UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA: CRIMINALIZING TRANSPARENCY
(Compiled from news sources and government documents -- November 15, 2013, and January 8, 2014)
In the summer of 2010, activists discovered that University of Florida researcher Mingzhou Ding was receiving taxpayer-funded annuities totaling millions of dollars from the National Institute of Health (NIH) to perform brain-mapping experiments on monkeys.1 Brain mapping is a singularly barbaric exercise in which the skull cap is sawed off to expose the brain. The conscious animal is then restrained in a chair, sometimes bolted into place with screws that secure the skull to a metal rod to prevent all movement while pain, blindness, or any of a spectrum of tortures is visited upon the subject. The animal is regularly deprived of food and water because starvation and dehydration induce compliance in the desperate monkey. Electrodes are attached to the brain throughout the animal’s ordeal to measure responses to offending stimuli.
Animal activists initiated a campaign in Florida to protest this heinous form of cruelty and to educate the community about the primate experiment industry that remained hidden from the public. UF spokesperson Janine Sikes immediately lashed back in the news media, attempting to discredit activists. She is on record as noting that the experiments for which taxpayers were financing Ding were not being performed at their institution.2
But according to UF Public Affairs director Janine Sikes, the experiments were not done at UF and the data were public domain.3
The discrepancies between Ding’s NIH grant applications and monies received by UF were never addressed. To this day, it remains unclear how many universities may be enjoying a windfall of federal-grant money from experiments in which they have zero involvement.
A state-level open-records request was immediately filed with the University of Florida to enable the community to scrutinize public veterinary records and protocols which document the exact nature of their experiments. UF chose to remain in noncompliance with Florida Sunshine Laws for 14 months until the court compelled disclosure in Camille Marino v. The University of Florida on December 30, 2011. UF chose to provide activists with documents in which certain relevant information was redacted. An appeal would subsequently be filed to compel full disclosure.
As a consequence, the first records published by activists indicate that, while some monkeys were stolen from their homes in the jungles of Guyana or Puerto Rico as babies and kept in cages enduring unspeakable experiments for decades.4 Others document gross negligence and violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act.5
Five weeks after winning this lawsuit, on February 4, 2012, the two activists who initiated the campaign this campaign in Florida, Lisa Grossman and Camille Marino, were arrested at a vigorous anti-vivisection protest at the university. Grossman was arrested for standing on the sidewalk and protesting with an expired driver's license. She was released the following morning and the case would subsequently be thrown out when she went to trial. The court transcripts in the State of Florida v. Lisa Grossman indicate that the police lied on the stand and knew they had no valid reason to take Grossman into custody.
In Marino's case, UF had arranged to have her extradited to Michigan to be prosecuted in Detroit for an unrelated campaign at Wayne State University. (Public records indicate that UF not only orchestrated the arrests, but financed Camille's extradition as well.) She had republished public information about Donal O'Leary at WSU who was under federal investigation for his experiments involving dogs. (He is currently the subject of a third federal investigation in two years, this time for 16 major violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act.) In defiance of an injunction, she refused to remove the data from her website. As public records now document, UF seized this opportunity to finance Marino's extradition to Michigan and shut down the campaign in Florida for good.
Marino’s entire defense in Detroit was based on the First Amendment. Out on bond in Michigan, she staged an act of non-violent civil disobedience to protest the orchestrated attempts by the university vivisection industry to silence her. She taped her mouth and chained herself to the library on the WSU campus in May 2012. Her judge continued her bond, and Camille was allowed to fly home to Florida. Before she was able to walk outside, however, she was remanded back into custody by WSU police, detained for five days in a bare cell where she slept on a slab of concrete, and, ultimately, charged with two felonies: aggravated stalking and “posting a message.” She holds the dubious distinction of being the only person ever charged in Michigan with the obscure second felony, which relates to material written by her former colleague that she allowed to be published on her website. She faced 10 years in prison.
In order to avoid a long and costly trial and anxious to re-focus her attention on UF, Marino pleaded guilty to posting a message and misdemeanor trespass. All other charges against her were dismissed. She served six months in the Wayne County jail system in Detroit and was placed on probation in Michigan for three years. Before being released on March 9, she won her appeal against the University of Florida on February 22, 2013, from her cell. Out of jail and finished with her legal obligations in Detroit, Marino returned home where she took possession of the unredacted public records she had been awarded.
Within weeks of winning this second lawsuit, the University of Florida had Marino’s probation violated in Michigan, had her re-arrested in Florida, and financed yet another extradition to Michigan. The alleged infraction arose from a video that was uploaded by Marino’s colleagues 14 months before she was ever placed on probation but violated her probation because it contained images of Donal O’Leary. The subpoenas and violation were initiated solely by UFPD detective Jeff Moran6 on behalf of the university. Yet, once again, Janine Sikes, speaking for the University of Florida, was in the news media‑‑which reported this alleged violation as “fraud by wire”‑‑blatantly lying and seeking to discredit Marino and divert public attention from the lucrative taxpayer-funded atrocities that line their coffers with hundreds of millions of dollars annually.
“All I know is she’d violated her probation from Michigan,” Sikes said. “We don’t have anything to do with it.”7
Camille Marino is back home in Florida but UF went to the state and had extra sanctions placed upon her so that she is barred from publishing the records she fought for for 29 months in court to obtain. Violation of this stipulation will result in up to five years in prison in Michigan. After a back-and-forth battle to compel transparency inside the University of Florida that began in October 2010, Marino has been arrested five separate times, had her house raided and all of her computers and records seized by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) at UF's behest in June 2012, has endured two separate extraditions, and has served over eight months in total since she was first arrested in February 2012.
And the University of Florida, now confident that it has finally effectively silenced Marino, has returned to business as usual, free from public scrutiny or pesky activists exposing its lucrative animal cruelty business and lies. For more information, please visit universityofflorida.us.
1 The National Institute of Health (NIH) awarded $270,060 annually to Ding as the Principal Investigator conducting Biomedical Engineering experiments. Project Number: R01MH079388-03.
2 Dissident Voice, “The Science of Public Deception” (November 27, 2010): http://dissidentvoice.org/2010/11/the-science-of-public-deception/
3 The Independent Florida Alligator, “UF Defends Accused 'Animal Murderer'” (October 10, 2010): http://www.alligator.org/news/campus/article_a5d3d6ae-d5ae-11df-b82b-001cc4c03286.html
4 Monkey 2A4: http://universityofflorida.us/monkey-24a-after-17-years-of-torture-inside-uf-he-died-at-the-gloved-hands-of-his-tormentors/
5 Louis: http://universityofflorida.us/louis-harrowing-life-and-death/
7 The Gainesville Sun, “Animal Activist Back in Custody” (May 23, 2013): http://www.gainesville.com/article/20130523/ARTICLES/130529791/0/
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January 8, 2014,
by Barry D. Friedman.
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January 8, 2014,
by Barry D. Friedman.