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Alexander Cockburn speaks out against ACT-UP terrorism charges
by kaye
Friday Jan 25th, 2002 12:09 PM
In the anti-terrorism insanity of the US government following 911 many activists have been hit with extravagantly inflated charges and bails. David Pasquarelli and Michael Petrellis have been in jail in San Francisco since November on half million dollar each. Other activists, who will surely be next in line, have lagged in rallying support. All those years of expensive pharmaceutical company advertising have made the religion of AIDS/HIV an untouchable topic. Must we commit political suicide--or will people wake up and realize what is going on?
http://www.counterpunch.org/petrelis.html

"Are you there or do you have a syphilitic penis in your mouth performing
oral sex?"

This Is "Terrorism"?

The Prosecution of Petrelis and Pasquarelli
By Alexander Cockburn

Throwing the book at people is nothing new, but in our post 9/11 world the
screws are tightening. Take San Francisco, whose District Attorney is Terence
"Kayo" Hallinan, regarded by many with some justification as a progressive
fellow. Indeed in his 2000 reelection bid Hallinan survived years of abuse in
the San Francisco Chronicle for supposedly being altogether too slack a
prosecutor, with poor conviction rates and kindred offenses betokening
softness on crime.

Yet this is the same District Attorney Hallinan who's hit two gay men who are
AIDS activists with an escalating barrage of charges, currently amounting to
36 alleged felonies and misdemeanors, all adding up to what he has
stigmatized in the local press as "terrorism". Terrorism's a trigger word
these days, as Sara Jane Olson, aka Kathy Soliah, recently discovered when a
judge put her away for twenty years to life for acts back in the 1970s.

Held in San Francisco county jail since November 28 of last year are Michael
Petrelis and David Pasquarelli. Neither man has been able to make bail, which
Hallinan successfully requested to be set at $500,000 for Petrelis and
$600,000 for Pasquarelli.

Why this astonishing bail? What it boils down to is that the two accused are
dissidents notorious for raising all kinds of inconvenient, sometimes obscene
hell about AIDS issues. They've long been detested by San Francisco's AIDS
establishment, which Petrelis in particular has savaged as being disfigured
by overpaid executives, ineffective HIV prevention campaigns and all-round
complacency and sloth.

They've taken kooky positions. Pasquarelli, for example, believes that HIV
doesn't cause AIDS. Petrelis hasn't scrupled to form alliances with
right-wingers in Congress when it suits his tactical book. Being attacked by
them can be an unpleasant experience. Who wants to get phoned in the middle
of the night and, as one recipient alleges, be asked, "Are you there or do
you have a syphilitic penis in your mouth performing oral sex."

The two were thrown in jail because of an escalating campaign they launched
late last year amidst calls for an expansion of quarantining laws across the
country, prompted by fears of bio-terrorism. Petrelis and Pasquarelli took
after a San Francisco public health official, Jeffrey Klausner, for seeming
to have endorsed the quarantining of people with AIDS. They also applied
increasing pressure on the media, notably the San Francisco Chronicle, for
relaying what the two claimed were inflated statistics about spikes in the
rates of syphilis and HIV in San Francisco. The higher the stats, the more
dollars flow to various AIDS bureaucracies.

The Chronicle claimed tremulously that not only had its reporters been
showered with filthy nocturnal calls to their homes but that there had been a
bomb threat against the paper.

What does this amount to? After all, if convicted on these charges Petrelis
and Pasquarelli could face years in prison.

On the basis of what has surfaced so far, the charges and the bail are way
out of kilter with the apparent facts of the case. As a gay activist puts it,
"I do think the culprits in this sordid affair are the awful people who went
to the police after what seemed to me to be silly phone calls that obviously
were not threatening. That department of public health guy should be fired
from his job and sent packing for going to the police. These people rip gays
and lesbians off, get well paid for it, then when someone tries to make them
accountable they go running to the cops to do even more dirty work. It's
embarrassing to be a part of a community that forgets its activist past and
falls so quickly in league with the
Bush/Ashcroft-send-everyone-to-jail-that-we
don't-like-in-the-name-of-fighting-terrorism crowd."

The charges against Petrelis and Pasquarelli defy logical explanation unless
we acknowledge the venom and loathing the pair inspire in the respectable
element in San Francisco and among some well known political organizers.

Take Kate Sorensen, an AIDS activist who herself was held on $1 million bail
for leading demonstrations outside the Republican National Convention in
Philadelphia two summers ago. The DA in that city took her to trial on three
felonies, though she ended up convicted of a misdemeanor. Such experiences
have not evoked any solidarity in Sorensen for the imprisoned San Francisco
pair. Wrote Sorensen recently, "I will fight for our right to demonstrate. I
will fight for our right to free speech. I will fight this police state, but
I will not fight for you."

Sorensen's self-righteous stance was elicited by an open letter of concern
addressing the prosecution of Petrelis and Pasquarelli. Organized by the
radical gay civil libertarian Bill Dobbs of Queer Watch, the open letter (go
to the site http://www.openletteronline.com and look under politics, then
petrelis/pasquarelli) has been signed by hundreds including many well known
gay figures such as Harvey Fierstein, Scott Tucker, Barbara Smith and Judy
Greenspan. The letter questions the motivation for the charges and makes the
scarcely extremist demand that the two get fair legal treatment and
reasonable bail, a point emphasised eloquently by Chris Farrell in a public
response to Sorensen.

"I am shocked," Farrell wrote to Sorensen, "that you don't support free
speech or the right to demonstrate-but only 'our' right to free speech and
'our' right to demonstrate. Apparently Petrelis and Pasquarelli are part of a
'them' who don't deserve these rights. I don't think you can claim to fight
'this police state' when you are willing to ignore prosecutions designed to
chill dissent so long as the targets are people you don't approve of. It may
be convenient to have the cops lock up your opponents, but it isn't good
politics. Your resistance to the ideology and activities of ACT UP San
Francisco is demeaned if you accept the FBI as an ally. A genuine commitment
to civil liberties requires support for the rights of everyone, and a test of
that commitment comes when it's the rights of people we despise that are at
risk. The letter seeks 'fair legal treatment' and 'reasonable bail' for
Pasquarelli and Petrelis. If you value those principles, despite your anger
over the tactics of ACT UP San Francisco, your endorsement of these very
simple demands could be a powerful act of conscience." Sorensen never
responded.

Moderate though the terms of the Dobbs letter are, it has aroused much
hostility not only from Sorensen but from the San Francisco gay establishment
whose animus against Petrelis and Pasquarelli was what apparently prompted
Hallinan to have the pair charged and arrested in the first place. On
November 15 Martin Delaney of Project Inform, Mike Shriver of the Mayor's
office and fifteen others, published a letter in the Bay Area Reporter urging
people to pressure Hallinan, demanding "full prosecution of Pasquarelli,
Petrelis and their collaborators."

Petrelis and Pasquarelli have a potent posse howling for their heads. "They
fucked with the wrong people," said a health official quoted in the San
Francisco Examiner on January 23. The "wrong people" include a broad swath of
liberals and leftists in and out of government, the AIDS establishment and
media figures, and commentators including Petrelis' erstwhile admirer Andrew
Sullivan and Michelangelo Signorile, who attacked Petrelis and Pasquarelli in
the New York Press in a letter that drew the following admiring note:
"Michelangelo Signorile: I am a sergeant/inspector with the San Francisco
Police Dept. I am the inspector who put together the case involving David
Pasquarelli and Michael Petrelis. I am also a lesbian. I thought your article
was well-written and to the point. I have read your stuff over the years, and
respect your viewpoint. Keep on writing. Lea Militello, San Francisco."

The "wrong people" can get real nasty. On November 13, according to ACT UP
San Francisco (of which Pasquarelli is a leading light) an official complaint
of domestic terrorism was filed with the FBI by UCSF AIDS researcher Stephen
Morin, former aide to Minority Whip Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca). Memos from
Morin acquired by defense lawyers outline a plan to apply the domestic
terrorism clause of the Anti-Terrorism Act to ACT UP SF as early as October
25, 2001, before it was even signed into law.

Then, on November 19, 2001 there was a meeting of officials from UCSF, the
Mayor's AIDS Office and the FBI to discuss ACT UP San Francisco. An ACT UP
press release claims that people attending that November 19 meeting included
"gay gadfly and UCSF media representative Jeff Sheehy and the Mayor's AIDS
Policy Advisor, Michael Shriver, a former member of ACT UP San Francisco.
Shriver was a member of the group in the late eighties and was involved in a
number of controversial protests including shutting down the Golden Gate
Bridge and the storming of San Francisco's Opera House on opening night."

In December the Los Angeles Times reported that the FBI had declined to
intervene. But as Dobbs says, "The bit of good news about the FBI declining
action is far outweighed by the fact that Bureau apparently considered this
outrageous invitation, also by the specter of the Patriot Act hanging over
the heads of activists across the country."

Time was when a decent death threat used to be a badge of honor in the Fourth
Estate. Jimmy Breslin recently recalled to Dobbs his "Son of Sam" days when
violent threats were so routine at the New York Daily News that the paper's
switchboard operator was wont to ask such callers whether they were
registering "general death threats" or "specific death threats for Mr.
Breslin".

Granted, he's a terror survivor of Attack by Lizard in the LA Zoo and granted
that his wife Sharon Stone is the marquee celebrity for one of Petrelis'
targets, the American Foundation for AIDS Research, but Chronicle editor Phil
Bronstein should remember that Daily News phone operator and get his paper
off its prosecutorial high horse.

Hallinan's got a radical past and even radical pretensions. He knows as well
as anyone that conspiracy charges have long been used to smash protest. And
he knows as well as anyone that militant protest is at the cutting edge of
social conscience. It's easy to grandstand about the foul tactics, the
obscenities, the all-round vulgarity of Pasquarelli and Petrelis, but does
this add up to a demand that they get thrown into prison for many years? Of
course it doesn't. Judge Parker Meeks Jr should resist the entreaties of the
Posse and cut the preposterous bail drastically or release them on their own
recognizance. Hallinan should get his sense of perspective back, and drop the
drastic charges
by Kevin
Friday Jan 25th, 2002 9:45 PM
Wooooo Alexander Cockburn woooo!!!! The great white straight man speaks! (with an upper-class English accent!!) Wooo! Validates AUSF's bogus campaign! Wooooo! All follow now....

Let us all follow His words. Hallelujah. The Lord has come. Free the P-twins to see that they bash again! Amen.

(purging sounds)

(relief)
by Kevin
Saturday Jan 26th, 2002 12:01 AM
Sung to "Nazi Punks Fuck Off" by the Dead Kennedys...

Queer ain't no religious cult
Queer means thinking for yourself
You ain't hardcore cause you throw kitty litter
When a Jock still lives inside your head!

AUSF
AUSF
AUSF Fuck Off!!

If you come to fight get out of here
You ain't no better than the skinheads
We ain't trying to be police
When you ape the cops it ain't anarchy!

AUSF
AUSF
AUSF Fuck Off!!

The P-twins jump one, they're great men
Bellefountaine scripts it, the police state wins
But no one cares when you trash our halls
Trash Big Pharma if you got real gall!

You still think violence is worthwhile
The real Nazis are on your speed dial
They're Coburn, Helms, Ashcroft, and Bush
In the real Fourth Reich you'll be the first to go!

AUSF
AUSF
AUSF Fuck Off!!

We'll be the first to go, You'll be the first to know
UNLESS WE THINK!
by SF Voter
Saturday Jan 26th, 2002 1:30 PM
I am glad to hear Alexander Cockburn supports the Bill of Rights and condemns the fascist Democrat-Republican Party of San Francisco and its chief anit-free speech cop, Democrat -Republican Terence Hallinan. Obviously, these two young men are political prisoners as all they did was make nuisance phone calls, a misdemeanor. Apparently, Hallinan learned nothing from history as he has never been a member of the workingclass, unlike his wonderful father, Vincent Hallinan. George Bush's "anti-terrorism" campaign is exactly the same as the old anti-communism campaign, which caused great suffering to the workingclass, especially to labor organizing, which has yet to recover. Not only is this thug Democratic Party hack practicing preventive detention with his unconstituional, excessive high bail, he is clearly trying to railroad Petrelis and Pasquarelli to state prison, all courtesy us taxpayers, so the AIDS charity rackets can continue milking the public dry to enrich themselves, all to the benefit of the Democratic Party in terms of money and votes, which party pretends to care about AIDS and gays, when in fact, the Democratic Party, just like the Republican Party, has contempt for gays and could care less about providing universal health care to all, regardless of ability to pay. It is these same AIDS charity rackets that ran to the US political police, the FBI, to try to bring "terrorism" charges against Petrelis and Pasquarelli.

Hallinan has tacked onto the vicious, unwarranted felony charges Penal Code Section 1192.7(c)(38), originally meant for violent crimes, so that they cannot plead to lesser charges if they wish to do so.

The world now knows that the San Francisco Democratic Party and all its lackeys is a fascist party, ready to do the bidding of that Nazi Republican, George War Bush.

There are lots of San Francisco voters who are outraged about Hallinan's preventive detention and attempt to railroad anyone to prison on behalf of the stinking rotten Democratic Party, or for any other reason, and we will certainly make that clear in the election of 2003, when we send 65-year-old millionaire Democrat-Republican Hallinan to his long overdue, well-deserved retirement.

Terence Hallinan, and his long-time election-frauding thug friend, Willie Brown, are excellent reasons why you should never vote for the Democrat-Republicans. These twin parties of capitalism are anti-workingclass and will always show their true colors the minute they get a chance. Please do not tell me that Hallinan and Brown had any kind of dispute. I have watched Willie Brown's career from beginning to end, and this is the end. I know the whole story. This is the whole stinking Democratic Party machine, demonstrating to the world that they are no different from the stinking rotten Republicans.

For more on the till-tapping, anti-labor rackets known as the AIDS charities, see:
http://www.accountabilityproject.com