San Diego Cable Firm to Black Out HBO Film on McDonald’s Massacre

Times Staff Writer

San Diego’s largest cable television company, yielding to pressure from community leaders in San Ysidro, has agreed to black out tonight’s Home Box Office documentary, “Acts of Violence,” which in part examines the July 18, 1984, massacre at a McDonald’s restaurant in San Ysidro.

“Acts of Violence,” scheduled to air at 10 p.m., is part of HBO’s documentary series “America Undercover,” HBO spokesman Tom Tanno said. He said the documentary focuses on the psychological and sociological aspects of three violent crimes in America’s history--including the San Ysidro massacre, in which James Oliver Huberty killed 21 and injured another 15 in a McDonald’s restaurant. Huberty was killed by police sharpshooters.

The program includes news footage of the massacre and interviews with Huberty’s wife, Etna, and her children.

“I don’t think it’s going to do anything but cause people anguish,” said Paul Clark, president of the San Ysidro Chamber of Commerce. “It’s an insult and a slap in the face to the city of San Diego and county of San Diego. . . . Enough is enough.”


Bertha Alicia Gonzalez, publisher of Ahora Now, a San Ysidro community newspaper, said: “The community is up in arms (over the film). . . . A lot of people are still hurting. A year from now we may be able to cope with it--not now.”

“We’re not going to run it primarily out of respect for the people massacred and for their relatives and friends,” said Robert McRann, vice president and general manager for Cox Cable, which provides service to 255,000 customers in San Diego County, including the San Ysidro area.

McRann said Cox received calls from viewers from all areas of its service in San Diego County expressing concern over the program. “We do have the legal right to be able to delete programs,” he said, adding that such deletion is rare. The last time Cox deleted a program was in 1977, he said.

The Cox blackout will not affect viewers in Los Angeles and Orange counties.


Southwestern Cable, the second-largest cable television company in San Diego, with 88,000 customers, said it will run the documentary, but will add advisories calling for viewer discretion.

The other two segments of the one-hour show examine accused serial murderer Henry Lee Lucas, and Arthur Bremer, who in 1972 shot and paralyzed Alabama Gov. George Wallace. The documentary is scheduled to be aired nationwide several times this month.