by Nathan Crabbe (Gainesville Sun)
An animal rights activist may face a criminal charge after University of Florida police alleged she violated a trespass warning to distribute fliers on campus offering a $100 reward for personal information about students who experiment on animals.
Lisa Ann Grossman, 50, of Jacksonville, was issued the warning in December for a protest inside a fundraiser at UF’s Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. UF police say that Grossman, a member of the animal rights group Negotiation is Over, violated the order Saturday by entering the Cancer and Genetics Research Building on campus to distribute the fliers.
The State Attorney’s Office is reviewing a possible trespassing charge, a second-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine. Grossman said members of Negotiation is Over were in Gainesville for the group’s campaign against animal research Saturday, but she declined comment on whether she entered the building.
She disputed the original trespass warning, saying that she paid $75 to attend the fundraiser and shouldn’t have been issued it. She said there was nothing wrong about conducting a campaign aimed at stopping animals from being “tortured in labs” by researchers and students alike.
“This is a holocaust and new ways have to be used to stop them,” she said.
The flier reads “STUDENTS EARN EA$Y MONEY” and offers $100 cash for information about each student learning to experiment with animals. The flier pledges that students who provide the information can “quit (their) part time job” if they give the name, picture, address, phone number and other contact information of other students involved in experiments.
Win Phillips, UF’s vice president for research, said the federal government requires research involving animals in the testing drugs and other medical breakthroughs that save lives. He said it was unfair to target students involved in “work that’s legal and approved by this country.” Phillips suggested activists instead focus on trying to change the law.
“That’s the American way,” he said.
The Negotiation is Over website describes the “bounties” being placed on biomedical students as a way to make them “understand that making the wrong choice will result in a lifetime of grief.
“Aspiring scientists envision curing cancer at the Mayo Clinic. We need to impart a new vision: car bombs, 24/7 security cameras, embarrassing home demonstrations, threats, injuries, and fear,” the website reads. “And, of course, these students need to realize that any personal risk they are willing to assume will also be visited upon their parents, children, and nearest & dearest loved ones. The time to reconsider is now.”
Derek Jacobs, a graduate research assistant in molecular genetics at UF, said animal research is done in a responsible, controlled way at UF under a committee that ensures federal law is followed. He said the campaign’s tactics were “outrageous” and that they could incite others to commit violence against students.
“It’s a call to arms in my opinion” he said.
Negotiation is Over previously put the addresses and phone numbers of UF faculty researchers on its website over claims that they conduct experiments on animals. After Grossman and fellow activists Camille Marino distributed fliers at the campus fundraiser in December, they were asked to leave and issued trespass warnings barring them from UF for three years.
Grossman was previously arrested for trespassing and resisting an officer without violence on Sept. 11 at the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville. She completed a deferred prosecution agreement by paying a $50 fine, completing 12 hours of community service and not breaking the law for six months — a period that ended June 9.
On the day of her arrest, Dove World Pastor Terry Jones had planned a Koran burning that received international attention. Grossman was arrested trying to appear in media coverage with a sign that featured the scripture verse Ephesians 2:19. She said she was trying to show that Jones was preaching hate that didn’t represent the beliefs of other Christians.
“I wanted to make sure that he was not being seen as representing all Christians,” she said.
She made a distinction between Jones’ rhetoric and the language used on the Negotiation is Over website. She said the group is not responsible if someone commits acts of violence but is simply providing information of the consequences of animal research for students to take into account.
Decades of dialogue has not been able to stop such experiments, she said.
“There’s never a year when less animals die in research. … That’s why the time for civil discourse has expired,” she said.