FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AIDS Activists Held On One Million Dollars Bail
28 Nov. 2001
AIDS Quarantine Flap Results In Multiple Felony Charges Against Controversial
San Francisco -- Two AIDS activists were arrested today following a hearing
on temporary restraining orders stemming from a series of allegedly harassing
phone calls. Michael Petrelis and ACT UP San Francisco member David
Pasquarelli shouted "Stop AIDS Quarantine" as police placed them under
arrest. Charged with numerous felonies, Pasquarelli and Petrelis are being
held for an exorbitant half million dollars bail each for their involvement
in a national campaign to speak out against federal quarantine of people with
The activists have recently gained notoriety in their efforts to challenge
remarks made by Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, San Francisco Department of Public
Health official and Center for Disease Control's Epidemic Intelligence
Service agent, promoting the use of quarantine to control the spread of AIDS.
In addition, the activists were calling attention to the Model State
Emergency Health Powers Act which would give the federal government
unprecedented power to quarantine people due to infectious disease. The
activists charge the Health Powers Act, being introduced in the California
State Legislature by Keith Richman, (R) Granada Hills, is loosely worded and
can be interpreted to include HIV and AIDS. Numerous groups nationwide have
mobilized to modify this bill to exempt HIV and AIDS. "For the past three
weeks we have been trying to call attention to this pending quarantine act,"
commented jailed activist David Pasquarelli. "Not until national groups got
on board did this extremely important issue register with the local gay press
or gay leadership."
Indeed, activists are quick to point to a recent editorial, appearing in the
November 15th edition of the Bay Area Reporter, from seventeen prominent AIDS
activists which downplayed the charges made by people sounding the alarms
about the Health Powers Act. Yet, a week later the Sunday November 25th
edition of the San Francisco Chronicle ran a front page story regarding the
Health Powers Act and quarantine of HIV positive people, confirming the
Pasquarelli and Petrelis appeared before Judge Ronald Quidachay concerning a
number of restraining orders resulting from a series of calls allegedly from
the pair. The two were nabbed by police as over twenty ACT UP San Francisco
members filed out of the court room. When it became clear the activists were
to be arrested, the marble halls of the courtroom echoed with chants of "Stop
AIDS Quarantine, ACT UP Now!" Pasquarelli and Petrelis are being charged with
a number of felonies and each are being held on $500,000 bail. Activists are
quick to point out the bail is excessive and usually intended for people who
pose a flight risk or a danger to society.
"The SFPD cowardly ambushed David and Michael inside the courthouse,"
commented ACT UP member Todd Swindell. "Both are well known activists.
Neither are flight risks or a threat to the community. They should be
released on their own recognizance, immediately."
ACT UP San Francisco members fear that the recent terrorist attacks will
foster an atmosphere where million dollar bails and felony charges will
become the norm for actions that should be First Amendment protected speech.
ACT UP members vow to continue their efforts to bring attention to the
pending quarantine legislation, including increasing pressure on local
officials to exercise their power today to protect future generations
tomorrow from this quarantine act. The next hearing for Pasquarelli and
Petrelis is set for December 20 at 10:30 AM in Dept. 206, 400 McAllister
Street, San Francisco.
Contacts: Todd Swindell -- (415) 637-HOMO
Michael Bellefountaine -- (415) 864-6686
ACT UP San Francisco
1884 Market Street * San Francisco, California 94102
Phone: (415) 864-6686 * Fax: (415) 864-6687 * www.actupsf.com