FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - URGENT JAIL COMMUNIQUE: December 8, 2001
Contacts: Wayne Turner - (202) 547-9404
Michael Bellefountaine -- (415) 864-6686
UCSF Invades Jail to Intimidate AIDS Activists into Poor Health and Silence
Federally Funded AIDS Institution Pays Officers to Harangue HIV Positive Activists Day and Night in Jail: Lack of Sleep and Severe Stress Sends Michael Petrelis to Medical Ward with AIDS Illness
SAN FRANCISCO - Two outspoken AIDS activists imprisoned at San Francisco County jail on a combined one million dollar bail alerted their supporters late yesterday that they are targets of an in-house intimidation campaign orchestrated by anti-gay researchers from the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF).
According to activists Michael Petrelis and David Pasquarelli, they are being singled out and disturbed at all hours by officers on the UCSF payroll to serve them civil stay away orders. Lack of sleep and severe stress has overwhelmed the two HIV positive activists to such a degree that at the time of this alert's release Petrelis had been rushed to the jail's medical ward. Initial reports identified Petrelis' ailment as an untreated oral yeast infection that had developed into serious esophageal candidiasis.
While Petrelis and Pasquarelli are quick to acknowledge that the individual sheriffs sent to serve them civil papers in jail have been professional, both men say they have been startled out of sound sleep at all hours and even pulled naked out of showers to be served papers filed by UCSF.
The activists allege that the disturbing tactic of sending agents into the jail to single them out and target them in front of other inmates is intended to humiliate and intimidate. Pasquarelli emphasized that both he and Petrelis have assembled a legal defense team to which all court papers should be directed, and those lawyers have agreed to accept all papers.
"AIDS researchers and reporters with a vendetta lied and obtained civil and criminal stay away orders against us. They conspired to have us ambushed and arrested in court. They had us locked away with a million dollar bail. And now this," explained an emotional Pasquarelli. "The stress of incarceration coupled with lack of sleep and fear of humiliation is taking its toll. I hope we make it through this with our health intact."
The situation in jail turned serious Friday afternoon when Petrelis had to be removed from his cell and rushed to the medical unit due to AIDS related complications.
The trouble began Tuesday when Petrelis, weak and dehydrated, developed painful oral thrush on his inner cheeks.
The immune compromised activist notified jail medical services of his deteriorating condition three times in writing but to no avail. On Friday morning Petrelis' attorneys petitioned the court for medical attention and a judge agreed ordering an immediate evaluation. At 3:30 pm compassionate representatives from the jail's Forensic AIDS Project confirmed that Petrelis had a serious case of esophageal candidiasis requiring treatment with anti-fungal medication. He finally received his medicine at 5:30 pm Friday.
According to computerized court records a total of 27 restraining orders had been filed by The San Francisco Chronicle, The San Francisco Department of Public Health, and UCSF. To date 18 stay away orders have been served on the activists including the most recent ones filed on behalf of UCSF researchers Thomas Coates, Alberto Curotto, Ellen Goldstein, Steve Morin, Wallace Raven, Gregory Rebchook, Jeff Sheehy, Alice Trinkl, and Dan Wohlfeiler. A hearing has been scheduled for 10:30 am on December 20, 2001, in Department 206 of San Francisco's civil courthouse located at 400 McAllister Street.
The two AIDS activists were incarcerated on November 28, 2001, and charged with dozens of felony and misdemeanor offenses including stalking, criminal threats, conspiracy, and harassment for "sounding the alarms" over state and federal legislation that will more easily enable public health officials to quarantine AIDS patients.
According to the activists' accusers, Petrelis and Pasquarelli launched a two week phone, fax, and email zap of public officials, reporters, and AIDS researchers to express outrage over homophobic studies, AIDS corruption, and the looming quarantine plans. Besides demanding the dismissal of homophobic San Francisco STD Control Chief Jeffrey Klausner, the pair of protesters are urging federal officials to initiate an audit and criminal investigation into the funding of all San Francisco AIDS programs funded by the Ryan White CARE Act.
Drop The Charges Now! Free Petrelis and Pasquarelli!
Call District Attorney Terence Hallinan and express your outrage at the charges, bail and treatment of these two activists:
Terence Hallinan, District Attorney
Phone: (415) 553-1741
Fax: (415) 553-1737
850 Bryant Street, Room 322
San Francisco, CA 94103
ACT UP San Francisco
1884 Market Street * San Francisco, California 94102
Phone: (415) 864-6686 * Fax: (415) 864-6687 * www.actupsf.com