freaks, or what?

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an incident in Oakland

During the first days and weeks of Occupy Wall Street, while the corporate media was still ignoring the movement, KPFA and other stations of the Pacifica Radio network were publicizing it widely, giving it good coverage. So it would seem appropriate that KPFA's manager should have been permitted to say a few words at a rally which was held in support of Occupy Oakland on Saturday, October 15th.

Unfortunately, the MoveOn emcee wouldn't let him speak. This completely goes against the spirit of Occupy Wall Street. Isn't this movement supposed to be about getting past petty differences, striving towards inclusiveness?

MoveOn's rally was actually held separately, though many attendees thought it was part of the Occupy Oakland event. Did MoveOn seek to join the occupiers? to co-opt them? to confuse them? This incident may illustrate an important difference between these two groups. One is a consensus-oriented, direct democracy; the other is all about ends-driven, top-down power politics.

Below is an email report from Stan Woods, followed by one from Andrew Phillips. Then a response from MoveOn's Jack Kurzweil, more from Andrew and Stan, and some background from Henry Norr who participated in the Occupy Oakland general assembly the evening before.


EMAIL from Stan Woods:

KPFA's manager, Andrew Phillips, approached the sound truck/stage at yesterday's rally and asked to give a brief statement in solidarity with ''Occupy Oakland ''. However he was turned away . The dubious basis for refusal was that KPFA allegedly hadn't publicized or built the event. However the station has actually given extensive coverage of the entire Occupy Wall Street movement including the smaller (but still sizeable) outlying events such as "Occupy San Leandro", "Occupy San Rafael", "Occupy Richmond" and even "Occupy Walnut Creek"!

I suspect the real reason was a sectarian reprisal for Andrew's role at the station. After all, the main organizer of yesterday's event was NOT ''Occupy Oakland''--it was (whose Events Committee is chaired by Jack Kurzweil).

I believe I have relayed Andrew's account accurately. If I omitted anything please correct me.

Stan Woods
October 16, 2011


Andrew Phillips confirmed the report in an email, saying:

That's what happened. I don't know if Kurzweil nixed me but he was certainly there. Steve Scheisser was the man I approached near the stage. He seemed to recognize my voice when I told him I was manager of KPFA and would be willing to speak in support of the event. He was somewhat dismissive and asked why KPFA had not supported the event in the first place.

I told him KPFA had been all over Occupy -- that I personally introduced occupiers to KPFA last Tuesday and invited them into the station and introduced them to the Flashpoints crew suggesting they do a daily update which they now do. That Mitch Jeserich has done a lot and planned a live broadcast from Oakland Monday, and was in fact at the event on Saturday. The KPFA news has been all over it too.

Pacifica has been out front and center on Occupy -- WBAI is running a half hour daily program with occupiers, LA has a tent in the encampment. KPFA has done a lot of live coverage from the street from the start.

He told me Kurzweil was on their board and I told Steve that Kurzweil was also on the KPFA Local Station Board so I didn't get why KPFA would not be included and informed about the action and that we most certainly would have publicized it. And I left.

It was a great event and I saw a lot of KPFA supporters there. Had I had the opportunity to speak I would have offered our support -- informed folks that they could tune in to hear regular programming at 10am and 5pm and encouraged them to support us as we have been supporting them. I am sure many of the young know nothing of Pacifica. It would have been a fine outreach opportunity.

Andrew Phillips
General Manager (Interim)
KPFA Pacifica Radio 94.1FM
October 16, 2011


MoveOn's Jack Kurzweil responds:

Dear All,

I just returned from a lovely hike in Briones (9 miles, 2200 feet) and, encrusted in salt, found some emails (see above) inferring a devious and sectarian plot on my part to prevent Andrew Phillips from speaking at the Jobs-Not-Cuts rally on Saturday, October 15th at Frank Ogawa Plaza.

The same email exchange was posted on Daniel Borgstrum's blog. Nobody asked me to comment.

So here is my comment.

Although I was involved in planning the program in the period before October 15th, I was not involved in executing the program on October 15th. Both at the march's beginning at Laney and at the end in Frank Ogawa Plaza, the program was controlled by two women, the stage manager and the MC. I was not and still am not either one of those women.

I was involved in logistics, particularly collecting money to offset the costs of the march as well as working with the monitors. I simply was not involved with the program on that day. Andrew never approached me, asking if he could speak; I didn't know that he wanted to speak. I had nothing to do with that.

I therefore want a full and complete apology from Andrew for in any way inferring, stating, hinting, implying, or otherwise suggesting that I had anything to do with his request to speak not being honored.

I would ask for apologies from Stan, Joe, and Daniel as well, except that would be futile. Any statement that they would make would no doubt extend my guilt to being part of the 9/11 conspiracy and Stan would argue for my personal responsibility in the killing Trotsky.

Were it possible in the insane atmosphere of KPFA to have a useful on air discussion of the complexities of the relationship between the Jobs-Not-Cuts demo and the Occupy Oakland event, it could be some very interesting radio.

