AFTRA Responds to Violence against Media Workers at May Day Event
LOS ANGELES, (May 8, 2007)—In response to the police action at MacArthur Park on May 1 that injured community members and media workers, the Los Angeles Local of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists today called for a thorough investigation into police misconduct, appropriate punishment of those responsible, and a comprehensive plan to protect the public and media from future violence.
"The attacks on media workers were despicable and unlawful," said Lawrence Mayberry, AFTRA Los Angeles Director of Broadcast. "Some media workers—including an AFTRA member—were seriously injured, and most, if not all, were terrified by the open display of police brutality. The attacks trampled our members' rights to a safe work environment and also had a chilling effect on the general public's right to know and be fully informed about issues and situations facing our community."
The list of concerns was developed after a meeting over the weekend of AFTRA and other media unions, such as NABET-CWA, IATSE, and the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. Mayberry outlined AFTRA's response in a memorandum to AFTRA Los Angeles members who are broadcast journalists and other media workers.
"The bottom line is that AFTRA is defending our members' right to a safe work environment, especially as it relates to encounters with law enforcement, but we are also defending the public's right to know what is going on in our community," said Mayberry.
TEXT OF MEMORANDUM TO ALL AFTRA LA BROADCASTERS
From: Lawrence Mayberry, AFTRA LA Director of Broadcast
Re: May Day Melee and AFTRA LA's Response
As you are no doubt aware by now, there was a major melee at MacArthur Park on May 1, 2007. The melee involved members of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) openly and wantonly attacking media workers (newspersons and camera crews) who were there to do their jobs covering the annual May Day Immigration Reform March and Rally.
The attacks on media workers were despicable and unlawful. Some media workers (including an AFTRA member) were seriously injured, and most, if not all, were terrified by the open display of police brutality. The events in MacArthur Park cast a pall on the entire news media as well as serving up a major black eye to the image of Los Angeles, the so-called "City of Angels."
The police attacks trampled our members' rights to a safe work environment; a work environment free from exposure to violence. The attacks also had a chilling effect on the general public's right to know and be fully informed about issues and situations facing our community.
In the wake of the May Day Melee, AFTRA is working with other media unions such as NABET-CWA, IATSE, and the County Federation of Labor (AFL-CIO) to ensure that such unlawful behavior by the LAPD never happens again. We have also met with the local chapter of the Radio and Television News Association (RTNA) and are working in conjunction with them to call a major stakeholders meeting with the Chief of Police.
As a result of these meetings AFTRA LA has offered the following preliminary list of our concerns:
1. There must be open, transparent and independent investigations of the May Day Incident, with appropriate penalties and punishments meted out.
2. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Police Chief William J. Bratton must make public statements acknowledging that the LAPD attacks on media workers was despicable and unlawful behavior and will not be tolerated in Los Angeles; The recent statements by both the Mayor and the Chief are encouraging, as is the reassignment of certain police officers, but so much more is needed by way of concrete steps to change a culture in the LAPD that permits the May Day melee in the first place.
3. There needs to be rapid development and implementation of a LAPD Media Relations training curriculum. Said training to be regular and ongoing. Media workers and their employer stations to be coordinated with and used as trainers.
4. There needs to be a review of ongoing relations/encounters between media workers and LAPD at local news and crime scenes. Media worker access to these sites is imperative. Any recommendations to improve the actual on the ground scenarios should include Media workers and their unions in the deliberation process.
5. We demand an open meeting with the stakeholders in this matter: the unions, the Mayor, the Chief of Police.
6. We demand more funding for the LAPD Labor Detail.
The bottom line is that AFTRA is defending our members' right to a safe work environment, especially as it relates to encounters with law enforcement, but we are also defending the public's right to know (and be fully informed about) what is going on in our community. The right to know is the essence of participatory democracy and critical to the ongoing democracy project in the United States of America.
If you have any questions or concerns please don't hesitate to contact Lawrence Mayberry.
The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, AFL-CIO, are the people who entertain and inform America. More than 70,000 professional performers, broadcasters, and recording artists are moving forward together through AFTRA to protect and improve their jobs, lives, and communities. AFTRA members embrace change in society—from new culture to new technology—and incorporate change in their work and craft. In 32 Locals across the country, AFTRA members work as actors, journalists, dancers, singers, announcers, hosts, comedians, disc jockeys, and other performers across the media industries including television, radio, cable, sound recordings, music videos, commercials, audio books, non-broadcast industrials, interactive games, the Internet, and other digital media. Visit AFTRA at www.aftra.com.