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POLICE SHUT DOWN IMC SATELLITE DUE TO BOGUS BOMB SCARE

by By Marge Buckley, IMC print Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2000 at 12:42 PM

At 4:30 pm yesterday, Monday, LA County police advised the Shadow Convention meeting in Patriotic Hall in Los Angeles that there was a possible bomb in a van in the parking lot. In response, security people notified all personnel to deactivate their cell phones and walkie talkies in case they might activate the suspected bomb.

error

At 4:30 pm yesterday, Monday, LA County police advised the Shadow Convention meeting in Patriotic Hall in Los Angeles that there was a possible bomb in a van in the parking lot. In response, security people notified all personnel to deactivate their cell phones and walkie talkies in case they might activate the suspected bomb.

At 5:00pm three young activists from Santa Cruz, Vince Lombardo, and twin sisters, Rachel and Sarah Cadman, were taking a break from their work as independent media center audio/radio reporters. They were having a sandwich in Rachels old orange van which had been parked in the Patriotic Hall parking lot for three days. Suddenly they were surrounded by 6 officers in tan uniforms, Los Angeles County Police, who told them to put the sandwich down and step back from the car. They were patted down and then taken to the southeast corner of the parking lot. They were told the police had received an intelligence report early that morning and that their vehicle matched the description of a van which was transporting explosives. On being told that if she consented to a search, only a bomb-sniffing dog would be used on her van, Rachel gave her consent to the search if she could watch.

At this time, Los Angeles County Police cordoned off the parking lot, refusing permission to any persons to enter the lot. Free Speech TV was maintaining a truck and generator for the purpose of uplinking television programs by satellite throughout the world. They were producing Democracy Now with Amy Goodman. Monday they were preparing to do the first Independent Media Center newscast of the events of the Democratic National Convention with particular emphasis on the demonstrations by community organizations on important global, national and local issues. But now Free Speech TV was being prevented from going to its truck to broadcast the news.

LAPD officer Grant then searched the vehicle but, strangely, without protective gear or special equipment. He was watched by Rachel Cadman and by an attorney Legal Observer from the Lawyers and Legal Observers Dispatch Center. On finishing, Grant said there was no bomb and that they obviously had the wrong car since Rachels registration matched her California plates. The vehicle the police were looking for supposedly had Oregon or Colorado license plates.

Officer Grant then told the three that they were free to go. However, as they started to leave the lot, they were stopped by LA County Police who said they could not go because the LA police bomb squad was still going to search their van. Then, in the presence of her lawyer, Rachel repeatedly stated that she retracted her permission to search her car. Nevertheless, the young people were detained for a period in excess of 3 hours.

During this time, attorneys from the National Lawyers Guild and The Midnight Special Law Collective attempted to negotiate with the Los Angeles County Police. During these talks, Assistant Chief Ronald Newton stated that he thought there was only a 50-50 chance there was a bomb. He was immediately asked, if that were true, why hadnt he ordered an evacuation. The attorneys were unaware at that time that an LAPD officer had already searched and found no bomb.

One of the attorneys then made contact with the Shadow Convention to inquire what their response to the purported bomb threat was. At that point, organizers of the Shadow Convention began to attempt to reach members of the City Council and other political officials.

Shortly thereafter, the Shadow Convention attendees, then in session in the auditorium of Patriotic Hall were told they had to evacuate the building.

The participants left the building and remained out in front of the building for approximately 1/2 hr. Then, about 30 LA County Police in riot gear marched up the staircase followed by Independent Media reporters and videographers They marched directly past the 6th floor which houses the Independent Media center during the Democratic National Convention but without stopping to order an evacuation of that floor.

During their detention, one of the young women, Sara Cadman, attempted to speak with an attorney, but was told by the county police that she was already represented by the attorney present from the Lawyer and Legal Observer team. The police refused to permit her to speak to the Indymedia Attorney who was standing nearby and attempting to negotiate with the police. A large officer continually placed himself between the attorney and Sarah. Sarah did manage to communicate the important information that she heard an officer say that when the satellite link was shut down the problem would evaporate. So, finally, the real reason for the police presence became known!

As a result of this police tactic clearly designed to prevent the uplinking of alternative political coverage of the demonstrations in Los Angeles, the first live broadcast of the Independent Media Center was prevented. However, the show was produced anyway, and tapes were express-mailed to other areas to be uplinked there by Satellite. This probably caused a delay of 2 days.

More importantly, with Amy Goodman and Laura Flanders producing news shows from the Center, the actions of the police took front and center stage for a while. This was the first time that police have succeeded in preventing the publication of news by such obvious tactics. Their targets previously were the protesters and demonstrators, not the alternative journalists present. But later yesterday evening, as reported in other stories in this issue, the Los Angeles Police Department applied all of the techniques they had been monitoring in Seattle, Washington, and Philadelphia, including the use of tear gas, pepper spray, truncheons and rubber bullets.

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