Those who are keeping up with the soap opera consuming the Los Angeles Animal Services Department know that His Honor, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa caved to the demands of an extremist Animal Rights group and recently fired Animal Services Director Guerdon Stuckey. (The Mayor claims he did so because Mr. Stuckey hadn't increased the adoption rate sufficiently, or reduced the number of animals euthanized sufficiently.)
His Honor's failure to understand the difference between Animal Rights and Animal Welfare, and his ignorance about just who he was dealing with when he talked to representatives of the ADL-LA (op cit), led to his catastrophic promise to fire Mr. Stuckey, and then to delude himself into thinking that ADL-LA would negotiate in good faith with him, to believe that all concerned could reach some sort of happy middle ground!
As I've said before:
His Honor should have said one thing, "The ALF is a terrorist organization, and Dr. Jerry Vlasak is an ALF Press Officer. Dr.Vlasak is an ADL-LA director, and has publicly advocated the assassination of people to fulfill his ideological fantasy of animal liberation. Pamelyn Ferdin is President of SHAC-USA, and all that implies. I refuse to negotiate with terrorist organizations, their representatives or people who advocate murder. Period.")
Now, His Honor and LA City District Attorney Rocky Delgadillo have announced that they're going to try to prosecute the Animal Rights extremists, as if by doing so he, His Honor the Mayor, might cover his tracks in the entire sordid affair, an affair in which he made a campaign promise to fire Mr. Stuckey to the extremists, appeared to waver in doing so, and then caved after an on-again/off-again spate of intimidation and coercion launched by Animal Rights activists (op cit).
Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo filed 14 misdemeanor charges Friday against the Animal Defense League, saying the group violated state law by repeatedly harassing and intimidating a manager of the city's animal shelters.
The 19-page filing against the animal rights group came one day after Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa fired Guerdon Stuckey, the head of the Animal Services Department, who was also a victim of threats and vandalism by animal extremists. None of the charges in Delgadillo's case focused on Stuckey, however.
Delgadillo accused the league -- a group that has picketed the homes of several shelter employees -- of trespassing, vandalism, violating noise ordinances, intimidating the child of a public employee and using threats or other methods to prevent animal shelter worker David Diliberto from performing his duties.
The league faces fines of up to $120,000 if convicted. But Delgadillo said he also may use the case to strip the league of its nonprofit status and dissolve it as a corporation.
"What they're doing is criminal," he said. "They are a criminal enterprise. And this action is against the enterprise of the ADL."
While Mr. Delgadillo has good intentions, and it would be great if he could force the fines and pinprick the ADL-LA by stripping it of its nonprofit status, even if his quest for legal remedy should proove successful (unlikely), one has to wonder what took him so long . . .
Color me cynical, but it seems to me that the sudden interest in prosecuting these thugs, and the timing of the announcement, are merely a PR ploy to recast His Honor's image from that of an abject, bumbling official who caved to AR pressure to a tough, no-nonsense champion of law and order.
I am unimpressed.
League spokesman Jerry Vlasak -- who also serves as a spokesman for the Animal Liberation Front, which claimed credit for setting off a smoke grenade in Stuckey's apartment building -- called Delgadillo's case a publicity stunt timed to occur weeks before another league case goes to trial.
Vlasak said neither he nor his wife, ADL activist Pamelyn Ferdin, is worried about losing the group's nonprofit status.
"From a practical standpoint it wouldn't mean anything to the ADL, other than the $40 it cost us to become a corporation," he said.
He is infamously known stating that killing scientists is morally acceptable for his Animal Rghts/Liberation cause, and to have openly advocated the practice of assassination during an interview on television. He then achieved new heights by saying as much in his testimony before the US Senate, and then again on episode of the TV show 60 Minutes.
With his comments endorsing murder, Dr. Vlasak has sparked a debate within the violent wing of the animal rights movement. Or, more precisely, he has split that wing into a kinder, gentler part which will engage of any activity that comes to mind other than murder, including arson and the issuing death threats, and a splinter group that now considers murder to be permissible, a position lately expressed by Rodney Coronado when he endorsed what I called Non-nonviolent techniques when nonviolent techniques fail.
As I pointed out (op cit), such tactics would include murder, and it is no accident that Mr. Coronado likened the Animal Rights struggle to past human justice movements in which lives were traded freely. (Mr. Coronado, Dr. Vlasak and other Animal Rights activists believe that the life of a human and an animal are of equal value. Therefore, if it is moral to use a given tactic to achieve social justice between humans, it is equally moral to use that tactic in the animal rights cause.)
