1 Jan. 2002

200 Activists, Civil Libertarians and Cultural Icons Sign Letter of Support for Jailed Gay Activists; Bail Fund Formed To Receive Contributions

Global Movement to Demand Fair Treatment and Reasonable Bail for San Francisco's Michael Petrelis and David Pasquarelli Grows Stronger

SAN FRANCISCO - The New Year has brought renewed hope for two HIV positive activists unjustly imprisoned and presently languishing at San Francisco County Jail in lieu of a combined $1.1 million bail. Since their incarceration 33 days ago on dozens of felony and misdemeanor charges stemming from a phone/fax/email zap of health officials and reporters, a widely circulated world-wide support letter for the two gay men - Michael Petrelis, 43, and David Pasquarelli, 34 - has secured over 200 international signatories.

The recently released support letter, updated December 28, 2001, boasts a growing list of influential activists, civil libertarians, and gay cultural icons. It calls for "fair legal treatment for Petrelis and Pasquarelli" and "their immediate release on reasonable bail."

The letter, conceived and circulated by New York gay civil libertarian Bill Dobbs and ACT UP Washington, DC activist Wayne Turner, states that "Petrelis and Pasquarelli conducted a 'phone zap' as part of a campaign against possible AIDS quarantine. Their vigorous efforts against the proposed Model States Emergency Health Powers Act have stirred strong emotions. While we (and others) may disagree with them on politics or tactics, the history of AIDS has often compelled aggressive responses by activists."

Initial signers onto the letter of support included gay authors Sarah Schulman, Ian Young, and Stuart Timmons; AIDS activists Ann Northrop and Judy Greenspan; and Tony Award winning playwright and actor Harvey Fierstein. The most recent supports of the imprisoned protesters include activists Jesse Heiwa, Tyler St. Mark, and long term person-with-AIDS, Mary Lucey; Gus Cairns, editor of the United Kingdom's Positive Nation Magazine; Clinton Fein, editor and publisher of; prominent lesbian author Patricia Nell Warren; Professor Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, PhD; and Reverend Pat Bumgardner, Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) of New York.

Global signers include Sky Gilbert of Canada, Alex Russell of the United Kingdom, Michael Baumgartner of Switzerland, and Peter Kasule of Kampala, Uganda.

The letter concludes by warning that "the prospect of high bail and escalating criminal charges for protest is a genuine threat to civil liberties" and that the "larger context for this case is the increased repression of political dissent in the last several years."

As a response to this increased repression of dissent and accountability demands and the immediate threat to Petrelis' and Pasquarelli's civil liberties, friends and family members of the two activists have launched The Direct Action Civil Liberties Fund (DACLF). The goal of the fund is to quickly raise the required $1.1 million bail to secure freedom for the jailed activists prior to trial. Upon resolution of the case, contributions in the form of returned bail will be used to offset legal fees and support expenses. The remainder will be used to initiate a legal defense and bail fund for future political protesters jailed unjustly.

The open letter of support is available for public viewing and sign-on at Open Letter Online ( or via the DACLF website. Contributions to The Direct Action Civil Liberties Fund can be made online with a credit or debit card at, or checks can be mailed to the address below:

The Direct Action Civil Liberties Fund
Attn: Free Petrelis and Pasquarelli
PMB 101
100 First Street, Suite 100
San Francisco, CA 94105


Media Contacts:
Mark Vermeulen
(415) 824-7533

Wayne Turner
(202) 547-9404