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News :: Alternative Media : Globalization & Capitalism : Police State

Feds Seize Indymedia Servers

Feds Seize Indymedia Servers
By John Leyden
The Register U.K.

Friday 08 October 2004

The FBI yesterday seized a pair of UK servers used by Indymedia , the independent newsgathering collective, after serving a subpoena in the US on Indymedia's hosting firm, Rackspace. Why or how remains unclear.

Rackspace UK complied with a legal order and handed over hard disks without first notifying Indymedia. It's unclear if the raid was executed under extra-territorial provisions of US legislation or the UK's Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA). Provisions of RIPA make it a criminal offence to discuss warrants, so Rackspace would not be able to discuss the action with its customer Indymedia, or with the media.

Rackspace US has issued a statement which says that the investigation "did not arise in the United States", but which sheds very little light on the whys and the wherefores.

In the present matter regarding Indymedia, Rackspace Managed Hosting, a US based company with offices in London, is acting in compliance with a court order pursuant to a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT), which establishes procedures for countries to assist each other in investigations such as international terrorism, kidnapping and money laundering. Rackspace responded to a Commissioner’s subpoena, duly issued under Title 28, United States Code, Section 1782 in an investigation that did not arise in the United States. Rackspace is acting as a good corporate citizen and is cooperating with international law enforcement authorities. The court prohibits Rackspace from commenting further on this matter."

Dai Davis, an IT lawyer at London law firm Nabarro Nathanson, said Rackspace's statement fails to clarify the legal basis of the raid. "If it was a RIPA warrant, Rackspace can't refer to it. Most RIPA warrants can be issued by the Home Secretary," he said. "The FBI has no jurisdiction in the UK and would need to act in concert with UK authorities, such as the security services or police," he added.

Net Effect

The seizure of Indymedia's servers affects more than 30 Indymedia sites worldwide. The list of affected local media collectives includes Uruguay, Andorra, Poland, Nice, several French groups, Euskal Herria (Basque Country), multiple Belgian sites, Serbia, Portugal, the Czech Republic, Italy, Brazil, the UK, part of the Germany site, and the global Indymedia Radio site. One of the servers taken down at Rackspace provided streaming radio to several radio stations and served files related to the Blag Linux distribution, among other purposes.

While Indymedia is not exactly sure what prompted the action, the group does have one strong idea. A French Indymedia site last month posted photos of what it believed to be undercover Swiss police officers photographing protesters at a French event. Indymedia received a request from the FBI to pull those photos down, as they "revealed personal information" about the undercover police, said Indymedia press officer Hep Sano.

Rackspace appeared to confirm that the photos were an issue with the FBI.

"I apologize for the delay in responding. I have been trying to get a hold of the FBI agent I spoke with before, but haven't been able to at this time," wrote a Rackspace official to Indymedia earlier this week, according to Sano. "As the request originated with the Swiss police, I can only speculate on what they saw or what they were concerned about. However, at this time, I have received no further communications from either the FBI or the Swiss authorities, so I feel like we can close this this issue."

Still, Indymedia has never sorted out the matter with the FBI.

"They never clarified what they meant by personal information," she said. "The photos were taken on a public street."

Indymedia believes the photos were eventually pulled, but ironically cannot check on this as it no longer has access to the servers or hard disks. The group has not been notified if the FBI is even involved in this seizure or whether or not the servers or just hard disks were confiscated.

"We are still trying to work with the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) to figure out who is charging us and with what crime," said Sano. The EFF did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Indymedia said yesterday's raids were part of a wider pattern of "attacks" against independent media outlets by the US Federal Government authorities over recent months. Last month the Federal Communications Commission shut down community radio stations around the US.

In addition, an article submitted through Indymedia's Open Newswire service identifying the names of delegates to the Republican Convention and where they were staying in New York reportedly led to an investigation by the FBI. The Secret Service used a subpoena in an "attempt to disrupt" the New York City's Independent Media Centre before last month's Republican National Convention in the city. Speculation (on Slashdot) links yesterday's raids with this investigation. This remains unconfirmed but Rackspace's comment that this is to do with "an investigation that did not arise in the United States" doesn't fit with this theory. Indymedia also believes that the Republican Convention problems have passed and are not an issue in this week's server raids.

