Joint Statement of the United Movement
for a free Pacifica
Read by WBAI's Janice K Bryant, Sunday, March 5, 2001 at the Pacifica National Board meeting in Houston, Texas.
My name is Janice K. Bryant. I'm a banned producer from WBAI (applause and cheers) I was the line producer of Wake Up Call, the morning show, for 6 years. The unpaid volunteer.
I'd like to make an aside. As far as the grievance procedures that Ms. Wash spoke to, I know for a fact - this is not hearsay - I have two grievances, alone. Sharan Harper's grievance has gone...she is the fired producer of Wake Up Call...her grievance has gone to the NLRB. And what they're...in February, as an unfair labor practice. It was filed there by the union.
I have a statement here that I'm going to read, three minutes long. It was put together by scores of people from accross the country, from all five signal areas.
Fifty-two years ago, Lew Hill launched the Pacifica Network with a vision. A vision of radio being used to foster peace, justice, community and understanding among diverse peoples. 1949 was an ominous moment in our history. Then as now, sinister forces were on the rise in America. The Bomb had just been invented. McCarthyism was gaining strength. A global empire was being constructed by violence and deceit. Nonetheless, fearless, thought- provoking exploration of the issues and ideas of the day was Pacifica's guiding mission.
Today, we believe that mission is as relevant as ever. However, to our deep dismay, that vision has been repreatedly betrayed in the past ten years. Pacifica's National Board, and the bureaucracy it spawned, has violated the trust of hundreds of thousands of loyal listener-sponsors accross the country.
We denouce and condemn the following:
1) The firing and banning of hundreds of producers and volunteers.
2) The reduction of ethnic and cultural diversity of local programs.
3) The use of the gag rule to silence dissent.
4) The illegitimate nature of this Board: the presence of Board members whose terms have expired (applause) and the illegal by- laws changes of '97 that allowed the number of at-large directors to greatly increase.
5) The complete and illegal exclusion of the local advisory boards from the role they are supposed to play (applause) in Pacifica's democratic governance.
6) Proposed new by-laws that would enable five Board members to authorize the sale of a station
7) The sloppy management of finances and the lack of access to Pacifica's financial records for the past six years.
8) The use of hostile, union-busting tactics at a network that has always prided itself on its support of workers and their struggles.
9) The extension of the role of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in the finances and internal affairs of Pacifica.
10) The depoliticization of program content which abets the rightward drift in US culture.
11) The recent hiring, for an unspecified sum of money, of a PR firm that is being used to slander and defame Pacifica's critics.
12) The closure of KPFA for twenty-three days and for its armed occupation during July-August 1999.
13} The Christmas Coup of WBAI that has led to the gutting of the most successful, in terms of audience size, donations and journalism awards, of Pacifica's five stations.
14) The extreme and unrelenting harassment and abuse of Amy Goodman and the attempt to impose editorial control over her award-winning news program.
15) The use of the race card...that's right, I said...the race card to divide and pit people against each other.
Several hundred people from around the country who love this network have rallied to its defense in Houston this weekend. With the exception of a half-dozen dissident Board members who continue to defend Pacifica's democratic tradition, we found the Board's behavior yesterday to be condescending and disingenuous. Just now we've listened to you *seem* to regard our deep concerns about has happened at WBAI in the past two weeks but we're not really sure that you are listening to us. And it seems that the Board's ruling majority is truly unable, or unwilling, to understand the concerns of its growing legions of critics.
Our differences are irreconcilable. Irreconcilable. I'll say it again, our differences are irreconcilable. The only thing we will negotiate with you are the terms of your departure. (applause)
In the coming months we will be conducting an escalating campaign of community organizing as well as massive, non-violent direct action against the illegally seated Pacifica Board members. We see around us a growing pro-democracy movement, both in this country and around the world. (applause).
Pacifica is not a jukebox. It should be, and will be, at the forefront of this movement, just as it has been at the forefront of every major social justice movement in the past 50 years.
This can only begin to happen with your departure. We demand that you step down and that the Pacifica Board be reconstituted along democratic lines.
(ALL) Resign Now!
(at this point the audience turns its back on the board at chants "resign now!" then the chant morphs to "democracy now!" then breaks into song "nananana nanana hey hey e-yyy goodbye" nananana nananana hey hey eyy, resign"
(The singing crowd was ecorted out of the meeting room by security guards)
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