Anti-Muslim film screening: L.A. gadfly tried to warn city leaders
When the anti-Muslim movie that sparked protests across the world first played in Hollywood in June, few took notice.
But one person did try to raise an alarm about the film, then called "The Innocence of Bin Laden."
Longtime City Hall gadfly John Walsh spoke to the Los Angeles City Council on June 29, and urged them to take seriously the threat it presented.
"There's an alarming event occurring in Hollywood on Sunday," he told council members of a planned June 30 screening, that apparently did not take place. "A group has rented the Vine Street Theater to show a video entitled 'The Innocence of Bin Laden.' "
The movie was screened before a very small audience on June 23 at the theater, but it was unclear whether the second screening happened. Some involved with the movie said they were disappointed with the low turnout at the first screening.
In his comments, Walsh appears to be concerned the film was anti-Semitic, not that it would be so offensive to Muslims that it would spark days of angry riots.
He urged the council members to go, but then added bitterly they probably would not want to attend, because it was likely such an event would attract little media attention for them.
Walsh also notified numerous members of the media, including the Los Angeles Times.
"Nobody from L.A. will admit they had the slightest knowledge of this terrorist film. Nobody," Walsh said Thursday. "I cried wolf and there was a wolf."
In his email to the Times, he noted the posters for the movie appeared to be in Arabic and listed an Atlanta phone number.
That number is a recording, which prompts people to pay $3.99 a minute for the call. A recording asks people to leave "any feedback you have regarding our movie, the 'Innocence of Muslims.' " The recording notes the message can be left in any language.
-- Jessica Garrison and Sam Quinones
Photo: A 14-minute trailer for "Innocence of Muslims" was posted on YouTube. The movie has been blamed for inciting mobs in Egypt and Libya. Credit: YouTube