Edwin Johnston Legal Fund Announcement 4-2-01
From: Edwin Johnston
Date: Mon Apr 2, 2001 7:47pm
Subject: Edwin Johnston Legal Fund Official Announcement
Edwin Johnston Legal Fund Official Announcement
The National Pacifica Listeners Union has set up a legal fund (details below) to defray the legal costs related to the incident at KPFT on March 23, 2001, where I was assaulted by station manager Garland Ganter and others. I was then arrested and jailed for assault based on false reports given to police by Ganter and his wife, KPFT employee Molly O'Brien. Ms. O'Brien also assaulted my fellow demonstrator Sheila Harris. Then three days later, Pacifica executive director Bessie Wash and Pacifica national board chair David Acosta interrupted programming on Pacifica stations and affiliates to slander me and my fellow Houston demonstrators, many others in the movement and the movement on the whole.
These funds will be used initially to pay my attorney to defend me against two false charges of assault. They will also be used to fund expenses for civil lawsuits against many people connected to this case, including Ganter, O'Brien, the Pacifica Foundation, Wash, Acosta and others as warranted. The funds for civil litigation will be for myself, Sheila Harris, Shannon Smith, and Wendy Breunig; each of us being present during the incident and each of us having cause to sue for damages.
The immediate expenses for this case are $1,000, but we will soon need many more thousands of dollars for such expenses as depositions and filing fees. I am completely unable to afford any of this myself as I am basically indigent and have been so for over a decade. Please consider contributing to this fund to support your fellow Pacifica dissenters, for the cause of freedom and the democratization of Pacifica Radio.
For more information on this case, see my: "Violence from KPFT" webpage http://www.hal-pc.org/~edi/kpft.html
Edwin Johnston Legal Fund
Make checks payable to:
The check should be made out to "Pacifica Listeners Union" or "PLU." *NOTE: MAKE SURE that you note "Edwin Johnston Legal Fund" in the memo area of your check. Funds will be deposited in the PLU bank account in Los Angeles and disbursed to Edwin Johnston or his designees, as he requests.
Dear Sisters and Brothers in the movement to free Pacifica;
There is an immediate need for $1,000.00 dollars to cover Edwin Johnston's attorney's fees and other immediate expenses related to Pacifica's false charges against him.
It's crucial that we defend Edwin and the other activists who were subjected to a physical assault as they passed out flyers in front of KPFT in Houston.
This is a battle that must be won in the court as well as in public opinion. As you know, Pacifica's executive director recently interrupted a national broadcast of Democracy Now! to villify and libel Edwin personally as part of a stepped up Pacifica propaganda campaign to paint the movement to free the network as "violent."
Edwin must be supported and the public relations campaign must be defeated - starting by defeating it in the courtroom. A victory for Edwin in court would be a sharp defeat for Pacifica's public relations smear campaign against our movement.
Checks for Edwin's legal expenses can be made to the
Pacifica Listeners Union
Be SURE to put a note in the memo section of your check saying "EJ legal fund."
Violence: Pacifica's Big Lie: An Open Letter to Bessie Wash
The illegally seated Pacifica National Board, in its efforts to fulfill its Strategic Five Year Plan to mainstream Pacifica's programming, has reached a new low in its "big lie" tactics aimed at painting the movement to free Pacifica as "violent."
Your interruption today of Democracy Now! to commit libel against a member of the Pacifica Listeners Union local in Houston is an outrage reminiscent of the interruption of a live interview with Congressman Major Owens by Utrice Leid, interim general manager of Pacifica's WBAI in New York City, in the interests of Pacifica's version of the "truth."
Concretely, what occured at KPFT was this. Members of the Pacifica Listeners Union and the Houston Committee for People's Radio were leafleting outside the station, passing flyers from the Pacifica Campaign to other listeners attending a promotional event in the back yard of the KPFT studios at 419 Lovett Blvd.
Molly O'Brian is a KPFT employee and wife of KPFT General Manager Garland Ganter, who oversaw the armed takeover of Pacifica station KPFA in Berkeley in 1999 and whose orders to arrest KPFA journalists and other staff and listeners there are a matter of public record.
In the Houston events, O'Brian approached a leafletter, a woman of slight stature, assaulted her and snatched away the leaflets she was distributing. Pacifica Listeners Union member Edwin Johnston followed O'Brian, justly demanding that the leaflets be returned.
O'Brian then screamed, literally, "RAPE!" Suddenly, as if on cue, Ganter and another KPFT employee appeared, and, according to witnesses, assaulted Mr. Johnston.
For those of us who are familiar with the workings of the Houston Police Department, with its widespread reputation for racist repression and murder, and its history of repression of political dissent, it comes as no surprise that it was Mr. Johnston, and not Mr. Ganter or his wife who was arrested at the scene.
The actual events have all the earmarks of a staged provocation, designed by Pacifica to give it an opportunity to spread help create the image of a "violent" opposition.
Ms. O'Brian and Mr. Ganter should be aware that filing false charges is both a criminal and civil offense, and you should be aware of the penalties for libel. You may rest assured that we are aware of them.
The events at KPFT remind many of us of other opportunistic falsehoods spread by the Pacifica hierarchy regarding our movement.
Prior to one Pacifica National Board meeting in Houston, a fire was set to the garage apartment behind the studios of KPFT. Mr. Ganter created the impression in an interview with the Houston Chronicle that this was the work of free Pacifica activists.
Later, the truth came out. Ganter had confronted a homeless youth who'd been squatting in the garage apartment, and had driven him from the premises. This young man was later arrested and charged with arson.
Ganter could not but have been aware that the young man was a suspect in the case, but rather than expose his own antipathy for homeless youth and tell the truth about the fire's probable cause, Ganter, in line with Pacifica's public relations policy, endeavored to lay the blame at the doorstep of free Pacifica activists.
Pacifica has endeavored to use the police in other circumstances to attack and discredit the free Pacifica movement.
Former Pacifica National Board Chair Mary Frances Berry, who is also a Presidential appointee as Chair of the US Civil Rights Commission, in a self and system exposing maneuver, used her connections to the US Justice Department to apply pressure to the Berkeley Police Department to be more aggressive -- read that brutal -- with the thousands strong movement in the streets of Berkeley in protest of the Ganter-led takeover of KPFA.
Pacifica also turned the names of thousands of Pacifica listeners over to the police. Their "crime" ? Writing letters of protest to the Pacifica hierarchy. Pacifica asserted, however, that they were all suspects in an attempted _murder_. One night, before the movement to free Pacifica had taken off in Berkeley, someone had fired a shot through a window at the Pacifica offices at midnight, when, of course, no one was there.
This Pacifica construed as "attempted murder" in its public relations blitz, and used this thin pretense to violate the civil rights of thousand of its listeners.
As part of its ongoing campaign to distance others from the movement to liberate Pacifica from its grasp, the Pacifica hierarchy has repeatedly claimed that it has received threats of violence from its listeners. Not a single document or recording has been produced, however, to substantiate these charges.
The arrest of Edwin Johnston is a part of this larger pattern, and is an expression of Pacifica's growing desperation in the face of a movement that has every chance of defeating the current Pacifica regime in the streets, in the courts, and in the hearts and minds of progressive people everywhere.
Your interruption of a national broadcast to libel Mr. Johnston in a case that is, in any event, a petty, ticketable offense, would be laughable were it not part of a larger pattern of lies, secrets and the abuse of power in the name of crushing dissent.
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