7 Days 

Antiwar activists not permitted; Hey, why steal just one?; Emeryville caves, disabled roll on; And the liberators strike again.

Dances with cops: The word went out two weeks ago on the Web site of San Francisco's Independent Media Center: "Been arrested lately or know someone who was? Want to help support our local indymedia? Need to relieve some tension after dodging rubber bullets? Come out and dance at Jailbreak!"

Thus did organizers with the antiwar dance collective Subversive Soundz begin their announcement for an Oakland benefit party to finance Legal Support to Stop the War, a coalition of lawyers defending activists arrested and shot at during the recent demo outside the Port of Oakland. Apparently, activists weren't the only ones perusing the Indymedia site. Just days before the event was scheduled to take place, Oakland Police Lieutenant David Kozicki sent Subversive Soundz a friendly little note, warning that if the rabble-rousers tried to throw their little party, the cops would haul them off to the pokey. "You do not have the require[d] permits to hold this event," Kozicki wrote. "Unpermitted events can result in arrest, citation, fines, and civil action against both the venue and promoter."

Just in case the organizers didn't get the message, Lt. David Lawrence followed up with a second warning that the event, due to take place at North Oakland's Humanist Hall, was never gonna happen. "OPD will be at the hall early and will prevent you from conducting any event on April 18," he wrote.

Sure enough, an Oakland cop rolled up to the hall Friday afternoon and parked his ass on the curb for the next few hours, waiting to bust any techno-demo freaks who started boogyin'. Event organizers concede that they didn't exactly have a permit for the event, but the Humanist Hall has hosted plenty of dance parties before without this kind of attention. Could this be payback for the heat the cops took after firing into a crowd of activists three weeks ago, even prompting an Oakland Tribune columnist to call for the head of Chief Richard Word? "It's suspicious that we are giving a benefit for the folks doing legal support for the protesters, including the people that the police fired upon at the port," says "M. Kat," a Subversive Soundz organizer.

And let's not forget that Mayor Jerry Brown just moved into new digs a block away from the venue, and we mustn't disturb Hizzoner's beauty sleep. But Lt. Lawrence insists the cops are only concerned with the permitting issue, and that politics has nothing to do with it. In fact, he says, the political angle is probably just an excuse for people to get loaded and dance. "That's a nice little hook, isn't it, to draw people into a party?" he says.

Organizers quickly moved the benefit to an undisclosed location -- outside of Oakland. -- Chris Thompson

Steal this story, the sequel: Two weeks ago, 7 Days stumbled across a blatant theft of an Express cover story about a would-be rap star who claimed to have been framed by an Oakland cop now on the lam ("Steal This Story," April 9). The plagiarized version ran in the Tri-State Defender, a black-owned newspaper in Memphis, Tennessee, under the byline of Larry Reeves. The Defender story was the same as ours, only shorter, and it replaced each instance of the word "Oakland" with "Nashville," thereby fabricating a police scandal in the home of the Grand Ol' Opry.

Picking up where we left off, a columnist at the Memphis Flyer, an alternative weekly, went looking for other instances of story theft in the Defender. It didn't take too long for him to uncover other rip-offs lifted from alt-weeklies around the country over the past few years. The reporter, John Branston, found articles pilfered from the Cleveland Scene and New Times Los Angeles, as well as the Village Voice and other weeklies. All of the stolen stories appeared under the Larry Reeves byline. The funny thing was that neither the Flyer nor the Defender could locate the writer. "Reeves is something of a mystery, and it is by no means certain that he actually exists," Branston wrote. "Although Reeves' byline appeared on over 140 stories between 1995 and 2002, no one at the newspaper can recall meeting him in person or knows where he is today."

The Flyer quoted Tom Picou, president of the Defender's parent company, as saying: "He's a white guy, probably about eighty years old now. I have not talked to him since 1996." Picou also told the Flyer that Reeves did his stories for free and submitted them electronically. Apparently, it never struck him as unusual that an eighty-year-old white guy would file story upon story on the black man's struggles against the white establishment. Then again, Picou admitted he only assumed the man was white by his telephone voice.

Among the purloined articles the Flyer described in detail was a January 2002 story that originally ran in the Seattle Weekly about a fourteen-year-old girl accused of murder. The Defender ran the story two weeks later under Reeves' byline with this editor's note at the beginning of the article: "The following is a true story. It took place somewhere in the Mid-South, but its true location is being withheld because of the uniqueness of the case. The names of the characters have also been changed so as not to influence the case's outcome."

How convenient.

"The only thing I can do is call these people and apologize," Picou told columnist Branston.

We'll be waiting by the phone. -- Will Harper

Protest can work: Lest anyone think petitioning your government for grievances these days is as ineffective as a focus group, local disabled-rights activists staged a small but significant protest last week and in return scored a small but significant victory. They had announced a march on Emeryville City Hall to protest the city's position on a US Supreme Court case that could free Sacramento from repairing its sidewalks in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act ("Do as we do, not as we say," 7 Days, April 16). Last Tuesday, the Emeryville city council -- which had voted months before to file a friend-of-the-court brief on Sacramento's behalf -- did an about-face.

No sting grenades or cops shooting wooden dowels in E-ville. Instead, Mayor Ken Bukowski came outside and spoke with the fifteen to twenty demonstrators to announce that the city would revoke its support for Sacramento, a decision he said had been reached earlier that day in a closed council session.

Emeryville had previously settled a similar case brought by an organization called Disability Rights Advocates, and after rethinking the issue, Bukowski says, the councilmembers felt it didn't make sense to support Sacramento's case.

Blane Beckwith, an organizer for ADAPT, one of the groups staging the demonstration, says he was taken by surprise -- in this case, a pleasant one. Next, the activists plan to pressure other Bay Area cities, including Albany and Alameda, which have also filed amicus briefs in the case. "We are starting to whittle away Sacramento's support one city at a time," Beckwith says, noting that many California cities that originally backed Sacto have already changed their minds. "I think we're gaining some momentum." -- Helene Blatter

CNN never mentions the billboard liberators: Spotted at the corner of Shattuck Avenue and Ward Street in Berkeley was the latest altered billboard in an ongoing campaign against the powers that be. The billboard displays an ecstatic woman's face, covered with what we can only hope is snow. The grabber-line "Taste it again for the first time -- Sugar Bowl" once graced the board next to her. Now, someone has replaced the name of the ski resort with the word "impeachment." Readers will be relieved to note this tasteful improvement over the previous alteration, in which someone had changed the same billboard to read: "Taste it again for the first time -- cat spunk." -- Chris Thompson

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