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Picketers Force Way Into Station : Protest Boils Over at KVEA-TV

September 21, 1989|SANTIAGO O'DONNELL | Times Staff Writer

The latest in a series of demonstrations against the Spanish-language television station KVEA (Channel 52) turned into a shoving match last week when about 30 Latino picketers forced their way into the station's Glendale headquarters demanding to talk to the general manager.

The demonstrators left the building when employees from the television station called Glendale police. No arrests were made, but the protesters were warned by police to stay outside the building or face arrest.

The protest was the latest of about half a dozen over the last three months in which the station has been accused of "continuing prejudice and racism" in its hiring practices and programming. Demonstrators on Sept. 14 accused KVEA of not covering local festivities leading up to Mexican Independence Day.

The demonstration began on Air Way in east Glendale's industrial belt, with the protesters pacing the KVEA sidewalks while chanting "Don't watch KVEA," and "Mexicans, yes, Cubans no" in English and Spanish.

'Let's Go In!'

As a reporter watched, one of the picketers said to protest leader Raul Ruiz: "The doors are open, let's go in!" As the demonstrators made their way through the lobby, station employees implored them to leave the building. Ruiz and about 10 others charged into the newsroom shouting "KVEA racists!" as station employees struggled to close the newsroom door, leaving most of the demonstrators in the lobby.

For the next minute or so, a group of employees shoved to keep the door closed while the demonstrators tried to force it open. Meanwhile, the protesters inside the newsroom paraded their picket signs around the desks while shouting slogans against the station.

Ruiz demanded to see Steve Levin, the station's general manager, whose door remained closed. The protesters finally returned to the picket line after an employee called police.

A patrol car arrived minutes later. After a brief meeting with Levin, Glendale Police Officer W. T. Halversen told the protesters that they had the right to demonstrate outside the building but would be subject to arrest if they entered the station again.

In recent weeks the demonstrators, calling themselves the Coalition of Mexican and Chicano Organizations for the Improvement of Mass Media in Los Angeles, have complained of the "Cubanization" of Channel 52, which carries the programming of the Miami-based network Telemundo. The protesters claim that the station has favored Cubans in its hiring and airs mostly Cuban-oriented programs.

The station denies any bias, and Levin said steps are being taken to address the protesters' concerns. A community advisory board has held its first meeting, he said, and the station is studying its preliminary recommendations.

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