UCSF Calls in FBI to Stop ACT UP

9 Dec. 2001

UCSF HIV Researchers, San Francisco City Officials Met with FBI, File Domestic Terrorist Charges

San Francisco - Local Gay leaders and staff of the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) met with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) officials and urged the agency to take action against AIDS activists Michael Petrelis and David Pasquarelli, according to evidence recently secured by their attorneys. Petrelis and Pasquarelli are being held on an outrageously high bail of $500,000 each, stemming from a series of phone calls allegedly made by the two.

Papers obtained from prosecutors by defense attorneys Mark Vermeulen and Stuart Blumstein show a meeting was held with officials from UCSF, the Mayor's AIDS Office and the FBI on November 19, 2001 to discuss ACT UP San Francisco. A week earlier, on November 13, an official complaint of domestic terrorism was filed with the FBI by meeting attendee and UCSF AIDS researcher Stephen Morin, former aide to Minority Whip Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca). Memos from Morin 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.

A number of people attended the meeting including 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.

"What is more outrageous?" asked ACT UP member Karl Goldman, "That people who shut down the Golden Gate Bridge and attacked people at the Opera would now be calling other activists terrorists, or that the San Francisco gay community and UCSF are actively working as informants for the FBI? This is a dangerous precedent that will be used to stop all activists."

Activists are quick to point out that though there are records of meetings and phone calls to the FBI, there was no evidence turned over to corroborate allegations of stalking, harassing or threatening people, including children, violating a restraining order, or most importantly, that there was a bomb threat called into the San Francisco Chronicle. The activists maintain they are innocent of all charges and look forward to proving their case in court.

ACT UP San Francisco members have long been targets of UCSF, and a few prominent gay leaders, because of their stance that HIV cannot be the sole cause of AIDS and that AIDS drugs are toxic. Petrelis, who believes HIV is the cause of AIDS and is on AIDS medication, has been a sharp and vocal critic of local AIDS agencies' lack of financial accountability to the gay community they profess to serve. Petrelis' health has deteriorated since his incarceration, including an alarming incident where he was rushed to the jail medical ward for an AIDS related illness.

"It's frightening that the recent tragedy on September 11th is being exploited by UCSF," stated ACT UP member Michael Bellefountaine. "Its outrageous that UCSF experiments on the gay community, and then when gay activists criticize those experiments, they have them arrested, call them terrorists, and investigated by the FBI."

Contact: 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 *