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Joint Houston statement on WBAI/Pacifica violence

by HCPR & PLU-KPFT Monday, Jun. 11, 2001 at 1:35 PM

Press statement issued jointly by Houston Committee for People's Radio and Houston chapter of the Pacifica Listeners Union on recent violence at WBAI radio.

Press Statement


June 10, 2001

Houston Committee for People's Radio (HCPR)

713-523-01129 *

Houston Chapter of the Pacifica Listeners Union (PLU-KPFT)

713-218-8063 *


Edwin Johnston, 713-523-0119 -

Ken Freeland, 713-218-8063

Houston groups blame Pacifica Radio for new station violence

The membership of the Houston Committee for People's Radio and the Houston chapter of the Pacifica Listeners Union are gravely concerned about the newest reports of violence at a Pacifica Foundation radio station.

On Monday morning, June 4, 2001, New York City IndyMedia reporter, Kevin Prichard attempted to interview staff and volunteeers at Pacifica radio station WBAI in Manhattan just after a group of activists had left the station protesting the rightward trajectory of programming content and management practices.

According to reports a scuffle ensued between Prichard and WBAI staffer, Paul DeRienzo, in which both people apparently suffered injuries and each accused the other of assault. Prichard was hospitalized for a broken finger and other injuries. The following day, Prichard filed criminal charges of assault against DeRienzo.

Two New York City area Pacifica protest groups, Concerned Friends of WBAI and LOUD RAPP, and the New York City IndyMedia website have issued press statements in support of Prichard's claims and against those of DeRienzo. Our Houston groups are 1,500 miles away from New York City and we have depended on public reports for the facts of this incident, which so far are somewhat sketchy.

However, recently and prior to this incident, DeRienzo has come under heavy criticism on several Pacifica related online discussion boards. He has been proven to have openly lied on air about the finances and staff of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, an organization that is highly critical of Pacifica. He has also co-hosted a program featuring Pacifica national foundation members who falsely referred to the dissident movement as "terroristic". In addition, it has been reported that DeRienzo recently threatened at least one other producer with violence.

These types of falsehoods and alignments with counter-dissident forces, plus DeRienzo's far flung criticisms and conspiracy theories about the embattled Democracy Now! program, which is a key symbol of the dissident struggle, all serve to undermine DeRienzo's credibilty concerning the June 4 WBAI fracas.

Beyond this current incident, the Pacifica Foundation itself has recently made false claims of violence against those it disagrees with. Beginning on March 26, 2001, Pacifica started a libel campaign against both listener activist Edwin Johnston of Houston and fired WBAI producer Ken Nash of New York City, based on false reports of assault by Pacifica station managers in each respective city.

Additionally, WBAI management permitted DeRienzo to make his claims of alleged assault on the air at WBAI after the incident, and two other producers to elaborate at length (including extending the allegation to the entire group that held the nonviolent protest), without allowing for a rebuttal. This is in opposition to management's stated "gag rule" of not allowing internal matters of Pacifica stations to be discussed on the air. Pacifica management only seems to uphold this rule against those individuals that it disagrees with.

These recent incidents and events over the last few years where Pacifica has hired armed guards and paid for other expensive security measures to prevent the airing of dissent during the takeover of KPFA in Berkeley in 1999 and the WBAI "Christmas Coup" in 2000 are part of a general ambience of intimidation against anyone who does not toe the Pacifica line.

Overall, we hold the Pacifica Foundation responsible for this violence and for the seemingly false claims of assault on DeRienzo's part. We conclude that the Pacifica Foundation has created an environment that encourages violence and lies, which is in direct contravention to its mission statement and charter as a media outlet whose stated intention is to foster peace and open dialogue.

Additional documents:


New York City IMC Statement Regarding Kevin Prichard

Group Condemns DeRienzo's Violence

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