25 June 2001) - Activists gathered outside and inside a Novartis location in St Louis Park, MN to protest that corporations ties to xenotransplantation and biotechnology. 6 activists took part in high risk activities. The action was held in solidarity with the protests in San Diego this week opposing biotechnology; and the protests in Barcelona, Spain against the World Bank, a meeting which was cancelled due to fear of protests.
At approximately 8:15 a.m., the six people converged on the building. Two climbed the roof and dropped a banner over the Novartis sign reading, "Novartis / HLS destroying Mother Nature and her inhabitants one experiment at a time." Four people entered the building and two locked down in an office.
By 10:00 a.m., the St Louis Park Police had arrested the two individuals locked in the office. Captain Ron Walker explained that the police had broken the door down at the request of Novartis. The two individuals inside had barricaded the door with filing cabinets and desks.
Upon gaining entry to the office, they found that the two demonstrators had locked themselves down in the office using U-Locks. Fire fighters then cut through the locks and the police arrested both. Walker said there were no injuries either to demonstrators or police officers.
Others gathered across the street from Novartis with signs and leaflets to raise awareness about biotechnology in morning motorists. Several people distributed leaflets to cars waiting at traffic lights. They reported an acceptance rate of about 50%.
By 10:15 a.m., firefighters and police officers had removed the banner from the Novartis sign with some difficulty. Despite the help of a cherry picker, it took them longer to remove the sign than the demonstrators needed to put it up. Shortly thereafter, the protest regrouped at the St Louis Park Police Station to maintain jail solidarity with the arrested demonstrators.
One of the two who were arrested is being transferred to juvenile detention and the other could be released after 36 hours. He may be charged with burglary, obstruction of legal process, disorderly conduct, and trespassing or a combination of those charges. A lawyer from the National Lawyers Guild reported that they were being treated well and one officer commented on the creativity of the action.
The action highlighted Novartis' ties with Huntingdon Life Sciences. One of the pamphlets reads, "Huntingdon Life Sciences is Europe's largest contract animal testing laboratory and ranks as one of the largest in the world." It goes on to reveal that undercover investigations of HLS facilities have revealed extensive cases of animal cruelty.
Interestingly, the action was originally billed for a Novartis location in Golden Valley. There were reports of both plain clothes and uniformed police officers from Golden Valley attending the planning meeting at Arise! bookstore for the days action. Bob Hearnz of the Golden Valley Police Force did not care to comment on the police presence at Arise.
During the action in St Louis Park, there was a red Ford with two officers who refused to identify which police force they worked for or their names. The same sedan was parked in front of the Golden Valley Novartis later that day.
The Novartis building was well protected by The Golden Valley Police. Hearnz commented that they had no idea what to expect. The Novartis sign in front of the building was covered with tarp, presumably as a precaution against vandalism. All but one of the entrances to the parking lot were blocked and all of the cars that entered the lot were required to go through a check point. The police in Golden Valley stated that things had gone very well and less than ten activists had shown up and were all orderly.
Unfortunately, some people were confused upon their arrival in Golden Valley and seeing only police in the area. Two folks from the Coalition for Animal Rights Education (CARE) were disappointed that they were unable to participate in the action.
Today two activists barricaded themselves in the offices of a Novartis distribution center in St. Louis Park, Minnesota to protest Novartis's use Of HLS and their ties to the biotech industry.
Brandon Noard is being held in St. Louis Park jail pending a decision about his charges. Skogin Zimmerman has been ransfered to Hennepin County Juvenile Holding until possibly tommorwow as of this writing. We are askin folx to call St. Louis Park jail to make sure Brandon gets vegan meals, and we are askin folx to contact Hennepin County District Attorney Amy Klobachar at email email@example.com
Telephone: (612) 348-9748
Fax: (612) 348-9712
Tell her not to charge concerned citizens with felonies. Charge NOVARTIS for animal cruelty and killing the earth!!
For details of the action against HLS and Novartis