A lawsuit has been filed against the International Society of Krishna Consciousness by the City of Los Angeles seeking to limit the group's solicitations of funds in terminals of the Los Angeles airport.
Affidavits submitted in the case charged that the ISKON members, popularly known as Hare Krishnas, had misrepresented themselves as collecting money for other organizations.
They also alleged that some Krishnas had threatened to beat or kill Western Airlines personnel for trying to advise passengers about the true nature of the solicitors.
Ramesvara Swami, a member of the ISKON governing board, charged the airport management with bad faith for allegedly not bringing up these complaints in meetings with Krishna leaders.
According to the ISKON spokesman, "the charge of misrepresentation is completely unfounded because the main purpose our volunteers have is to distribute our literature, and our church is plainly identified on the cover of every publication we distribute. Furthermore, all our members wear identification badges which name our church."
With regard to the charges of threats against airline personnel, he attributed "isolated incidents" to "overenthusiasm of the new volunteers," which he said could have been handled by actions filed against those individuals rather than "against the entire religion."
ISKON and Western Airlines have been involved in a dispute for the past year. ISKON has charged that employes of the airline have torn up sacred scriptures, harassed their representatives, and announced over the terminal's public address system that passengers should not take literature from or give donations to ISKON representatives.
Western Airlines has denied the desecration charge, and said that its public announcements are made to inform the public that solicitations are not connected with the airline.