August 1st, Animal Defense League activists David Agranoff, 22; Nicole Rogers,
20; and Chris Tarbell, 20; were sentenced to 6 months, 2 months, and one month
in jail respectively. They were also fined between $1,000 to $500 each. Dozens
of supporters, twelve police officers, five TV stations, 2 newspapers, and 2 radio
station reporters packed the courtroom as Judge Brian DeJoseph handed down the
heinous sentence. The activists' charges resulted from their participation in
a peaceful act of civil disobedience at a local fur salon on February 17th.
that day, dozens of members of the Animal Defense League (ADL) protested Georgio's
Furs in downtown Syracuse. Four of the activists pulled down the security gate
on the front of the store, and locked on to the inside of it, effectively preventing
customers from entering.
Outside of the stores activists were conducting
a peaceful protest chanting, holding signs, and distributing leaflets. One of
these protesters was David Agranoff. Officer Walter Paczinski walked through the
throng of protesters straight up to David, grabbed him and said, "You're
Officer Paczinski has a vendetta
against David Agranoff. Last August, David and his friend Tom Ranger were simply
leafleting Georgio's Furs. Because this is on Officer Paczinski's "foot beat"
he happened by.
Paczinski told the activists, "You have to get out
They responded, "No we don't. We have a first amendment
right to free speech and peaceful protest."
Paczinski responded, "You
don't have any rights" and forced them to leave the area.
Tom did the only reasonable thing and filed a complaint against the officer for
violating their civil liberties. During that February 17th protest, Officer Paczinski
wanted his revenge!
When Paczinski told David he was
under arrest, David again asserted his first amendment rights. Paczinski yelled
to David, "I'm not here to listen to you! I'm the cop and you'll do what
I say!" He then motioned to other officers to help him drag David away. Three
other cops jumped on David. David was trying to walk with them, but found it difficult
when three officers -- Paczinski, Kellogg, and Nappy had his hands pulled tight
behind his back and were pushing and pulling him. The officers, not content with
David's behavior, held a can of mace right into his face. In fear, David rapidly
pulled his head back and closed his eyes. His sudden jerking action caused one
of the cops to fall down and strain a muscle. David was subsequently charged with
"unlawful assembly" and "resisting arrest."
activists who were locked onto the security gates were also arrested and charged
with "unlawful assembly" and "criminal trespass in the 3rd degree."
Of the four activists who locked on, two were juveniles. The other
two, Nicole Rogers and Chris Tarbell were taken to jail, along with Dave Agranoff.
Bail was set at $1,000 for all three of them. They refused to pay bail and went
on hunger strike. On the third day, they went before an arraignment judge who
lowered Nicole and Chris' bail to $500, while against all reason, raised Dave's
bail to $5000!!!
Nicole and Chris were released on their own recognizance
on the fourth day. Dave's attorney paid $500 for him to be released.
The three activists trial was a total farce. Jurors are supposed
to represent an unbiased panel of peers. On their jury were two hunters, the alternate
was a former furrier, and another juror was a long-time friend of officer Paczinski
whose husband and son were both New York police officers. Anther juror stressed
how her brother was a hunter and she had absolutely no problems with that. Another
juror stared into space, at the ceiling, looked at his watch, or sat in a daze
during the entire trial.
During the week-long trial evidence was introduced
proving that no one ever told the activists to leave, meaning trespass was not
committed. People took the stand and explained previous altercations between Officer
Paczinski and David. They talked about the history of police harassment of activists
in Syracuse (which includes the police arresting activists who went to the public
safety building to file a complaint against the police. They were arrested for
Trespassing in the Public Safety Building -- A building open to the PUBLIC!!).
Videos, leaflets, and Pictures of the incident were also introduced into evidence.
Officer Paczinski also perjured himself on the stand when he said that
he had never has problems with David before arresting him. The Defense lawyer
introduced Officer Paczinski's police report which stated he had arrested Dave
because he had "problems with him in the past." When asked, Paczinski
could not even tell the court the exact offense he arrested David for.
Deliberation began at 5pm on a Friday afternoon, it ended 45 minutes later. The
jury never asked to see the evidence, never asked for clarification on the law,
never asked to see the transcripts of the trial or anything! In a hurry to get
home and enjoy their Friday night, they simply found the activists guilty and
were done with it.
SENTENCING AND BACK TO JAIL
Judge Brian DeJoseph
then turned to the compassionate activists and said, "You are a Disgrace!"
Never mind the fact that he sees rapists, murderers, and child molesters in his
courts; these courageous comrades who fight for innocent animals were filth in
his eyes! If anyone is a disgrace -- the judge is!!!
At sentencing David
Agranoff was given 6 months in jail and a $1,000 fine. Nicole Rogers was given
2 months in jail and a $500 fine. Chris Tarbell was given one month in jail and
a $500 fine.
After sentencing, dozens of supporters went and picketed the
jail house where the three activists started their sentence and hunger strike.
David was granted a stay of execution pending the outcome of the appeal and released
on the first day. Prison authorities released Nicole and Chris on the fifth day
of their hunger strike, and after numerous protests by local activists on their
behalf, including a civil disobedience action at Georgio's Furs -- the original
site of the arrest. Like Dave, they received a stay of execution pending appeal.
Animal Defense League is desperately trying to raise the $6,000 needed to pay
for the activists' appeals. Help these activists fight their local police harassment
and outrageous convictions by sending as generous a donation as you can to:
PO Box 6845
Syracuse, NY 13206