IATSE Local 80 closed its offices Friday after receiving a threatening letter that purported to be from an out-of-work grip.
The letter, which was postmarked on Wednesday, appeared to be related to the ongoing WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes, said Dejon Ellis, Jr., the business manager of the union.
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“He said some very scary things,” Ellis said. “He’s just mad. He says he’s out of work and homeless. He’s distraught. I don’t know if it’s a cry for help or not knowing how to control his anger.”
Ellis said the threat was mostly aimed at Local 80, which represents grips and other below-the-line workers, but also made reference to the guild strikes in general.
The threat was first reported by Puck. Local 80 closed its offices, sent everyone home and notified other union locals.
The main West Coast office of IATSE also closed; some IATSE events scheduled for the weekend were canceled.
The Burbank Police Department was also notified and detectives were investigating.
“The threat was made against IATSE Local 80,” a police spokesman told Puck. “Burbank P.D. is aware and detectives are investigating the credibility and validity of the threat. No arrests have been made. IATSE, in an abundance of caution, have closed their offices today. No additional information is being released at this time.”
The strikes have caused most production to shutter in Los Angeles for the last three and a half months. The shutdown has taken a significant toll on below-the-line workers and businesses that rely on the entertainment industry. The Entertainment Community Fund has distributed more than $4.7 million to workers who have been left unemployed since May 2.
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