Summer Reese, along with her mother and supporters, has been occupying the Pacifica Foundation’s offices in Berkeley, CA for almost ten days. Recall that Reese was abruptly fired from her position as Executive Director by the Pacifica National Board two weeks ago, without any public statements justifying the action. She and many others contest the validity of the National Board’s action.
Oakland TV station KTVU broadcast a report live from the Pacifica offices this morning. Reporter Patti Lee shows how the office door is now barricaded from the inside, with Reese supporters standing guard. Inside there are air mattresses to accommodate Reese, her mother and others who are taking turns occupying the building 24 hours a day. Reese told KTVU that she has not moved in, but that she and her fellow occupiers are sleeping in shifts.
There had been reports of mass document shredding happening there, though Reese told SF Weekly that the reason shredder truck was called is because staff are still working and the office’s shredder had broken. “We have paper piled up on both sides of the copy machine,” she said.
Pacifica board chair Margy Wilkinson told the San Jose Mercury News that a successor to Reese has been chosen and will be announced. She also said that the board is considering legal action to remove Reese from the Pacifica offices.
Since I first reported on Reese’s firing last week there have been several articles of note about Pacifica published:
- LA Weekly writer Hillel Aron’s feature story “Left-Wing Darling Pacifica Radio Is Sliding Into the Abyss” does a nice job at putting the network’s current struggle in historical perspective.
- Writing at Reason’s Hit & Run Blog, author and historian Jesse Walker shares some useful background about the network. He notes that especially before the McCarthy era, Pacifica was “more individualist and anti-statist left” than current listeners might realize. While giving a platform to leftists and progressives of many stripes, Pacifica also invited voices from the right, like William Buckley and Caspar Weinberger, often for on-air debates.
- Writing for Counterpunch, independent journalist and KPFA reporter Ann Garrison reflects on the importance of Pacifica’s reporting in comparison to NPR’s, which she says “is far more right wing than the Voice of America[.]” After considering the claims and counter-claims at issue in the current stand-off, she sounds a note of cautious optimism, offering that the current crisis might be a step towards establishing real HR policies for hiring, terminating and laying off paid staff.
- Finally, those looking for even a little more perspective on how Pacifica came to be so gridlocked might check out “WBAI’s Death by Democracy,” by Tess Stuart, which appeared in the Village Voice last September.
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