Indymedia (AKA Independent Media Center) was set up in 1999 to provide grassroots coverage of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) protests in Seattle. It has continued to report on controversial subjects often under-reported in the mainstream media since then; but this week has marked the most controversial chapter in its operations.

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News :: Alternative Media

We Interrupt This Broadcast to…

We Interrupt This Broadcast to…

FCC stomps on Free Radio Santa Cruz but the pirate radio station vows to return

By Bruce Willey

Most of us have probably kept something illegal in our basement. Everything from a mattress with its tag torn off to an anemic, over-fertilized pot plant—those of us lucky enough to have a basement, anyway—but very few people can say they keep a radio station under the house.

That´s what was in the basement at a house on Laurel Street directly across from the Santa Cruz High´s football field. And the reason a dozen or more federal marshals and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) agents descended on the house to pull the plug on Free Radio Santa Cruz, 101.1 on your FM dial.

Dressed to the nines in riot gear, guns a bristling, the federal marshals had a search warrant and instructions to dismantle the radio station for operating without a FCC license. Like the weather that Wednesday morning just after 9 a.m., it was a dark, cloudy day for the pirate radio station that has been on the air for almost a decade.

Santa Cruz resident Grant Wilson was listening to the station when the bust happened. A recorded interview of Howard Zinn, a champion of alternative media, was being broadcast. And in what some free radio listeners may find ironic, Zinn was talking about the value of artists and poets during wartime. The DJ didn´t get a chance to sign off. Listeners suddenly heard white noise.

For those that live outside the Santa Cruz City limits, Radio Free Santa Cruz is nothing but a bunch of static because the tiny station, or micro radio stations as they´re called, doesn´t have the power to reach beyond a few miles—at best. Yet, like it or not, our radio dial is heavily regulated. The FCC is just as adamant about such things as Janet Jackson´s female anatomy as a pirate radio station that exposes its listeners to a commercial free hodgepodge of underground music, local and national politics and interviews. Last year, “Democracy Now!? host Amy Goodman recorded her show at the pirate radio station and supports the stations with donations.

Seven Gerdemann, one of 22 people that live in the co-op, looked out the window as she was preparing to go to school and saw a man creeping through the driveway. “I didn´t know who he was,? she says, visibly shaken from the event that took place less than an hour ago. “So I asked him if I could help him.?

The federal marshal told Gerdemann that they were securing the area. “At that point I insisted that I wanted to see a warrant,? she says. “But they said they didn´t need to show me one until the area was secure. I told them it didn´t seem right and told them there were no weapons and no one was dangerous. They had their guns drawn. I was late for school.?

Gerdemann says the marshals and agents came in the house and told everyone to leave immediately. After 20 minutes, she says the agents produced the warrant and they asked where the radio station was. Ryn Beeley, who also lives at the house, came home at 9:30 a.m. to find some of her housemates standing outside the house in their pajamas.

Before the bust, Free Radio Santa Cruz broadcast from the house using some of the same technology that fire and brimstone preachers used to get the “good word? to the masses in the South back in the ´40s and ´50s. If you can figure out how to build a radio out of wires, transistors and coil it´s not too much of a challenge to step over to the broadcast side of things. All the information can easily be found on the Internet and most pirate radio stations can be built for a few thousand dollars.

But to do it on the up and up is a totally different story. First you need a license. However, the FCC doesn´t grant licenses to low watt stations, nor will they grant one to station that has already been operating illegally. Knowing this, Free Radio Santa Cruz have never considered applying for a permit, says the station´s host of “The Great Leap Forward,? John Malkin. “Coming up with money for a license is not an issue. We don´t want a license because we don´t share the values of this government that grants licenses.?

