The below E-mail is the latest information we have on the occurrances outside and inside KPFA at it's supposed “opening” on July 30th, 1999. The bottom line is that it didn't open, and the facility had been trashed, presumably by the armed security guards paid for by Pacifica Management.
This E-mail has been edited for length, and emphasis has been added by me, R. Paul Martin.
|Subject: KPFA update
Date: Fri, 30 Jul 1999 15:53:19 -0700
From: "Mitchell Plitnick" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: "savepacifica" <email@example.com>, <firstname.lastname@example.org>,
Hi, folks. Time for a KPFA update.
Today, as people are aware, the doors to KPFA were supposed to be opened at 9:00 AM. The KPFA Steering Committee, despite its objections, had called a press conference for that time, outside the station. Well, there I was at 8:45, getting ready to see what happened. 9 AM rolled around, and we were all gathering close to the area where a table and microphones were set up. But the clock just kept ticking. No one spoke over the mic until 9:25, when we were told that the press conference was being delayed because the keys still hadn't been turned over to KPFA staff. Indeed, no one seemed to know when that would occur, now that it hadn't happened when it was supposed to. Speakers spoke and activists acted, but no sign of doors being opened could be seen. Finally, Berkeley Mayor Shirley Dean (whose waffling and two-faced behavior throughout this has belied any notion that Berkeley is somehow different from the rest of the US) informed us that a rep from Pacifica and a rep from the Steering Committee were inside with City of Berkeley inspectors doing a health and safety inspection. OK, this seemed reasonable. The rally went on for a while longer, but ended without any opening of doors.
Most of the people present left at that point. I stayed for some 2 hours after. In the interim (and there would be further developments that I will get to in a moment) I spoke to several people deeply involved in the struggle, including Van Jones, Barbara Lubin and Larry Bensky. I asked them what specifically was the steering committee's strategy at this point, and what else they might like me to share with you folks. What I got is this: the question of whether or not to take back the building was more or less decided for them because Pacifica threatened to just open the building and leave it open and unguarded if they did not go into it. So, they decided they would go in when it was opened. However, they did not intend to simply go back on the air as if nothing happened. The idea at that point was to wait for a written proposal from MF Berry. I'd make sure to point out here that, from all indications, this whole maneuver was very much MF Berry's--even Pacifica's negotiating team was unaware of it yesterday. But the only word we have of it is MF Berry's statement to the press. So, the steering committee has, quite reasonably, demanded something in writing. By 1 PM today, I can attest, they had yet to receive anything. Once they get something, they will strategize about how and if to use the KPFA airwaves. A few other tidbits I gleaned: Barbara Lubin told me she did expect to continue mediation today. Van Jones made a strong appeal to everyone to keep protesting, to keep phoning representatives. He specifically asked that I tell folks to contact their representatives, especially if they live in California, but even contacting your Congress people in another state would be helpful. So, everyone please do that. Larry Bensky told me he intends to be on the air himself when KPFA reopens, whether Pacifica re-hires him or not.
Then, a member of the steering committee had a crowd around him, so I came in to see what was happening. It turns out that the inspectors had finished. It also turns out that there were some serious fire hazards inside--apparently real, since the KPFA rep agreed that it was reasonable to continue to restrict access. There was lots of broken glass all around, scattered there when the boards were put up over the windows, breaking them. The security system inside was apparently broken; this presented a pretty real problem, since many doors operated on a code-lock, push-button system, so there is a real fire hazard there. The agreement was that no more than 10 people would be inside. Rather than station a cop at each door, as the COB rep suggested, the KPFA staff agreed to monitor the door, admitting only KPFA staff and volunteers and limiting occupancy to 10. The expectation was that the glass would be cleaned up and the electrical issues solved by Monday or Tuesday, by which time the steering committee expected to have a more extended strategy.
NOTE: The rally tomorrow is still on, and still crucial. I'll let everyone know how that goes as soon as I can. ....
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