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steve rendall of FAIR arrested at peaceful protest
For Immediate Release Contact: Rachel Coen
September 22, 2000 (415) 546-6334 x309
ARRESTS AT NAB PROTESTS:
Media critic among peaceful protesters arrested
Nine people, including FAIR Senior Analyst Steve Rendall, were arrested this morning during peaceful protests for democratization of the media at the National Association of Broadcasters’ (NAB) annual radio convention in San Francisco.
About a hundred media activists rallied peacefully at the main entrance to the Moscone Center, where the NAB convention is being held, from approximately 7:30 – 9:00 AM. Activists used creative chants and theatre to communicate their concerns, and offered fliers to convention delegates. Four activists locked themselves together in front of the building and were arrested. Around 9:30, the group began marching to the headquarters of KYLD (94.9 FM), a station owned by Clear Channel, the largest radio company in the country.
En route to KYLD, police ordered the marchers to leave the street and stand only on the sidewalk. As marchers attempted to comply, police became confrontational, attacking one man (later arrested) and arresting two others, including Rendall, a well-known media critic and co-host of the nationally syndicated radio show, CounterSpin. Rendall was arrested while attempting to return to the curb to comply with police orders.
When the march reached KYLD, two members of the station’s “Dog House” morning show crew came out of the building and attempted to initiate a physical fight with protesters, verbally abusing and shoving protesters. Police did not attempt to discourage the KYLD crew’s aggression. In the confusion, one of the glass panes in the door to the building was cracked, it is not clear whether by protesters or station employees.
Marchers began to voluntarily disperse at approximately 10:30. As he was attempting to leave the area, activist Jason Buhle was tackled by police and violently forced to the ground; he had been walking quietly and did not resist. Officers did not respond to requests that they stop hurting Buhle, who indicated that he was in pain, and would not answer questions about why he was being arrested. One other protester was also arrested at the same time.
At this writing, Rendall has been charged with a 21-954, or “pedestrian outside of a crosswalk”— jaywalking—and taken to the city jail. National Lawyers Guild representatives have been unable to gain access to any of the detainees, and three NLG lawyers were arrested this afternoon while negotiating with police for access to their clients.
“When police abuse our laws to arrest peaceful, cooperative protesters for jaywalking, it has the alarming potential to chill free speech,” says FAIR’s Program Director, Janine Jackson. “It’s darkly ironic in this case, since the rallies are meant to remind the NAB that the airwaves belong to the public, and that free speech and democracy are at risk when media’s priority is profit, not the public interest.”
Activists are determined to continue with Saturday’s planned march from U.N. Plaza to Union Square, which should be larger than today’s. “Today was a tremendous success,” says Media Alliance’s Executive Director, Andrea Buffa. “The arrests have dramatized how crucial it is that we continue to fight to defend our free speech rights.”