IN-YOUR-FACE AIDS ACTIVISTS ARE OUT
By Tanya Pamplone
San Francisco Examiner 12 Feb. 2002
Two controversial activists were released this weekend after their bail was
slashed from $1.1 million to $220,000.
David Pasquarelli, a member of the renegade group ACT UP San Francisco, and
independent AIDS activist Michael Petrelis were met by 10 supporters upon
release from San Francisco County Jail at 9:30 p.m. Friday. The two men
were being held on more than 20 felony and misdemeanor counts.
Judge Parker Meeks Jr. reduced bail last week during a preliminary hearing.
Bail for Petrelis was reduced from $500,000 to $100,000. Pasquarelli's bail
dwindled from $600,000 to $120,000.
Pasquarelli and Petrelis were arrested Nov. 28 on charges including
criminal threats, harassment and stalking. They are accused of making
threatening and obscene phone calls to Department of Public Health
officials, the Chronicle and University of California, San Francisco
employees. Charges of a bomb threat are also referred to in court papers.
"It's good to finally be free," Pasquarelli said. "I look forward to
presenting my case to a San Francisco jury, where I am confident that I
will be found innocent of these outrageous charges."
Pasquarelli said he and Petrelis are unable to go to the ACT UP San
Francisco office space because it is near the AIDS Health Project. Meeks
ruled as a condition of bail that neither man could go within 150 yards of
the facility, which is a few doors from ACT UP San Francisco on Market and
Laguna streets. Pasquarelli also agreed to not attend any "public meetings."
Their arrests have been disputed in activist circles nationwide. Some claim
the excessive bail and charges are a violation of the men's civil rights,
while local AIDS activists maintain they have been harassed for years by
Petrelis and Pasquarelli and their arrests were long overdue.
The renegade group, which believes HIV is not the cause of AIDS, is known
for in-your-face tactics such as dumping kitty litter on the executive
director of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, and pouring blood on AIDS
Michael Siever, who is a member of Survive AIDS and of AIDS Activists
Against Violence and Lies, a group that formed in response to ACT UP San
Francisco's activities, said he is looking for a long-term solution to the
activities of the notorious activists.
"The ultimate outcome we are looking for is to get these guys to stop
harassing and terrorizing people," Siever said. "They have been threatening
people, disrupting meetings and making people scared for years. Dissent is
fine, disagreement is fine, but what they do scares the hell out of people."