They also operate on considerably less radio wave power than legal stations. A commercial radio station owned by Clear Channel Communications, for instance, may transmit at 40,000 to 100,000 watts. Free Radio Santa Cruz, on the other hand, was broadcasting at 40 watts.

Even with the station down, word spread fast of the radio raid. Soon enough, a crowd of more than 60 supporters rallied outside the house with hand painted signs that read “The Free Speech Movement of the ´90s? and “FCC Go Home, Free Speech Now?— the poster paint beginning to dry.

Most of the local print and television media were present as were free radio activists and supporters who recorded the raid on video and tape recorders. Council members Mark Primack, Scott Kennedy and council hopeful Tony Madrigal, whose election sign was in the flowerbed in front of the house, gave statements. Madrigal, borrowed megaphone in hand, chanted Si, se puede (“Yes we can?) and tried to organize a march around one of the marshal´s pick-ups, but when agents brought boxes and turntables onto the porch, the crowd´s attention turned to the matters at hand.

Congressional candidates Joe Williams of the Peace and Freedom Party and Ray Glock-Grueneich of the Green Party also gave statements. This, while federal agents stood stone-faced around the perimeter of the house, and another agent climbed onto the roof and took down the antennae that looked exactly like a 15-foot metal pole.

“I think this is a travesty of justice,? says Williams after putting down the megaphone. “You have a community-supported institution that takes outside intervention from a federal agency to shut down. You have to question the timing, right before the election. It just smacks of political opportunism. You have Clear Channel that went from 30 stations in 1996 to over 1,200 today. If anyone should be raided it´s them who have taken the public airwaves from the people.?

Green Glock-Grueneich added that FCC Chairman Michael Powell (who appears on Free Radio Santa Cruz´s Web site with a superimposed image of the station´s logo on a T-shirt) adheres to a plutocratic doctrine. “It´s very important that we have legislation that decreases the amount of market share that a single corporation is allowed to have of radio and television broadcasting. That would be a start in giving back to the people their ability to use the airwaves for expression of a broad spectrum of political opinion.?

Last Monday, five days after the raid, Congressman Sam Farr weighed in with a letter to the FCC chairman Powell. “While I am fully aware that Free Radio Santa Cruz was not operating with a license from the FCC,? he wrote, “I believe that the time and resources spent on this action could have been better focused on the FCC´s larger mission of ensuring that the nation´s airwaves serve the public interest. I question whether the recent action directed at Free Radio Santa Cruz truly furthered that goal.?

A little over a year ago, the Santa Cruz City Council unanimously voted to support the station, at least in spirit, passing a resolution in praise of the station. Before this bust, the radio station has only had a few scuffles with the FCC who gave them numerous warnings and orders to cease broadcasting. It might be nice, but the City Council can´t proclaim a Santa Cruz a FCC-free zone (yet), for the simple reason that federal law trumps state and city laws. So despite being mayor of the town, all Scott Kennedy could do was watch the airwave carnage and say: “We consider this to be totally inappropriate, and a waste of federal resources, and a further threat to free speech.?

Thus, in an archetypal Santa Cruz moment, hot carrot soup was served in paper cups, the mayor made a statement that most everyone found impossible not to agree with and a garbage truck passing by the raid honked its approval.

All this while agents calmly hauled nearly $5,000 worth of equipment out of the house and loaded it into their truck while the testy crowd yelled angry taunts at the agents, a few of whom looked more like deer than panthers. After laying out the ground rules of engagement, supervising deputy Cheryl Koel, wearing wrap-around sunglasses, gave a statement while an array of microphones were shoved in her face. “Show us your eyes, robot,? someone jeered, at which point she threatened to call the press conference off.

“I´m not here to be badgered,? she began. “I´m here to make a statement and answer questions. If you question me I will leave in the middle of the statement. If you are rude or crude I will leave.?

In her brief statement, Deputy Koal said the deputies were there only to seize property, not arrest people. The agents served three people civil court notices.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney´s Office says the station received four or five warnings. “It´s just something that was finally acted on.? He can´t comment on whether or not there will be criminal charges filed in the future.

Uncle Dennis, host of the music show “From the Cream to the Dregs? and the station´s technical director, says Free Radio Santa Cruz is going to continue to exercise its freedom of speech despite what he calls “a sad day when the public has to endure these Gestapo tactics.?

“We´ll be back on the air,? he says. “We have back-ups for our back-ups.?

The agents eventually left, but not before someone in the crowd took revenge and slashed some of the agent´s tires. One of the vehicles had to be towed away. Almost right away the station was broadcasting on the Internet ( And somewhere, somehow, Radio Free Santa Cruz are planning to fire up the radio waves at another undisclosed location—underground and free as usual. Stay tuned.

To reach the station call 427-3772 or Write Radio Free Santa Cruz, P.O. Box 7507, Santa Cruz, CA 95061.

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News :: Alternative Media

You Got Served ...

You Got Served ...


On Sept. 28, just as Nüz was fantasizing about taking a Wednesday news nap, our hotline went crazy with SOS calls, warning that U.S. MARSHALS and FCC agents were raiding pirate station FREE RADIO SANTA CRUZ. Hotfooting it across town, we found a knot of FRSC DJs and supporters gathered outside the house on Laurel Street which is home to the ZAMI housing co-op--and has hosted the pirate station in its basement since May. This latter arrangement ended at around 8:30am that morning, which is when federal marshals woke Zami residents with shouts of "We have a warrant! Come down!" -- hardly the best way to wake up in the best of weather, but especially not when it's so cold and foggy outside. Anyways, hoping this was all just a bad dream, bedheaded and pajama-clad residents tumbled downstairs, only to be greeted by gun-toting officers, who promptly frisked the lot of them, before toppling the pirate station's antenna. In the process, they ixnayed a Howard Zinn broadcast on the essentialness of art in wartime, which they should have known would fuel speculation that the bust was yet another attempt by an increasingly desperate Bush to muzzle free speech before November's election.

Deeming the bust "a tragedy and a travesty," as officers hauled off an estimated $5,000 worth of equipment in red and white-striped boxes, FRSC's JOHN MALKIN listed reasons for the bust: "We're a threat. We don't have a license. We generally don't share the same values as the U.S. government. We're non-violence based and we present a lot of independent, local and national news critical of U.S. domestic and foreign policy."

ROBERT "SKIDMARK BOB" DURAN called the bust "A sad day for free speech," while VINNE "V-MAN LOMBARDI said that under the FCC's current licensing scheme, "Free Radio Santa Cruz is ineligible for a license even if the collective wanted one, since the FCC excludes anyone who has previously broadcast without a license" (which describes what V-Man and other FRScers did at 807 Laurel St. and three other local sites).

... We Got Campaigned ...

The bust also gave local politicians on the campaign trail a chance to make their positions known, beginning with City Council incumbent MARK PRIMACK, who stated that the council passed a resolution in support of FRSC months ago, after marshals first showed up at 807 Laurel St, (a visit that occurred five days after the station started broadcasting there, at which point marshals were denied entry, because they had no warrant).

"Always the question in Santa Cruz is 'Are we being targeted?' And I don't think we are. Some rockabilly station was also busted recently," said Primack, in what Nüz assumes was a reference to the FCC bust one week earlier of Tennessee's KNOXVILLE FIRST AMENDMENT RADIO.

Meanwhile, City Council challenger TONY MADRIGAL, whose white-and-green campaign sign was strategically stuck in the front yard of 807 Laurel St, popped up carrying a bullhorn to lead the crowd in a "Si Se Puede" chant.

Mayor SCOTT KENNEDY showed up to state that the current City Council "strongly supports Free Radio"; that the raid was a "waste of resources, especially in this climate of war"; and that this "curtailing freedom of speech was inappropriate." He also noted that the raid was entirely an FCC action, and that the SANTA CRUZ POLICE DEPARTMENT had neither cooperated nor was involved in it (although one SCPD officer reportedly responded when nine tires on five agents' cars were slashed, a poorly thought out attempt at payback that the SCPD plans to investigate, according to SCPD chief HOWARD SKERRY).

... They Got Irate

A couple of challengers in the 17th Congressional District race were also at the bust, with the GREEN PARTY'S RAY GLOCK GRUENICH telling Nüz that, if elected, he'd reserve a portion of the spectrum for microbroadcasting and drastically reduce the amount of market share a handful of media corporations can have, while a loudspeaker-clutching JOE WILLIAMS, who is the PEACE AND FREEDOM PARTY's congressional candidate, denounced the marshals as "tools of the FCC," and urged them to "Hurry up and leave, so we can get on with putting the station back on the air!"

It was at about this moment that supervising federal deputy CHERYL KOEL, whose shades and cheekbones suggested Blade Runner meets the Matrix, emerged from the student co-op to make a statement, first warning Glock, Williams and the rest of the crew: "If you're gonna be rude and crude, I won't continue." Nüz imagines they would have been devastated.

Koel then stated that three people had been served with civil court orders, that another individual had "run away," and that these orders advised them their equipment was being seized due to FCC licensing violations--and that they could all protest these orders in court.

Bust Blowback

FCC orders notwithstanding, within 24 hours of the bust, FRSC was up and streaming again via the Internet at -- and planning its return to the airwaves in defiance of federal regulations.

This week, 17th Congressional District incumbent SAM FARR fired off a letter to FCC chair MICHAEL POWELL stating Farr's belief "that the time and resources spent on this action could have been better focused on the FCC's larger mission of ensuring that the nation's airwaves serve the public interest."

Noting that just two months ago, the FCC held a public hearing in his district about, of all things, localism, Farr said, "It's my hope that through this public participation, the FCC will see that localized media, such as low-power radio stations, are an integral part of the national discourse."

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News :: Government & Elections

Heated words at debate

Heated words at debate

Congress hopefuls talk partial births, gay unions

Oct. 05, 2004
Herald Staff Writer

Partial-birth abortions and gay marriages were the hot-button items in a debate Monday night among the five candidates running for the 17th Congressional District seat.

Moderator John Bridges, a land-use attorney, asked members of the Calvary Chapel audience to withhold applause during the debate, but statements by Republican challenger Mark Risley and incumbent Sam Farr, D-Carmel, on partial-birth abortions, caused some to ignore the instruction.

Risley said he was "strongly against it," citing the judge's language in his ruling overturning legislation prohibiting partial-birth abortion.

Farr, who participated in the debate by telephone from Washington, D.C., said Congress "tried to write into law what didn't exist in medicine," terming it a rare procedure that ought to be left up to a patient and her physician.

Libertarian Joel Smolen said he would consider it if necessary to save the mother's life, while Green Party candidate Ray Glock-Grueneich and Peace and Freedom Party candidate Joe Williams said they supported a woman's right to choose whether to bear a child.

On same-sex marriage, Smolen said the Libertarian Party "is the party of choice." Farr and Glock-Grueneich said the concepts of a couple's status under civil law and the marriage sacrament as defined by churches should be kept separate. Williams remarked that if a gay couple wants the burdens of the marriage tax penalty, raising children, inheritance laws and partners making medical decisions, "they can have it."

"I would not raise a voice against two people who make a choice to be together," Risley said, but added, "I believe marriage is between a man and a woman."

Farr came under attack from Williams and Risley for his support of the North American Free Trade Agreement, the World Trade Organization and globalization measures when the question of job outsourcing overseas came up.

NAFTA has been "a disaster," Williams said, and is "driving illegal immigration from Mexico." He called for an end to tax havens for corporations that relocate plants outside the United States.

Political decisions have encouraged American businesses to send their jobs to places that don't have the same workers' rights, pollution standards or salary levels, Risley said. "NAFTA and the WTO make us willing participants in this human rights violation."

Smolen said Libertarians "are for free trade and a level playing field; if it takes tax enhancements, so be it." Glock-Grueneich said the United States ought to vary its tariffs on imports based on working conditions and environmental impacts, and "tax the profits of oppression." And, he said, Americans should boycott Chinese-made imports entirely. "China is a huge slave labor camp."

On the subject of illegal immigration, Risley cited a recent Time magazine article that describes the U.S. border as "dangerously porous" and that economic issues aside, it is a major security issue. "I fear the next 9/11 will be bigger."

Farr said the Bush administration has failed to help the states pay for the costs of porous borders in policing, medical care and social services, and sealing the border is a federal responsibility complicated by the fact that the border "is probably the most busy in the world" in traffic of goods and services.

Smolen questioned why the federal government, in its border policy, "is pandering to special interests" and needs to be held accountable for securing it.

Glock-Grueneich said it is a natural, human reaction to migrate from brutality and abject poverty to the rule of law and wealth, and the way to control immigration is to "work for democracy abroad and address poverty abroad." Williams said the increasingly militarized borders of California and Texas are forcing undocumented immigrants to try and cross the border in deserts, contributing to more deaths from heat and thirst.

On the war in Iraq, Farr, Williams and Glock-Grueneich called for troop withdrawals as soon as possible, with Glock-Grueneich contending that private American contractors should also be removed. Smolen and Risley said America is committed to staying the course, finishing the war and stabilizing Iraq.
Kevin Howe can be reached at 646-4416 or

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News :: Civil & Human Rights : Gender & Sexuality : Gender & Sexuality

Lesbian Activist Murdered

October 4, 2004: Prominent lesbian activist, *Fannyann Eddy* from
Leone, was murdered while working late in the offices of SLLAGA (Sierra
Leone Lesbian and Gay Association) at the end of last week in what many
fear was a homophobic hate crime judging by the brutal nature of the
Fannyann is survived by her 9 year old son and her girlfriend in South
Africa, and will be sorely missed by activists and individuals across
the continent.

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News :: Alternative Media

Tiny Pirate Radio Station Shut Down

Tiny Pirate Radio Station Shut Down,1,1099332.story?coll=la-news-state

Federal officials seize the facility's equipment. Free speech is argued in liberal Santa Cruz.

October 3, 2004
By Irwin Speizer, Special to The Times

SANTA CRUZ — Skidmark Bob leaned back in his chair behind the makeshift radio studio desk as he assessed the impact of last week's raid on pirate station Free Radio Santa Cruz by U.S. marshals and the Federal Communications Commission.

Agents yanked the antenna from the roof and carted off all of the broadcast equipment Wednesday, effectively knocking the station off the air. They departed with a warning that operators of the station faced possible fines of up to $10,000.

"At least they didn't take the pirate flag," Skidmark Bob, as he is known, said Friday.

Behind him hung a large, black-and-white flag adorned with a skull and crossbones, a key symbol of Free Radio Santa Cruz. Surrounding him were shelves filled with alternative music CDs that provided the staple of the station's broadcasts, along with political commentary that tended toward the far left.

By Friday, the station's volunteers and supporters had assembled enough computer and audio equipment to send out programming on the Internet. Skidmark Bob, whose real name is Robert Duran, vowed that the station would be back on the air soon, thanks to backup equipment stashed at another location. The station might relocate to get away from federal officials, he hinted, but he said it had no plans to give up squatters' rights to its radio frequency.

"We decided to take this frequency because we felt the public airways belong to the people," Duran said.

Around Santa Cruz, that sort of power-to-the-people rhetoric strikes a receptive chord. A college town of 55,000, Santa Cruz is a place where liberal political posturing is so pervasive that the City Council once adopted a resolution calling for President Bush's impeachment.

The council has twice adopted resolutions supporting Free Radio Santa Cruz, both times in response to inquiries by the FCC about the pirate station.

"Obviously, pirate radio isn't protected by the Constitution," said Mayor Scott Kennedy. "But we are concerned about the federal government restricting free speech."

The council also is concerned about the war in Iraq, medicinal marijuana and many other issues, all brought up so frequently during meetings that even Councilman Mark Primack, who cosponsored the latest pro-pirate-station resolution, says things can get tiresome.

"Santa Cruz is a little bit of a fantasy town," Primack said. "This is kind of like a resort for liberals."

With 15,000 students, UC Santa Cruz exerts a powerful influence on the city and its politics and has helped create the atmosphere that Primack finds appealing and enigmatic.

"This city wants to be tolerant and open to new ideas. It's my job to make that happen," he said.

The station is run as a sort of commune, with no designated leadership. Participants pay $20 a month to join and many have on-air programs. Skidmark Bob is one of the original members of the station, a one-time wanderer who found his way to Santa Cruz, liked it and stayed, sleeping in his pickup truck at first. He became an advocate for the homeless and a volunteer for an organization called Food Not Bombs that served free meals.

Duran and about a dozen other volunteers and activists got together in the 1990s and raised about $1,000 — enough to buy a 15-watt transmitter and audio equipment to launch a station barely powerful enough to reach more than a few miles. They selected an open radio band and began broadcasting from a friend's carport.

Within a year, two FCC agents had shown up. In its warrant for the latest raid, the U.S. attorney's office in San Francisco documented the FCC's pursuit of the station starting in May 1995.

David Doon, an electronics engineer in the FCC's enforcement division, documented in an affidavit how he used sophisticated tracking equipment to hunt down the location of the pirate station as it moved several times over the years, switched to a different frequency and boosted its power to 50 watts, enough to cover the city with its signal.

FCC regulations require radio transmissions to be licensed as part of the agency's task of regulating the airwaves. Only exceptionally weak transmissions are allowed without a license.

In May, Free Radio Santa Cruz moved again, this time to the old Victorian house that serves as student cooperative housing and looks like a throwback to the Haight-Ashbury of the 1960s. The paint is mostly weathered except for a band of bright blue trim across the second story. A Volkswagen camper van, its top popped, clearly hasn't moved from the driveway for a considerable time.

The station itself is in a 10-foot by 10-foot room with a ceiling so low that 6-footers might feel the need to duck.

Agents tracked down the station again, and this time the U.S. attorney's office in San Francisco filed a complaint for forfeiture Wednesday that allowed agents to shut it down.

After agents hustled station volunteers and house residents outside, volunteers soon began calling each other and supporters, until a crowd of 40 to 50 gathered to watch the dozen federal officials conduct the raid.

Federal marshals complained after the raid that local police had provided no support in the raid, and that tires on five federal cars had been slashed while agents were at the house. Police were investigating the vandalism Friday.

Kennedy described it as a heavy-handed show of force. This was, after all, Santa Cruz, he pointed out, and city officials had no problem with what Free Radio Santa Cruz was doing.

"Marshaling this overt police action at a time of war against a relatively harmless radio station seems like a such a gross distortion of priorities," Kennedy said.

Duran said the station has received considerable support from around Santa Cruz since the raid. "This has really energized us," he said.

On Friday night, the station's webcast was up and running, offering its brand of maverick music and irreverent commentary.

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News :: Alternative Media

Feds detail Free Radio Santa Cruz complaint

Sentinel staff writer

SANTA CRUZ — Free Radio Santa Cruz was warned to stop broadcasting at least four times before its equipment was seized this week, according to a federal court complaint released Friday.

The Department of Justice civil forfeiture complaint filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court, Northern District, led to Wednesday’s raid of Free Radio Santa Cruz by armed U.S. marshals and Federal Communications Commission officials.

Agencies used a high-tech radio wave signal locating device to find the station’s home at 807 Laurel St.

They first discovered it in May, five days after station operators moved, but waited more than four months to shut down the station that has been operating without an FCC license for a decade.

The complaint sought forfeiture of radio station equipment, which radio operators say is valued at $5,000. According to the complaint, the warnings state that because the station was unlicensed, the operators were subject to a criminal fine of $10,000 and/or one year imprisonment, and that the station equipment was subject to seizure.

