March 01, 2000 09:00am
Second LAPD Raid on Dr. Susan Block's Studios & Galleries
Source: Pursed Lips
by: Dr. Susan Block
Saturday night, February 26th, at about 9-9:30 PM (PT), an unprecedented LAPD SWAT team raid took place against the broadcast studios and art galleries of HBO star, best-selling author, public access icon, Internet broadcaster and sex educator Dr. Susan Block. Heavily armed elite SWAT team officers wearing bulletproof vests and carrying high-powered rifles forcibly entered the building, without warrants, about 45 minutes before the scheduled live broadcast of "The Dr. Susan Block Show" on www.radiosuzy1.com. Helicopter gunships with nightvision technology buzzed overhead. Eyewitnesses said that SWAT Team members with what looked like M16 rifles surrounded the building and cordoned off the area to pedestrians. The operation was coordinated by Metro Vice Squad and Central Divisions of the LAPD, including Watch Commander Valez, Sergeant Sanchez, Central Vice Unit Sergeant Kilgore, Detective Katherine Robi, and Officers Morales, Moreno and Malik.
Film clips from security cameras show LAPD with guns on Max Lobkowicz, executive producer of the show, Kim Mendoza, art curator, and several other staff members. When Dr. Block stepped out of her dressing room she was held at gunpoint by LAPD uniformed officers. She was detained and questioned, separate from her staff, for about twenty minutes, while the producers, camera people and some of the guests were frisked. Then, the staff and guests were permitted back upstairs (some 50 guests crossed police lines to get in), and the show was allowed to go on. But most of the officers stayed, watching, searching and intimidating guests and staff, for some two and a half hours.
What was this all about? LAPD officials don't really know. Here was their story when they arrived. "Four armed Hispanic men who had robbed and kidnapped someone were seen forcing their way into the building by a passerby." The SWAT team was there to search for the gunmen.
They determined that there were no gunmen or hostages in the building within a few minutes. Yet they spent two and a half hours inside Dr. Block's studios and galleries, although official police records state they were here for just 10 minutes. Do we have a Ramparts in every neighborhood?
They interrogated Dr. Block, her staff and guests about the nature of the show, which half of the officers said they watched. Several officers blocked off access to critical Internet broadcast servers and other equipment. Vice specialists searched through film archives; Other officers looked through the studio refrigerator, searched the bathrooms, combed through the books in the library, monitored Chief Engineer Theron Marks' mixing of the live show, and checked out the erotic art in the galleries. Finally, they confiscated a copy of Dr. Block's HBO show "Radio Sex TV" (executive produced by HBO Senior Vice President in charge of Documentary and Late Night Programming Sheila Nevins, and produced by Dave Bell, who, coincidentally, all produces the reality TV series "LAPD").
What caused this bizarre but fully armed police raid on a downtown LA art gallery and broadcast studio? Was it the smell of sex? The erotic art ? The controversial, scantily clad cable host? Her producer/husband's radical past? The Jonathan Taylor Spielberg connection? ? The interracial composition of the staff? The building's proximity to the new all-powerful Staples Center?
This is the second, and far more physically threatening LAPD assault upon "The Dr. Susan Block Show." The first, which took place in January, 1998, also occurred under mysterious circumstances and resulted in no charges being pressed.
Under the direction of Mayor Dick Riordan and Chief Bernard C. Parks, this kind of anti-culture, anti-art, anti-sex police action becomes a major stumbling block for redevelopment and economic growth of downtown Los Angeles, not to mention an assault on our basic freedoms as individuals. We urge the Mayor's Office, the Chief's Office, the LA City Council and its members to investigate this government invasion and attack upon the dignity and freedom of all Angelenos. This city is not just made up of major film companies like Disney, but of emerging studios with diverse visions. We ask our subscribers, viewers, listeners, clients, friends and fans to call the mayor's office at 213.847.2489. We ask our subscribers to send this message on to friends, media contacts, art galleries, political representatives and other appropriate parties.
For demonstration information, call the offices of BlockFilms at 213.749.1330. Ask for Max Lobkowicz or Kim Mendoza. Dr. Susan Block's Journal will carry the full story with photos in about a week. In the meantime, we encourage all artists, journalists and others to help us put a stop to this kind of police intimidation.