FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Pacifica Chairman Berry Urges Janet Reno to Pressure Berkeley Cops

by Alexander Cockburn And Jeffrey St. Clair

The new crisis at KPFA, the Pacifica flagship station in the Bay Area broke out on Sunday, June 13 when 22-year KPFA veteran Robbie Osman explained to listeners that Pacifica exec director Lynn Chadwick was a liar. Osman explained that Chadwick was planning to attend the Pacifica national board meeting in Washington on the last weekend in June to inform the board members, none of whom have an experience in community radio, that the situation at KPFA had returned to “equilibrium.” Osman told his Northern California audience that this was nonsense and that quite the opposite was true, and that they were moving further away from equilibrium.

Chadwick waited until the following Friday afternoon to act, at which time she sent a letter to Osman saying that he had “forfeited” his right to be on the KPFA/Pacifica airwaves and was fired.

The following Sunday, June 20, at the time of Robbie’s scheduled regular broadcast, while hundreds of KPFA supporters rallied on Martin Luther King Jr Way, in front of the KPFA building, the staff took the station off the air, and for two hours – for the first time in 25 years – the frequency was silent.

The following morning, after fourteen protesters had camped on the street – including CounterPunch special correspondent Jeffrey Blankfort – in front of the building and the adjacent HQ of Pacifica’s Lynn Chadwick, were arrested for blocking the entrance to the Pacifica office. The Berkeley police, unlike the 1960s – were reluctant to make the arrests, requiring Chadwick to do it herself. Chadwick had to go to each protester and ask them personally if she could pass. When they told her exactly where she could go, other than through the door of Pacifica, the cops then gently removed the first nine. Two hours later, five more women, including one in a motorized wheelchair, blocked the door again, while Pacifica’s staffers inside prepared paperwork for the weekend meeting.

This demo by a group of Berkeley, elders, all long-time supporters of the station, pushed Chadwick and Pacifica over the edge. Chadwick then had the employees remove all their files from the office, transferring them over the heads of the protesters, abandoning the Pacifica office. The police then required Chadwick once again to do the citizen’s arrests. This mightily displeased Chadwick who seemingly reported to chairman Mary Frances Berry back in Washington that the Berkeley cops were way too friendly to the KPFA protesters. The plot now thickens. The KPFA news reported that the Berkeley police chief Dash Butler had confirmed that Joe Brann, a Justice Dept official with the COPPS program (money for local forces round the country for community policing) had phoned him expressing the Justice Dept’s concern about the indulgent treatment KPFA protesters were getting at the hands of Berkeley’s finest.

Butler then emphasized that his call should not be construed as arm twisting. According to KPFA news, Butler said the initial request for Justice Dept intervention might have come from Chairman Berry, though he couldn’t say for sure. He apparently intimated that Attorney General Reno had learned of the KPFA situation in Berkeley from a personal friend. To us at CounterPunch this sounds like a typical Clinton liberal – Mary Frances Berry calling up her pal Reno to stiffen up the strong arm of the state.

The security team hired by Pacifica management has now been doubled, at an estimated cost of $20,000 a month, paid for by listener/subscribers. This weekend a delegation from the station and from the community is off to Washington to represent KPFA interests at the Pacifica national board meeting. Earlier this week a group of local citizens including the Arch-Druid David Brower, San Francisco’s poet laureate Lawrence Ferlinghetti, called for Chadwick’s termination.

Meanwhile a second front may have been opened Thursday, June 24. KPFA talk show host Dennis Bernstein on the airwaves of Pacifica’s sister station in New York, WBAI, in the early hours of the morning played tapes he had recorded during the arrests and protests that followed. Later, that morning, on the WBAI’s morning show host Bernard White followed with the full story on events in Berkeley. This bi-coastal alliance is not welcome in Pacifica’s high command. Finally, a suit by Pacifica regional board members, challenging the legality of Berry and the national board’s power grab at the end of February is poised to be filed by Oakland attorney Dan Siegel. So the fight for the future of alternative radio continues at full tilt.

Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His new book is Killing Trayvons: an Anthology of American Violence (with JoAnn Wypijewski and Kevin Alexander Gray). He can be reached at: sitka@comcast.net. Alexander Cockburn’s Guillotined! and A Colossal Wreck are available from CounterPunch.

Weekend Edition
May 27, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
Silencing America as It Prepares for War
Rob Urie
By the Numbers: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are Fringe Candidates
Paul Street
Feel the Hate
Daniel Raventós - Julie Wark
Basic Income Gathers Steam Across Europe
Andrew Levine
Hillary’s Gun Gambit
Jeffrey St. Clair
Hand Jobs: Heidegger, Hitler and Trump
S. Brian Willson
Remembering All the Deaths From All of Our Wars
Dave Lindorff
With Clinton’s Nixonian Email Scandal Deepening, Sanders Must Demand Answers
Pete Dolack
Millions for the Boss, Cuts for You!
Peter Lee
To Hell and Back: Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Gunnar Westberg
Close Calls: We Were Much Closer to Nuclear Annihilation Than We Ever Knew
Karl Grossman
Long Island as a Nuclear Park
Binoy Kampmark
Sweden’s Assange Problem: The District Court Ruling
Robert Fisk
Why the US Dropped Its Demand That Assad Must Go
Martha Rosenberg – Ronnie Cummins
Bayer and Monsanto: a Marriage Made in Hell
Brian Cloughley
Pivoting to War
Stavros Mavroudeas
Blatant Hypocrisy: the Latest Late-Night Bailout of Greece
Arun Gupta
A War of All Against All
Dan Kovalik
NPR, Yemen & the Downplaying of U.S. War Crimes
Randy Blazak
Thugs, Bullies, and Donald J. Trump: The Perils of Wounded Masculinity
Murray Dobbin
Are We Witnessing the Beginning of the End of Globalization?
Daniel Falcone
Urban Injustice: How Ghettos Happen, an Interview with David Hilfiker
Gloria Jimenez
In Honduras, USAID Was in Bed with Berta Cáceres’ Accused Killers
Kent Paterson
The Old Braceros Fight On
Lawrence Reichard
The Seemingly Endless Indignities of Air Travel: Report from the Losing Side of Class Warfare
Peter Berllios
Bernie and Utopia
Stan Cox – Paul Cox
Indonesia’s Unnatural Mud Disaster Turns Ten
Linda Pentz Gunter
Obama in Hiroshima: Time to Say “Sorry” and “Ban the Bomb”
George Souvlis
How the West Came to Rule: an Interview with Alexander Anievas
Julian Vigo
The Government and Your i-Phone: the Latest Threat to Privacy
Stratos Ramoglou
Why the Greek Economic Crisis Won’t be Ending Anytime Soon
David Price
The 2016 Tour of California: Notes on a Big Pharma Bike Race
Dmitry Mickiewicz
Barbarous Deforestation in Western Ukraine
Rev. William Alberts
The United Methodist Church Up to Its Old Trick: Kicking the Can of Real Inclusion Down the Road
Patrick Bond
Imperialism’s Junior Partners
Mark Hand
The Trouble with Fracking Fiction
Priti Gulati Cox
Broken Green: Two Years of Modi
Marc Levy
Sitrep: Hometown Unwelcomes Vietnam Vets
Lorenzo Raymond
Why Nonviolent Civil Resistance Doesn’t Work (Unless You Have Lots of Bombs)
Ed Kemmick
New Book Full of Amazing Montana Women
Michael Dickinson
Bye Bye Legal High in Backwards Britain
Missy Comley Beattie
Wanted: Daddy or Mommy in Chief
Ed Meek
The Republic of Fear
Charles R. Larson
Russian Women, Then and Now
David Yearsley
Elgar’s Hegemony: the Pomp of Empire
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail