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Parent Article: Somerville Theater Projectionists Attacked on Picket Line (english)
Where is your accuracy? (english)
24 May 2003
Modified: 15 Jun 2003
I find your depiction of this strike disgraceful, in its innaccuracy and its outright lies. Being a great lover of Davis Square, and hence a person there more than your picketers are, I would like to point out to you folks at this sight a few of the erroneous statemnts made in this following article.

"While the projectionists were picketing outside, films were shown inside by a scab projectionist force lined up by the so-called Boston Independent Film Festival and secretly trained on the Somerville Theater equipment in the days leading up to workers' demand for union recognition."

The following is the most outrageous and outright lie this article put forth. It is almost slanderous in its content. There was no hint of a scab projectionist inside the theater during the festival; There were no scab projectionists existent the entire weekend. There were two projectionists who were hired by the festival long before the entire situation even happened (both of which have worked alongside IATSE in the past and will in the future) and one house projectionist who was never asked to join the strike in the first place. One other projectionist who had signed a representation letter but did not agree to strike did work that weekend as well.
And to be very accurate, many of the men and women who ran the Independant Film Festival are in fact full members of IATSE locals, and were never given any indication that there was any kind of payrate or contract dispute happening at this theater until the very moment they showed up for work that day. The heads of their particular chapters never even once ever told them not to show up for work, or ever told them once to walk out, because no IATSE union was ever notified of this situation before these three part-time and unliscensed "projectionists" decided to make it an issue.
As far as management training scabs days before the strike happened; considering that these strikers only informed the management that they were even talking about unionising, let alone striking, less than twelve hours before picket lines started, training scabs to take their place is not only improbable but does not stand up to any standard of empirical evidence seen on the face of the Earth. The whole idea of striking at the point in time when the strike started was based in taking advantage of the theater's weakness, when this festival was just about to happen. Which means nobody but those who were already committed to the picket the next day knew what was to unfold.
Unless you were to assume that mangement could have found enough of these hypothetical scabs and shown them how to work these complex machines in enough time to be at call in twelve hours, these accusations are ludicrous to the point of being almost the worst kind of science fiction. Working a projection machine is not exactly a lost science, but it would certainly take a little practice before application, before it could be done with any confidence.

"After an hour of peaceful picketing, more than a dozen Somerville and Medford police arrived on the scene, complete with a paddy wagon which they parked in front of the theater entrance. Police proceeded to mount several assaults on the picketline, knocking several picketing workers to the ground, throwing one into oncoming traffic on the adjacent street, and hitting others with clubs. A member of the IWW was taken to hospital coughing up blood after he was attacked and choked by police. For several minutes as films were scheduled to begin, police forcibly prevented any picketing in front of the theater."

I cannot speak too directly for the actions of the police here. I witnessed this from the corner, and all I can say is that it seemed like a fairly even give and take situation from there. Granted, the cops did have clubs, and were much more trained in physical combat than the picketers, but the picketers did definitely look like they were picking fights with men with clubs, which is essentially imbelcilic in its own right, in all fairness. So in essence, both sides seemed pretty ugly. Of course, when the police are ugly its resisting arrest, and when the picketers are ugly its assault, but you'll forgive me if I did not get close enough to this whole mess to see it from the proverbial bird's eye view. There was one kid who seemed to be taking pictures. Don't know who that was, but I thought he was a leader of some kind. I thought I saw him instigating things earlier, and I thought he was a leader of some kind, but then when things started to go south he was just hanging out taking photos for some reason, like this was what he was waiting for. It was almost like he was some kind of cynical ambulance chaser.
But back to the point; I will not defend the police, I will not say they were all straight in this. It's not my call, because I was not there to see it all, so something may have gone on that I did not see. If some kid got hurt in the stupid fraca out front, I hope he's doing well. But I will not say or assume who's fault that is. I've been in too many scrapes of too many kinds myself to just assume who won is who's at fault.
The world needs real news sources not beholden to FOX or CNN or any of the other depressing conglomerates out there, some place to go for a fresh look at things, locally or otherwise. But when you publish without discernment things like this whole situation without looking into the situation even the slightest bit it discredits whatever you will say about other things, because anyone who has looked at this whole Somerville Theater situation will find no relation to the way you have reported it to its own reality.
So all I ask of you is that you try at least a little to inedependently verify what you report here. Because its not the political slant that will kill you; it's the irresponsible verification of it, in the end.