KPFT Legal Cases
by Edwin Johnston
Friday, August 24, 2001
I should go even further and state that you all won it for me. I hadn't written anything last night about my remaining criminal charge being dismissed yesterday because I felt that the movement should relish their own moment of victory, which you did. Much of the leadership from coast to coast has chimed in with notes of support and celebration. That leadership speaks on behalf of us all.
Let me take this opportunity to express thanks to one (~) representative in each Pacifica radio signal area for their contributions.
Houston: Sheila Harris. Not only was she assaulted by Molly (O'Brien) Ganter, on March 23, 2001, which led to me being arrested, but she donated a tremendous amount of time, money and tons of true grit to the cause. Sheila is the local key to our victory, and as a young person represents the future of Pacifica.
The Crowd at 150 Wall St. April 28, 2001 © Copyright, Diane Greene Lent, 2001
Los Angeles: Rafael Renteria. He was both a comrade and a true brother through it all. I'd call him the captain of our national defense team. Props also go out to his fellow Angeleno, Bernie Eisenberg, for maintaining the national legal fund.
Bay area: Carol Spooner and Gregory Wonderwheel. Their support all along has been an inspiration to me, keeping the self-persecuting Nazis in my own mind at bay.
Washington, DC: Sam Husseini. His warm support has been like that of an older brother's during a rite of initiation.
New York City: Bob Fass. Though I never met or talked to him, this radio giant read my statement about the incident over the airwaves at WBAI early on. Such an honor!
By singling out these very different people, I hope to relate the valuable work done by literally thousands in regards to this issue that ultimately led to the dismissals. The lesson here is that you will be rewarded for patience, fortitude and righteousness.
Now that you all have had a chance to pat yourselves on the back and drink from the intoxicating well of confidence, I'm sure you want all the dirty details, which I am now free to explain. As most of you know, it all began 5 months ago yesterday, outside KPFT at a backyard concert for the largest donors to the station. Sheila Harris had called an impromptu demonstration for that event. Sheila, her boyfriend, Shannon Smith, Wendy Breunig, Hep Ingham and Mary Beckman, Clay Smith and myself all played a part in holding this protest. Our plan was to encourage donors at the event to stop giving to KPFT and to support the lawsuits against Pacifica instead.
Molly (O'Brien) Ganter, the former KPFT development director and wife of station manager, Garland Ganter, was so incensed at our success that night, in my opinion, that she forcefully snatched several score Pacifica Campaign and Pacifica Listeners Union flyers from Sheila's arms. I was so angry at this assault and the obvious attempts to shut our protest down that I demanded the flyers back, as did the rest of the group.
When Molly refused to return them I attempted to retrieve the stolen property from her in the most nonviolent way possible. This led her to scream "Rape!" and led Garland and other KPFT types to begin assaulting me. Once free from being entangled in the forceful holds and battering blows of people associated with KPFT, I realized that they had called the police which I had a funny feeling meant trouble for our group.
Sure enough when the police arrived, our side of the story counted for very little and within several minutes a member of the gang in blue grabbed my arms and handcuffed me, sending me off to the homicide tank for the evening. While this was occurring, Rick Heysquierdo of KPFT was passing out station premium and promotional items to the other police who were there.
I was charged with two counts of simple assault, a Class C misdemeanor in Municipal Court. These charges are essentially "offenses", like traffic tickets. They didn't have to take me to jail, they could have simply written me an appearance ticket. And the normal bail for this would be around $150, according to my first attorney. My bail was $750.00.
Now, this was all bad enough, and I was dealing with it with my usual aplomb. Then about three weeks later, I find out that there was now a warrant for my arrest from the County Sheriff's department. Molly had met with the police sometime after the original incident and bumped the charge up to assault/bodily injury, a much more serious Class A misdemeanor with potential jail time if convicted. New bail was set at an additional $1,000.00.
This is when I decided to change attorneys, since I had a standing offer to be represented pro bono by an important local firm. I hope you have been reading along patiently, because here now is the dirt.
