60 Minutes Report Results In ACT UP Arrest Warrant
60 Minutes Report Results In ACT UP Arrest Warrants
Activists to turn themselves in Monday to face trumped up charges filed by D.A. three months after non-violent office protest
"Radicals and reformers are not the darlings of their own times. Future generations may regard them with respect, but their own considers them cranks and pests." -- Vincent Hallinan, father of San Francisco District Attorney Terence Hallinan in his autobiography "A Lion in the Court"
SAN FRANCISCO -- One week after CBS News 60 Minutes shocked America by exposing deformities and death caused by toxic anti-HIV drugs, San Franciso's District Attorney issued arrest warrants for four industry whistleblowers including three ACT UP members who denounce scientific fraud surrounding the discredited notion that HIV causes AIDS and one website operator who publicly criticizes AIDS funding abuses.
As a result, Michael Bellefountaine and David Pasquarelli from the controversial San Francisco chapter of ACT UP, the AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power, will join veteran gay activist Michael Petrelis, Director of the website www.AIDS-statistics.com, at the Hall of Justice for a press conference to decry censorship and harassment of HIV-positive activists by San Francisco's cartel of powerful non-profit AIDS organizations.
WHAT: Press Conference and Surrender
WHEN: Monday, January 29, 2001 at 12:00 noon
WHERE: Hall of Justice, 850 Bryant Street
The three men plan to turn themselves in to authorities at 2:00 p.m. while a fourth activist, Todd Swindell, also of ACT UP, has agreed to surrender the first week of February.
Activists learned that arrest warrants had been granted on Friday, January 26 -- five days after 60 Minutes aired the controversial segment "AIDS: Nothing More To Worry About?" The investigative report featured ACT UP members being interviewed by correspondent Leslie Stahl, including Pasquarelli, Swindell and Bellefountaine who questioned the accuracy of HIV antibody testing, warned against the use of experimental AIDS drugs and declared AIDS to be over.
According to city officials, the warrants were a response to suddenly filed misdemeanor charges of disturbing the peace, unlawful assembly and inciting a riot stemming from a three-month old peaceful office protest at the San Francisco AIDS Foundation (SFAF) over a vulgar and offensive anti-gay advertisement placed in the local gay press. However, activists counter that the charges are the latest example of the city's selective and malicious prosecution of high-profile activists who criticize the lucrative AIDS industry that brings San Francisco millions of dollars in federal funds and research grants.
According to activists, the ongoing civil and criminal prosecution of political protesters from ACT UP is tantamount to a witch hunt meant to silence dissent and drive critics of the AIDS industry out of town. They say such a reactionary and hostile atmosphere to ACT UP's message smacks of vigilantism and is abhorrent for San Francisco, a liberal bastion that prides itself on a tradition of defending dissent and tolerating protest.
"It's a sad statement about San Francisco that District Attorney Terence Hallinan, the man who initially defended Patty Hearst and the S.L.A. in the seventies, would today be prosecuting non-violent gay protesters from ACT UP," commented activist Michael Bellefountaine. "Thanks to AIDS industry greed and doublespeak the liberal left has now been perverted into peddling poison as a cure and condemning condom-tossing as a violent crime."
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