On Jan. 15, Cornell alumnus Bryan Pease ’00 was arrested while demonstrating in a protest for animal rights in Conway, Ark. His court date has been set for June 14. Pease was charged with commercial burglary, third degree battery, criminal mischief, resisting arrest, and fleeing arrest.
He was arrested as he rallied with about 20 to 30 demonstrators outside of international banking and investment firm Stephens, Inc. The activism group, Stop Huntington Animal Cruelty (SHAC), objected to Stephens Inc.’s financial support of Huntington Life Sciences. The group claims that Huntington Life Sciences, an international contract animal testing company, abuses animals. Huntington Life Sciences denies these allegations. According to the SHAC website, Stephens Inc. recently sold their stock shares in Huntington.
“[The protesters] entered the building knocking pictures off of the walls, kicking trash cans, [and] kicking desks,”
said Lieutenant Chip Stokes, the public information officer for the Conway Police Department.
Pease believes the charges against him are exaggerated.
“Historically, the police are there to protect the perpetrators of injustice and they have a tendency to trump up charges against activists,” said Pease. “It’s nothing new, it’s something we have to deal with.”
Regardless, Pease said he would rather discuss the campaign against animal cruelty than focus on the details of his incident.
“I think the ways animals are treated by any industry in our society would be objectionable to most Americans. If they knew what went on behind the scenes, they would be disgusted,” he said. He then described a videotape from an undercover investigation, which he said documented Huntington Life Sciences employees punching beagles in the face and injecting freon into live monkeys’ veins.
“I’d like to see an end to all industries that exploit animals,” he said. “Animals exist for their own purposes and they aren’t here [for us] to exploit for our own purposes.”
While at Cornell, Pease actively participated in the Cornell Coalition for Animal Defense (CCAD), and served as president of the organization during the 1998-1999 and the 1999-2000 academic years.
When told the alleged details of the incident, Carol Rosen, advisor for the CCAD, expressed surprise.
“I have never known [Pease] to condone, much less participate in, any form of violence,” she said. “It’s at odds with all that I know of him.”
Although she has not spoken to Pease since the incident, Rosen voiced suspicion about the accuracy of the allegations.
“I certainly can believe that the other side would like to exaggerate [his actions] … [the company] would really like to see an example made of someone who had the nerve to protest their activities,” she said.
Remembering Pease as a leader in CCAD, Rosen recounted Pease’s enthusiasm for the animal rights cause.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if he had leadership in something. He is a vigorous activist,” she said.
“He was what some people would call a live wire,” she added.
Pease participated in several protests while attending Cornell as an undergraduate.
The most publicized event involving Pease occurred on Nov. 2, 1998, when he and other students held a silent protest outside of Comstock Hall.
Objecting to the killing of frogs for biological dissection, they refused to show identification when Cornell University police arrived at the scene. All of the protesters were charged with trespassing, and Pease was also charged with harassment. However, the harassment charges were dropped, according to Rosen.
During his years at Cornell, Pease also entered a biology laboratory with a camcorder to protest the dissection of a rat, rallied against use of rhesus monkeys in pregnancy research, protested Cornell Dining’s “Got Milk” campaign, and campaigned for Cornell Dining to offer a wider variety of vegan and vegetarian options.
Archived article by Shannon Brescher