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Justice & Unity Maintains Majority on the WBAI Board

ACE Fails in Effort to Take Over the Board

A Statement from the WBAI Justice & Unity Campaign,
Dec. 2006

In a hard-fought campaign for the WBAI Local Station Board (LSB), Justice and Unity -- the progressive, anti-racist coalition that is on the front line in the fight for socio-economic and political justice for people of color and disenfranchised communities -- retained its majority on the Board.

This strong listener support for the political vision of Justice & Unity came despite the tactics of their political opponents, the newly named ACE (Alliance for Community Elections--the creation of multi-millionaire, marketing-executive and board member Steve Brown--formerly known as List-Prog). 

This group resorted to distortions, breaking campaign rules (Brown and ACE endorsee Alex Steinberg used the endorsements of two current Pacifica programmers on their material), inflammatory smear campaigns, scare tactics about the station's finances, and insulting racist Willie Horton-like stereotypes that are the basis for society's demoralizing views about people of color.

As the majority of Justice and Unity are people of color, these tactics were used in an attempt to purge many of them from the station. In the run-up to the election, members of Justice & Unity were falsely maligned as being violent, riotous, ignorant, thieves, purveyors of the "N" word, thugs, etc. 

One ACE endorsee, Carolyn Birden, described Justice & Unity as a "thuggish cabal."  Steve Brown called for whacking Program Director Bernard White with a baseball bat and described the station as "like being in the South Bronx where rival gang members are shooting at each other and all you can do is keep your head down to keep from getting beaten up, knifed or shot."

Nonetheless, all of the present Justice and Unity Board members who sought another term -- Father Lawrence Lucas, Ray Laforest and Berta Silva -- prevailed and were re-elected. Furthermore, Justice & Unity gained a wonderful addition to the Board -- Nia Bediako, a strong and righteous sister in the struggle for justice who has been the chair of the Board's Programming Committee. In addition, Justice & Unity ally Bob Lederer won re-election as a staff representative.

Our campaign also proudly gained some strong new candidates with a long history of community activism who ran in this election -- Tibby Brooks (Free Mumia Coaltion), Samia Halaby (Palestine Right of Return Coalition), Imani Henry (Transjustice) Marianela Tricoche (Vieques Support Campaign), Sam Spady (NAACP), and Bernadette Ellorin (BAYAN USA). Tibby and Samia are the first two in line to fill any Board vacancies that may occur. Although these comrades were not seated this time, you will surely hear from them in the future.

And in a stunning statement, Father Lawrence Lucas overwhelmingly received the highest number of votes -- 849, far more than the 265 required to win a seat.

However, this election underscores some harsh realities that Justice & Unity supporters must understand. The battle to save WBAI is far from over and will by no means be easy. The ACE slate gained some crucial seats on the Board, making the Justice & Unity majority slimmer than in the previous two years. (However, one important victory was the defeat of Paul DeRienzo -- the
only Board member not to win re-election. He was an ACE endorsee, and supporter of the 2001 station purge, who last year was suspended for repeatedly disrupting Board meetings with torrents of racist, sexist, and anti-semitic attacks.  

Before the election, Justice & Unity and its staff allies had the majority by 14 - 9 with 1 independent. It is now 13 - 11 in favor of Justice & Unity and its staff allies. The new Board will hold its first meeting on Wed., Dec. 27.
Local 1199, 310 West 43rd Street (bet. 8th and 9th Avenues).
The meeting will start at 7:00 pm.


What does the result of this election ultimately mean?

It means that in the upcoming year Justice & Unity will need its supporters now more than ever. Justice & Unity needs people to come to the LSB meetings to participate in LSB committees. We urgently need supporters who have not yet done so to become WBAI members -- which you can do by donating $25 or volunteering for three hours between now and August 31, 2007 (go to www.wbai.org for details).

There will be another election in October-November 2007. These elections are critical and WBAI is a valued commodity in the people's liberation struggle that must be protected. Steve Brown's ACE has the money to finance a well-oiled yet sterile propaganda machine to send out mailings, surveys, and many e-mail blasts to try to influence people's votes. But as reflected in our commitment to the struggle, Justice and Unity believes that votes must be earned. And in fulfilling this credo, we promise to show our appreciation to all of our supporters by working harder, by continuing to bring their issues to the fore at the station and by continuing to stand with them on the frontline in the struggle for justice and unity.

To find out how you can help support Justice and Unity please join our low-traffic email list, visit www.justiceunity.org or give us a call at:(212)591-2111.