In distancing himself from Dr. Vlasak and his murderous comments, Skipper Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society represents the "anything but murder" faction. Dr. Vlasak, Mr. Coronado, and not surprisingly Dr. Vlasak's wife Pamelyn Ferdin, would represent a more violent splinter group that appears willing to employ assassination to achieve their goals.
Back to the article:
Delgadillo has had a mixed track record of prosecutions against league activists. Ferdin and a second league volunteer, Natalie Norcross, were acquitted last year of charges that they illegally protested within 100 feet of the San Pedro home of then-Mayor James Hahn.
The two activists filed a lawsuit seeking $3 million in damages earlier this month. Next month Delgadillo will go to trial on a case in which Ferdin and Vlasak are accused of trespassing on Diliberto's property and protesting within 100 feet of his home.
Delgadillo's latest case focuses largely on accusations that the Animal Defense League targeted Diliberto, the department's director of field operations, between January 2004 and December 2005. League members left obscenities and other messages on Diliberto's home answering machine, including "Resign or we go after your wife," according to Delgadillo's filing.
The league's representatives chanted "We know where you sleep at night" outside Diliberto's home, placed the names of his four children on the group's Web site, typed a "666" text message on his cell phone and showed up at his home at 3 a.m. posing as mortuary workers seeking to pick up a dead body, the lawsuit states.
Villaraigosa, who appeared at the Delgadillo press conference, warned that Police Chief William Bratton and other city officials will become increasingly creative as they crack down on groups that try to intimidate municipal employees.
"I expect him to use whatever resources necessary to deal with these kinds of people who don't understand there's a right way to protest and then there's unacceptable activity," he said.
You have to love this . . . His Honor the Mayor, having within hours demonstrated to the ADL-LA and their supporters the success of just those coercive, intimidating tactics he now condemns, he now lectures Animal Rights extremists on acceptable and unacceptable ways to protest! (Note to His Honor: any tactic that furthers the AR cause is acceptable to some of the AR fanatics he negotiated with — including murder.)
Am I the only one who's confused?
Regardless of any confusion, it looks like it will be hard to get a conviction.
Thus, in another article, we find Jerry Vlasak defending what the ADL-LA has being doing as expression protected by the First Amendment.
Not all speech is protected, and things hinge on whether or not a person's remarks represent a "True Threat:"
[ . . . ]
Legal experts say a critical issue in the case will be whether the group's protests amounted to a "true threat," which is not protected as free speech.
The 1st Amendment gives Americans broad rights to protest government actions — even to the point of calling for violent action. But when a person's words become a threat against an individual, the constitutional protection vanishes, courts have ruled.
In one recent case involving that issue, Judge Pamela A. Rymer of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals described the dividing line this way: "While advocating violence is protected" under the 1st Amendment, "threatening a person with violence is not."
That ruling came in 2002 in a lawsuit that may provide the clearest precedent for what Los Angeles is trying to do. In that case, federal courts ordered militant abortion opponents to stop using their website to display "wanted" posters of doctors who offered abortions.
The 9th Circuit ruled 6 to 5 that the website was not protected speech because the displays were created with the intention of inflicting bodily harm on the physicians.
But proving that the animal rights groups have similarly crossed the constitutional line will be difficult, legal experts said.
"I would say it's an uphill fight that the government has," said Jesse Choper, a law professor at UC Berkeley.
Delgadillo admitted that Los Angeles is moving into difficult legal territory, saying the case is "the first criminal complaint of its kind." But he said it was necessary to protect city employees.
The complaint filed by the city cited 62 specific acts allegedly committed since January 2004. They amounted to harassment and intimidation, the prosecutors said. If convicted on all 14 criminal counts, the league could face fines of up to $120,000, and its members could face probation.
Among the specific acts, the group is accused of calling officials' homes, taunting family members and sending a text message to Diliberto that read, "666," the sign of the devil.
The court filing also cites a photograph of Diliberto on the group's website that was overlaid with images of bullet holes.
[ . . . ]
Vlasak was defiant, saying it was unlikely that any conviction would stop him and other members of the group from continuing their efforts.
"No way will we pay one cent in fines," he said. "We only have about three or four hundred dollars."
Having made an injudicious promise to AR zealots to fire Mr. Stuckey while a candidate for Mayor, having entered into negotiations with Dr. Vlasak and the ADL-LA without knowing what AR is or who he was negotiating with, having fired Mr. Stuckey and thereby given every appearance of caving to the AR zealots, and now, too late, entering into what could easily be a legal fiasco where he has his head handed to him on a platter, His Honor the Mayor seems, yet again, to be about 2 steps behind his AR opponents, and ripe for another PR defeat at their hands.
Thanks to several readers who pointed me towards the URLs for this post.