied: "I hope not. Only a direct threat (would cause that and) I don't expect that to happen."
He has fired the rifle at a firing range, he said.
What he wants, he said, is not violence but justice or, failing that, notoriety or just attention to be paid to a cold case of rape alleged to have occurred 24 years ago to a former associate. Why protest at this location? A former business partner of the perpetrator works at an office there, he said.
The statute of limitations on the alleged rape has long passed, he noted. So why stand in the direct sun in something very like a full military combat uniform over allegations that have apparently never been and probably never will be heard in a court of law?
The uniform and rifle draw attention to his cause, he said. As for the camera, he said he uses it to photograph potential clients of the business partner.
The protest, which includes a few signs, is taking place on public land, Ms. Acker, the police spokesperson, said. "He's fulfilling all our requirements, so there nothing we can do," she said. "He hasn't committed any crimes, so that's pretty much it."
"I am here to exercise my First Amendment rights and I am very glad that somebody is listening," he said.
His protest began in 2005, he said, adding that he plans to be at the Sand Hill Road location intermittently.