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.

November 21, 2017
Gregory Elich
What is Behind the Military Coup in Zimbabwe?
Louisa Willcox
Rising Grizzly Bear Deaths Raise Red Flag About Delisting
David Macaray
My Encounter With Charles Manson
Patrick Cockburn
The Greatest Threats to the Middle East are Jared Kushner and Mohamed bin Salman
James Rothenberg
We All Know the Rich Don’t Need Tax Cuts
Elizabeth Keyes
Let There be a Benign Reason For Someone to be Crawling Through My Window at 3AM!
L. Ali Khan
The Merchant of Weapons
Thomas Knapp
How to Stop a Rogue President From Ordering a Nuclear First Strike
Lee Ballinger
Trump v. Marshawn Lynch
Michael Eisenscher
Donald Trump, Congress, and War with North Korea
Tom H. Hastings
Reckless
Franklin Lamb
Will Lebanon’s Economy Be Crippled?
Linn Washington Jr.
Forced Anthem Adherence Antithetical to Justice
Nicolas J S Davies
Why Do Civilians Become Combatants In Wars Against America?
November 20, 2017
T.J. Coles
Doomsday Scenarios: the UK’s Hair-Raising Admissions About the Prospect of Nuclear War and Accident
Peter Linebaugh
On the 800th Anniversary of the Charter of the Forest
Patrick Bond
Zimbabwe Witnessing an Elite Transition as Economic Meltdown Looms
Sheldon Richman
Assertions, Facts and CNN
Ben Debney
Plebiscites: Why Stop at One?
LV Filson
Yemen’s Collective Starvation: Where Money Can’t Buy Food, Water or Medicine
Thomas Knapp
Impeachment Theater, 2017 Edition
Binoy Kampmark
Trump in Asia
Curtis FJ Doebbler
COP23: Truth Without Consequences?
Louisa Willcox
Obesity in Bears: Vital and Beautiful
Deborah James
E-Commerce and the WTO
Ann Garrison
Burundi Defies the Imperial Criminal Court: an Interview with John Philpot
Robert Koehler
Trapped in ‘a Man’s World’
Stephen Cooper
Wiping the Stain of Capital Punishment Clean
Weekend Edition
November 17, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Thank an Anti-War Veteran
Andrew Levine
What’s Wrong With Bible Thumpers Nowadays?
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
The CIA’s House of Horrors: the Abominable Dr. Gottlieb
Wendy Wolfson – Ken Levy
Why We Need to Take Animal Cruelty Much More Seriously
Mike Whitney
Brennan and Clapper: Elder Statesmen or Serial Fabricators?
David Rosen
Of Sex Abusers and Sex Offenders
Ryan LaMothe
A Christian Nation?
Dave Lindorff
Trump’s Finger on the Button: Why No President Should Have the Authority to Launch Nuclear Weapons
W. T. Whitney
A Bizarre US Pretext for Military Intrusion in South America
Deepak Tripathi
Sex, Lies and Incompetence: Britain’s Ruling Establishment in Crisis 
Howard Lisnoff
Who You’re Likely to Meet (and Not Meet) on a College Campus Today
Roy Morrison
Trump’s Excellent Asian Adventure
John W. Whitehead
Financial Tyranny
Ted Rall
How Society Makes Victimhood a No-Win Proposition
Jim Goodman
Stop Pretending the Estate Tax has Anything to do With Family Farmers
Thomas Klikauer
The Populism of Germany’s New Nazis
Murray Dobbin
Is Trudeau Ready for a Middle East war?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail