April 9, 2007
Video footage and photographs available upon request.
Santa Monica, California- In a ludicrous over-reaction, at taxpayer
expense, to a picket in the neighborhood of UCLA primate vivisector, Nelson Friemer,
www.UCLAPrimateFreedom.com and click on targets for more information) approximately twenty riot police wearing bullet proof vests and shields, another fifteen motorcycle police, and still another twenty stationary police blocked the residence and alleyways around Friemer's home. Police completely closed off a portion of 12th Street for eight hours in response to a picket taking place on Sunday, April 8th. A police helicopter and three cars driven by undercover police followed fifteen activists from their meeting spot at the Mulholland Park-n-ride to the site of the picket in Santa Monica.
As the fifteen legal and peaceful activists drove to the picket in a
caravan, more than twenty Santa Monica motorcycle cops, stationed in a group near the corner of Olympic and twentieth streets, pulled out and surrounded the five vehicles, two of which were driven by legal observers present to document Santa Monica police misconduct encountered by activists over the past six months. Three of the five vehicles were pulled over before they even arrived at the picket for citations that were clearly designed to try and intimidate the activists. One car with three activists was pulled over for a broken tail light (which was not broken) but the police used this to physically throw open all the doors of the vehicle and threaten to arrest everyone inside if they did not identify themselves. Another car carrying five activists, including one activist in her seventies sitting in the back seat, was pulled over and the senior activist was cited for not wearing a seat belt. The seven motorcycle cops who surrounded the vehicle and shouting
commands simultaneously to the five activists inside the vehicle didn't
seem to care. The senior activist, Coby Siegenthaler, stated to legal observers afterwards, "I haven't seen anything like this since I was a child in Nazi-occupied Holland. I was terrified by all the police surrounding the car and being so nasty, condescending and demeaning to activists who weren't doing anything wrong."
Protesters eventually made their way to 453 12th street in Santa Monica
where Nelson Friemer, who imprisons and tortures non-human primates at UCLA, resides. Legal observers who encountered the militarized neighborhood consulted a lead officer who stated in a sarcastic tone, "I'm not going to talk with you about any ordinances; you should know them; all I can tell you is that if anyone violates a Santa Monica city ordinance, they will be arrested without warning."
Activists proceeded to march around the neighborhood, but were forced to whisper because an officer holding a microphone and noise calibrator stated at a previous picket that even chanting in a normal voice would be a violation of the Santa Monica noise ordinance. Most of the neighbors who stood watching the picketers were very sympathetic to the activists and were clearly upset that their block had become a police state. When three neighbors approached an activist and asked for literature, that activist was surrounded by police and cited for "unlawful distribution of handbills."
In one of the most absurd actions attempted by the police, officer Muir
tried to cite activists for a noise violation when they stomped their feet
on the sidewalk before coming to a stop! Because the entire attempt was caught on video tape, and the legal observer pointed out to the police that kids were making more noise across the street with their skateboard, Muir was forced not to cite activists for a noise violation. Each activist was then followed to their vehicle and videotaped by two officers who had cameras in their faces the entire time.
One neighbor who followed the fifteen activists down the street while
clapping and thanking them for standing up for something they believed in, along with others giving activists thumbs-up as they passed by, agreed that the police appeared completely out of control. One neighbor stated, "I am completely shocked to see picketers being treated this way, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of tax dollars the Santa Monica police are spending on this fiasco." Another neighbor stated, "I would have never even known about Nelson Friemer and the awful experiments he does on primates if the police hadn't made such a big deal out of it. The whole neighborhood now knows what this guy is responsible for and we don't like it." Three younger teens approached the activists and stated, "We want Freimer the hell out of our neighborhood; the cops protecting an animal abuser like him is totally messed up."
Because of the ongoing extreme and unlawful actions taken against animal activists in the city of Santa Monica, the press liaison for the day,
Pamelyn Ferdin stated, "It seems that there are only a small group of
activists now willing to come out to Santa Monica because of police fear
and intimidation. The ones who come out are proud and put up bravely with police misconduct. Other activists are not coming out but will likely be forced to engage in illegal activities because it's easier then doing a legal picket!
These policeman, by their heavy-handed tactics, are forcing activists to lurk in the shadows where it's safer. Santa Monica police don't seem very bright when tackling activism; they should instead study other historical
struggles and learn from the mistakes made by the police during civil
rights and the Vietnam war protests. If they were smart, they would be thrilled that activists are picketing in the streets because that is the best way to allow for anger to be discharged in a legal way."
Minnesota Primate Freedom Project