Preston H Litz, Jr

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A few nice Live News images I found:

Preston H Litz, Jr
, Preston H Litz, Jr
Image by angus mcdiarmid
“CASH REGISTER ROBBED” – New Castle News, October 2, 1948.

“Cash register at the William Watters Service station, 29 North Jefferson street, was robbed of early this morning. A suspect is being questioned by police today.”

Preston H Litz, Jr, was that suspect — this is the mugshot that was taken at the station, right after he’d told the cops that he didn’t do it and the cops had booked him anyway.

There had been no dramatic stick-up and no great detective work; the service station attendant, having found the cash register empty when he returned to the office after dealing with a customer, simply told the police he remembered seeing Preston right before the robbery, and the police went and arrested him.

Maybe it had been an opportunistic crime, with Preston walking in to buy some cigarettes and finding himself alone with the irresistible cash register. Or maybe Preston had been loitering outside for a while, waiting for the attendant to go fill someone’s tank before he made his move.

Preston claimed neither of those scenarios was true. If he’d been seen hanging around outside the service station, that was hardly surprising, because he lived in an apartment right upstairs and he must have passed by the office many times a day. Furthermore, the bus depot was right next door, and wasn’t it more likely that the guilty party was a transient waiting for a bus out of town rather than someone who lived right there? Preston was 19, with an honourable discharge from the army and no prior convictions. Was he the kind of guy who’d rob a gas station?

What to believe?

In the end, the evidence was found to be too circumstantial, and the case never came to court. However, a few weeks after the robbery, on October 22, a rather tantalising snippet appeared in the paper. Under the headline “TAKEN TO HOSPITAL”, appeared a single sentence:

“Police early this morning took from the Watters gas station to the Jameson Memorial hospital Preston Litz, Jr., of Lebanon, Pa., R.D.1, who was taken ill.”

Presumably he was taken from his apartment above the gas station rather than the gas station itself, but why would it be the police who took him to hospital? Were they there with him, perhaps, for some reason, when he was taken ill? And what was this sudden illness?

There are no clues — the lists of those admitted and discharged from the hospital, which were published daily in the paper, don’t include his name.

Whatever happened, it ended up with Preston returning to his home town of Lebanon, in eastern Pennsylvania, and never showing his face in New Castle again.

Over the subsequent decades, Preston’s exploits were reported in the Lebanon Daily News. In 1950, he got a job as a presser in a laundry and married a local waitress named Ruth, who he’d been in high school with. Two years later, she took him to court for desertion and non-support, and he was ordered to pay her and the kid every two weeks.

In the 1960s, Preston got himself elected part-time “dog law enforcement officer” for Lebanon and the surrounding townships. We can get a flavour of Preston’s approach to dog catching from a letter that was sent to the local paper in 1967 by an outraged citizen whose pet was "cruelly and inhumanely tortured, shot, and then thrown away" by Preston and "another big, brave resident of West Lebanon":

"We live in North Lebanon Township and on Friday, June 2, our dog slipped his collar and ran into West Lebanon Township. [Preston’s] friend trapped our dog and then these two big men took this little 30-pound dog and tied his legs, mouth, and neck, dragged him down the alley and then Litz shot the dog through the head. All of this was done during Litz’s half hour lunch period from his other place of employment. He uses the city dog truck for all his own personal needs. He then threw our dead dog in his truck, drove up to our home, told my husband that our dog bit him, but refused to tell him where our dog was. Later that day he threw our dog away, uncovered, and in the hot sun at the Lebanon City disposal plant, which I am sure, was against our health laws.

When the Humane Society investigated, he told them that his hand was horribly bitten and all stitched. A local doctor and hospital will give statements to the fact that this is untrue. He had it washed and ointment put on the scratch and, as the witness to this killing stated, most dogs would have bitten his hands off."

This wasn’t the only complaint about Preston during his dog catcher days, but none appears to have been upheld and he was never fired.

In 1975, more than a quarter of a century after the young Preston had beaten the cash register robbery charge, he was arrested again, this time for stealing not from the place where he lived, but from the place where he worked.

More than 4,000 feet of steel tubing, worth ,400, had gone missing from the Cleaver-Brooks boiler plant, and a month-long investigation pointed to only one suspect: long-time employee Preston Litz. However, just as in 1947, the evidence wouldn’t hold up and, for the second time in his life, he left court a free man.