The complaint alleged that Vincent A. Lombardo and others had been broadcasting radio signals on 101.1 FM from 807 Laurel St. in Santa Cruz without a license from the Federal Communications Commission. On its Web site,, the station proclaims its commercial-free broadcasts are "in defiance of federal regulations."

Also filed was an affidavit in support of the complaint written by David Doon, an FCC electronics engineer in San Francisco.

In the affidavit, Doon asserted that warning letters for operating an unlicensed FM radio station were served when the station broadcast at 89.3 FM, 96.3 FM and 101.1 FM. Those letters were served at 163 Pryce St., 706 Frederick St. and 307 Chestnut St. in Santa Cruz and to various people associated with the station from 1996 to 2000.

Despite the radio station’s frequent moves, agents were able to find it by using radio receivers mounted in a vehicle.

When the vehicle’s equipment detects a radio signal, agents see a visual display of the signal and its relative strength, according to Doon. Agents can travel around the source until they find it.

The Department of Justice has not filed criminal charges against anyone involved in the case, according to Department of Justice spokesman Luke Macaulay. He declined to comment whether charges would be filed.

If the owners file a claim, they have to prove they were not willfully and knowingly operating an unlicensed radio station, said Macaulay.

Friday night, Louis LaFortune, a member of the Free Radio Santa Cruz collective, said "We are broadcasting on the Internet."

The station was off the air for little more than 24 hours, LaFortune said, though they have yet to get back on FM airwaves.

"We plan to broadcast again, to acquire new transmitting equipment and get back on the air," LaFortune said.

"It may be a few days, may be weeks," though not surprisingly he declined to say where they would be located and where they are broadcasting from now.

LaFortune said he did not know if members of the collective had been threatened with criminal charges, but he said warrants served in the past named individuals. This week’s warrant named only equipment.

Contact Gwen Mickelson at

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News :: Alternative Media

Feds say Santa Cruz cops offered no help during raid of pirate radio station

Feds say Santa Cruz cops offered no help during raid of pirate radio station

October 1, 2004
Sentinel staff writer

Free Radio Santa Cruz pirate station is back to streaming via the Internet as federal officers complained that Santa Cruz police failed to help them seize the station’s equipment during Wednesday’s raid.

About a dozen armed federal marshals and Federal Communications Commission agents served three civil orders and seized the station’s equipment at its Laurel Street headquarters in a tense, morning rush-hour operation marked by a burgeoning and agitated crowd.

The station has operated for nearly 10 years without a license. Its Web site states it defies federal regulators, who have "proved themselves to be controlled by monied interests."

Programmer Vincent "Vinnie" Lombardo said Thursday that volunteer radio operators would continue to broadcast online at and would plan a return to the airwaves at a meeting Thursday night.

And in San Jose on Thursday, federal agents said they had requested help from Santa Cruz police before the court-ordered seizure, but didn’t get it.

"We always like to have uniformed officers present, as a backup," said Zareen Iqbal, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Marshals Service. She declined comment when asked how agents felt about the lack of assistance.

Santa Cruz Police Chief Howard Skerry said he was unaware of a request, though he knew the agents were in town after a lieutenant heard about it at a meeting on a different subject. He said police evaluate such requests on a case-by-case basis, and that it seemed they had enough agents, who were clearly identified as law enforcement officers.

"We have limitations on what we can afford, and they appeared to have adequate support and were not planning to make any arrests, but strictly take some property," he said.

"If there is a particular safety issue, we will participate, and if there were some physical confrontation we would certainly assist them," he said. "We kept an eye on it."

An officer did respond when nine tires on five of the agents’ cars were slashed, he said. Officers will investigate, Skerry said.

He said Santa Cruz police in the early 1980s chose not to participate with arrests the Immigration and Naturalization Service was making during immigration sweeps, but said Wednesday’s lack of presence by police was simply a resource-allocation decision.

Iqbal said federal agents typically get help from local police when they request it. She did not know when the request was made, or to whom.

"All I know is they didn’t help," she said.

Contact Cathy Redfern at

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