All the best,
Jack Kurzweil
October 19, 2011


Andrew Phillips responding to Jack Kurzweil:

Dear Jack,

You are correct I did not nor did I say or imply I approached you. So I certainly apologize if you or others think I did.

My email explains clearly what happened. I wrote the email when asked to confirm what happened at last Saturday's rally. I was not terribly concerned about the incident but reported it for the record. Others with more experience with the intricacies of KPFA and local politics weighed in as is their right.

I think some felt that since you were involved with the rally and are with KPFA, that perhaps you might have thought to ask KPFA's involvement. My sense on the day was that there was disappointment by organizers at the Job-Not-Cuts rally because KPFA or I had not gotten behind the rally. I was never asked to get behind the rally. But since I was there on Saturday and recognized the opportunity to throw KPFA's support behind it and the Occupy movement, I requested a minute or two to share that with the crowd. That's all. My request was refused. Perhaps there was no space in the line-up. I don't know.

I have no desire to inflame the combustible KPFA LSB. I have noted more than once, the misinformation and lopsided story telling that masquerades as "the truth" when it comes to internal KPFA politics and some on our LSB. But perhaps, since I have been voted by your colleagues on your side of aisle as incompetent, you have no confidence in my remarks.

However your suggestion to discuss "the complexities of the relationship between the Jobs-Not-Cuts demo and the Occupy Oakland event, ... could be some very interesting radio" is a good one. And perhaps the complexities between the differing points-of-view in the KPFA community, suggested by our program director would make good radio too. I support both ideas.

Andrew Phillips
General Manager (Interim)
KPFA Pacifica Radio 94.1FM
October 19, 2011


from Henry Norr:

I can share a bit of background on this, not from any inside info, but just from having participated in Occupy Oakland's general assembly on Friday evening, the night before the MoveOn march.

One of the facilitators there introduced a proposal she said was based on negotiations with the organizers of the MoveOn march. Apparently the latter had wanted (and planned, I believe - maybe even had a permit or reservation?) to hold their post-march rally at the amphitheatre in front of City Hall.

Many Occupy folks had expressed unhappiness about that, specifically because they didn't want politicians speaking in what they consider part of "their space." But the negotiators had come up with a compromise plan, which is what they were presenting to the general assembly: the rally would be held in the amphitheatre, but no pols would speak there, just labor and community leaders, and the opening and closing statements would be given by people from Occupy Oakland (not sure how they were to be chosen).

As usual at the occupations, there was a fair bit of procedural farting around (a.k.a. democracy) with the proposal, and some opposition, but to me it seemed clear that it would be approved overwhelmingly. But then an emissary arrived from a meeting that evening of the rally organizers and reported that they had rejected the deal, ostensibly on the grounds that it was too late to uninvite speakers or rejuggle their schedule. (To me this sounded bogus - hard to believe they couldn't just have had the pols speak at Laney, where they were assembling before the march, and I figure the real issue was that they didn't want these uppity kids telling them what to do or disrespecting their pol friends. But that's just my hunch.) Instead, the emissary said they would march past the occupation and hold their rally at the north end of the plaza (which in fact is exactly what they did on Saturday). So the proposal was withdrawn and the GA moved on (so to speak) to the next item.

At least Kurzweil et al. didn't decide to challenge the Occupy group for control of the amphitheatre!


Henry Norr
KPFA LSB member
October 19, 2011


Stan Woods to Jack Kurzweil:

Jack K., Let's assume, as you maintain, that you had no knowledge whatsoever re our IGM being denied permission to give a very brief message of Solidarity at the 11/15 rally in Oakland.

OK. But I notice that you avoided the main questions: Should Andrew Phillips have been denied the right to address the crowd? And do you deny there was any political motivation for that? I'm sure that you have spoken to your MoveOn comrade by now and have heard his rationale for his refusal. What does he say?

I should add: that was an UNHEARD OF refusal. KPFA is correctly considered to be the largest and most Important progressive media outlet in Northern California. I have NEVER even heard of a leader of KPFA being dismissed like that before. You can bet that no one on our side of the factional aisle at Pacifica would have ever rejected the previous IGM, Lem Lem Rijio, if she had ever attempted to speak at a rally where any of us were coordinating the speakers list.

So Jack Please answer.

Stan W.

PS You also wrote that "Stan would argue for my personal responsibility in the killing of Trotsky." No Jack I do not believe that -- You have been carefully investigated and your alibi stands up!

Stan Woods
October 19, 2011


from Carolyn Birden in New York

People I talked with yesterday at Occupy Wall Street -- rank and file occupiers, if you will -- are quite wary of any help from unions as well: I suggested that rather than paying for printing, getting the unions to donate it. However, the answer was that no, they did not want to be beholden to any union, or have material labeled as donated by any organization or corporation or union: probably a good point, if expensive.

Carolyn Birden
WBAI Local Station Board member
October 19, 2011

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