It wasn’t easy to make a charge stick on Preston — the only person to get any satisfaction out of him in court was his first wife, and that only concerned the sum of a fortnight. The message might have finally got through to people, because, for the remaining couple of decades of his life, nobody charged him with anything.

Preston died in October, 1997, at the age of 68.

FC/MC Media Center G20 Hamburg
, Preston H Litz, Jr
Image by Rasande Tyskar
reinventing media – fc/mc the alternative G20 protest media experiment.

FC/MC– International Media Center
++ Conclusions of the FC MC ++
++ FC MC will contribute to the evaluation of the events ++

A week after the end of the G20 summit in Hamburg, the International Media Center FC/MC draws its conclusions. The volunteer crew of the FC/MC self-organized a platform for over 1000 accreditated media workers, non-commercially and professionally. Workers were almost equally spread between freelancers, employees and media activists. The journalists came out of two dozen countries from South Africa to Russia. All types of media were present: print, online, television and radio. “At this G20 summit in Hamburg, we have experienced something that will keep us occupied for a long time. Our goal was to contribute to a differentiated perception of the G20 summit and the protests. This work wasn’t something that we simply wanted to do – it was political necessity”, says Maren Grimm from the organizing team of the independent, international Media Center FC/MC, that for six days reported critically about the G20 from the FC St. Pauli stadium.

Conclusions of the FC MC
The FC/MC offered space to work, produced a live stream with reports from the streets, daily press conferences, facilitated interviews with representatives of social movements and NGOs, and integrated local and international media workers into the production process: Anybody who wanted to, could edit the materials there or work with the editorial team. New cooperations and a
productive, temporary community developed, which resulted in diverse content, in many formats – from documentaries to satire to video essays.
Multilingual twitter accounts of the FC/MC showed (and still show) not only the diverse produced materials, but also delivered timely reports of the
protests with checked and verified facts. The video ticker continously showed the current situation. Oliver Leistert from the organizing team said: “Our starting point and slogan was simply an monumental endavour: Re-invent critical journalism in times of affective populism. This still continues to be our task. The FC/MC has at least given an impetus, it has offered a proposal and
has shown that the way out of the journalistic crisis needs to be taken by the media workers themselves.” The FC/MC looked critically at the ‘battle for the pictures in a fight about who has the power to interprete the events’: “The FC/ MC editorial teams repeatedly discussed whether also to focus on the images that other channels such as n-tv and NDR streamed for hours. We decided against the ‘riot porn’, against focusing on the display of violence.” Without a broad support it would have been impossible to set up the FC/MC in such a short time from scratch – Solidarity came in the form of work time, materials and donations. We want to thank everybody who helped us: the members of the Chaos Computer Club and everyone from radical tech collectives who
kept network, servers and streams up and running; the many local companies that lent equipment and brought their expertise; the security crews who were available around the clock; the Mecklenbörgern who fed us, as well as the coffee collectives Aroma Zapatista and El Rojito; and the numerous people who gave the FC/MC their power and their sweat. Last but not least: ‘You’ll never walk alone’ is real. About our cooperation with the FC St. Pauli we can only say one thing: “St. Pauli is the only option!”

And now?
The work of the FC/MC did not finished with the summit. There is still a lot of material that needs to be anaylised, processed and presented to the public. Also the editorial work continues: “It is now important to analyse the so-called ‘display of modern police work’ in the broader context of the events. We also set up the FC/MC because it was already obvious before the summit, that it would be used to move the discourse about security to set new standards for police operations in Germany. It now needs to be assessed in detail how far this procedure created the desired reality. The violations of fundamental rights,
and the breaches of the law, by the Police, must have consequences. We want to contribute to this with the material available at the FC/MC,” said Maren Grimm at the closing press conference of the FC/MC on 9 July. Our future work aims at documenting events, as well as rejecting the hegemonic discourse and its diffusion through the mass media, countering it with an insistence on the essential legitimacy of protest, it’s urgency and its foundational importance. Beside the diverse protests and the violent clashes, there was police violence, attacks against lawyers, disregard for the freedom of the press and the freedom of assembly, and last but not least massive restrictions on the daily lives of people living in Hamburg. The G20 summit in Hamburg, its side effects, the political decisions and the police operation needs to be investigated and resolved.

Press contact: [email protected]
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Twitter: @fcmc_tv, @fcmc_info, @fcmc_n