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California and the West

9 Arrested in Protest at Berkeley Radio Station

July 20, 1999|Associated Press

BERKELEY — Police arrested nine protesters outside an embattled Berkeley radio station early Monday when they refused to get out of the street.

About 50 people were sitting in the street outside KPFA-FM with their arms locked when police told them to disperse shortly after 3 a.m. All but nine moved out of the way of traffic, police said.

The protesters were charged with unlawful assembly and failure to obey a traffic officer.

It was the second round of arrests in a continuing dispute over management of KPFA, a listener-supported public radio station that has been forced to fill air time with archive tapes since July 13. On Thursday, 10 demonstrators were arrested. On Friday, board members of KPFA and three other noncommercial radio stations sued the station's parent company, the Pacifica Foundation.

The lawsuit and arrests have followed months of turbulence at KPFA, which was founded by World War II conscientious objectors 50 years ago as the first Pacifica station and is largely supported by listener donations.

The foundation dismissed KPFA's station manager for unstated reasons, fired two veteran program hosts for criticizing the dismissal on the air and pulled the plug on another announcer for playing a tape of a news conference about the dispute. Since then, the station has been locked and all employees are on administrative leave.

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