The other day my attorney provided me his handwritten copy of the prosecutor's file. In it were the statements to police from the various KPFT related people. I refer to this as The Texas BS Report. In her statement, Molly claimed I came onto the parking lot of KPFT, yelled at her and then pushed and hit her. Garland said he witnessed me physically assault his wife. He also stated that he then approached me and then I hit him as well. Three days later Garland recontacted the police and tried to get the charges increased against me. He claimed that although they had originally reported no injuries as a result of the incident, Molly had since complained of bruising, pain and discomfort. The police discussed this amongst themselves and decided to visit with the Ganters to determine if the charges were at the proper level, which they did five days after the incident.
Six days after the incident, the Ganters went to the homicide division office and completed sworn written statements, including copies of photos of alleged bruises, I believe. KPFT employee, Mary Ramirez (recently promoted to program director and ex officio LAB member) also gave a statement that day, as did KPFT volunteer Abel Solis. Mary stated that she saw me on Molly's back an grabbing her. She claimed I was very violent and aggressive.
According to Mary, Molly was struggling to get away from me, but I wouldn't let her go. Mary said she then told Garland to go help his wife and then she went inside to call the police. Abel stated that he saw me shaking and holding Molly very aggressively. He also reiterated that Molly was trying to get away but that I wouldn't let her go. Able went on to state that someone had pulled me off of Molly, but I kept going after her. Then according to Abel, I was cussing up a storm and was up in Garland's face. Then, Abel states, he came up to me and asked me to leave and also claimed that as a result I was about to spit on him. This was enough for the District Attorney to direct the police to dismiss the Class C charge filed by Molly and increase it to a Class A.
Molly gave a very lengthy sworn written statement that day in the homicide division. She stated that since the protests in the summer of 1999 (n.b., when her husband pulled the plug on KPFA in Berkeley), it was the policy of KPFT to have absolutely no confrontation with demonstrators. She stated that we had come onto KPFT property so she politely asked us to leave, which caused me to be confrontational with her and then to yell in her ear.
She continued by saying she started walking away until Sheila offered her a flyer and then took them, denying she did anything hostile. As a result, according to Molly, I went nuts, grabbed her arms and verbally taunted her. She tried to break free, she claimed, but I wouldn't let her go. She panicked and yelled rape. Then, Molly states, I had most of my weight on her back. Eventually, according to her, a volunteer, whom she couldn't identify, grabbed her hand and tried to pull her away. She then got free of my
Then she noticed others were still entangled with me and I was swinging wildly at them and her husband, trying to hit them. She states that later that evening she realized her arms were sore and bruised and that I had left bruises on her upper arms that caused her to feel pain for three or four days after the incident. As a result, Garland had called up a police officer who had previously worked at KPFT events to ask if the proper charges were filed. The officer said, according to Molly, that the charges should be upgraded due to pain and suffering.
Garland Ganter gave a lengthy sworn written statement as well that same day in homicide. He stated that when he arrived our group was performing our little chants, "Garland the loser." and that when he approached, we blocked his way. He then claims we came on the property by the sign-in table an began interrupting his conversations. He told an unidentified protester to leave the property, then went about his other duties.
He was coming back to the front of the building about five minutes later when someone called out to him, "Come quick, Eddie has jumped on Molly." Garland states that he saw that I had his wife kind of in a bear hug from behind. Then a guest took Molly by the hand and try to pull her away. Once Molly had freed herself, according to Garland, I lunged at her. Then he got in front of me to stop me from getting at her and I got right up in his face with my "arms out kind of trying to grab" him, in Garland's words. He ends his statement by claiming that later that evening and over the next couple of days, he saw that Molly had developed bruising where I had been grabbing her and holding her and that she complained of pain in her upper arms. So he had called the police again and was advised that the charges should be upgraded because of injuries.
The descriptions above are solely from the statements of KPFT related people concerning this incident (The Texas BS Report) which have nothing to do with my own opinion or my own personal statements of facts. From this information, and the fact that all criminal charges against me were dismissed, it should be very clear what should happen next in regards to how KPFT is run.
Editor's note: Yes, this should be subject to a lawsuit for false arrest, filling false reports as Per Fagereng asks, and a civil lawsuit too in my humble opinion.