Over the past several months Allison Lance Watson and Gina Lynn have spent time in and out of jail over their testimony or refusal to provide such testimony to a Seattle grand jury. One of the questions raised by the grand jury calling them to testify is who had implicated them in a number of acts of animal rights terrorism. According to a number of animal rights web sites, animal rights activist Geoff Kerns is apparently cooperating with the grand jury, probably as part of a plea bargain.
Kerns has been arrested a number of times for animal rights related activities. According to a Fur Commission USA press release, Kerns was one of three minors arrested at a Washington state fur farm in February 1999. According to the FCUSA,
On Tuesday, when the protesters left the [Seattle Fur] Exchange [following a protest sponsored by the Coalition to Abolish the Fur Trade that led two arrests], the hapless troupe reached the fur farm where about 15 people donned masks and jumped the fence. Five were quickly arrested by on-the-spot policemen. Three out-of-state minors — Lindsey Parme, Kyle Salisbury and Geoff Kerns — and two adults — Kim Berardi and Nicole Dawn Briggs — were charged with second degree burglary and first-degree theft.
Kerns was arrested again on August 2, 2000 at an anti-circus protest at the Los Angeles Sports Arena. According to a No Compromise report on the protest,
Meanwhile, three activists, Michelle Dyrness, Pamelyn Ferdin and Geoff Kerns, staged a lockdown in front of the front doors with lockboxes. (Lockboxes are three foot, cylinder, metal tubes weighing about 25 pounds each.) The activists inserted an arm into each lockbox and locked themselves to each other.
. . .
Three of the five activists remain incarcerated ON A HUNGER STRIKE at Southwest LA Precinct and the 77th Precinct (Jerry Vlasak, trauma surgeon/physician/MD, at Southwest — Pam F. and Michelle D. at 77th).
Two of the five civil disobediencers were minors and released a few hours after they were arrested. They were ADL-LA activists Geoff Kerns and Jeff Van-Name.
When Allison Lance Watson was charged with perjury, prosecutors were required to hand over any grand jury testimony related to the perjury charge to her lawyers as part of discovery. Part of that apparently included Kerns’ testimony, which Watson and/or her attorneys passed on to other animal rights activists.
No Compromise has an edited version of Kerns’ testimony (they have removed all of the names). The grand jury is clearly focused on that 1999 incident, and provides the grand jury not only with who the driver was (who escaped arrest), but also provides the name of a person he claims could identify the others who participated in the raid. Even with the names redacted, this makes for very interesting reading (especially the item I’ve bolded near the end),
AUSA: So it’s your testimony that you don’t recall anyone involved? You don’t recall any person involved in any animal rights or anti-fur protest or activity–
GEOFF: I recall seeing a couple of people. Just people that I recognized from L.A.
AUSA: Who did you see?
GEOFF: I saw [BLANK7]. S/he was at the protest. And I don’t remember specifically seeing them there but I would imagine [BLANK8] was there.
AUSA: Who is that?
AUSA: Who else did you see that you knew?
GEOFF: I believe maybe [BLANK]. I think s/he might have been there.
… AUSA: Ready to resume?
GEOFF: Actually, some of the questions that you have asked, as of now, have brought some things up that I didn’t recall at first…
GEOFF: Yeah. See, at the hotel, there’s one other activist I can remember specifically. And that
would be [BLANK9].
AUSA: What do you remember about [BLANK9]?
GEOFF: I just remember that s/he was there, actually with [BLANK10].
GEOFF: If you could go over some of those questions again.
AUSA: Let’s focus on, anyone else that you recall being involved in the fur exchange protest?
GEOFF: [BLANK11]. S/he’s also from Los Angeles.
AUSA: Anyone else?
GEOFF: [BLANK11], [BLANK7], again, [BLANK8], and [BLANK1].
AUSA: Do you remember any of them driving up to the mink release with you?
GEOFF: I believe [BLANK1] might have been in the car with me.
AUSA: You said you were in the back?
AUSA: Where was [BLANK1]?
GEOFF: If it was her/him, it was next to me.
AUSA: You knew her/him from Los Angeles, right?
GEOFF: I had met her/him a few times. S/he was kind of a not friend.
AUSA: What did you talk to her/him about on the way up to the protest?
GEOFF: Everybody was kind of silent. There was music on in the car, I think.
AUSA: Do you recall that s/he was the [person] next to you?
GEOFF: Not clearly. It might have been her/him. I could say with a decent amount of certainty that it was her/him, but I wouldn’t want to bank a perjury charge on it.
… GEOFF: Look, I am trying to remember these things. A lot of them are things that I intentionally try to block out. I am trying to be honest here, clear all this up, and move on with my life. I am not involved with any animal rights group right now. I am working for a medical company trying to improve my life. I am giving you guys names, telling you, I mean.
JUROR: It just seems like you are protecting these people. You are protecting certain individuals that you shouldn’t be. You are too bright for that.
GEOFF: I am telling you who was in the car with me.
..GEOFF: And, I mean, I donÂ’t do well in jail. You know, IÂ’m not the kind of person that can go in there and deal with the fights and the bigotry and all that. ItÂ’s not easy on me. IÂ’m oh, God. And, I mean, I am claustrophobic. It scares the shit out of me.
GEOFF: I have a belief about government in general. I have a lot of beliefs. Believe me, I am not talking to you guys because I want to see these people go to prison. I am not talking to you because– I am not talking to you because I like you. I am not talking to you because I trust you. I am not talking to you for any other reason than if I donÂ’t, I could go to prison.
AUSA: …Is it because youÂ’ve seen them at a lot of meetings, therefore you trust them or–
GEOFF: Can they handle going to jail, have they been to jail before, have they done a considerable amount of time, are they willing to do something like that again. Most people are going to rat people out, because they donÂ’t want to go to jail. Can they handle it.
AUSA: Is that why you want to get out? You canÂ’t handle it when things get tough?
GEOFF: I canÂ’t handle jail. I can handle being questioned. I canÂ’t handle jail.
… GEOFF: I don’t remember how other people were dressed. I don’t remember if anybody had a mask. Like I said, I remember that [BLANK1] was in the car, and that is it. I am trying to think about conversations I had with [BLANK2].
JUROR: There was a protest going on as well as the mink release?
JUROR: Do you know how many people were involved in the mink release part?
GEOFF: I would estimate 15 or 20.
… GEOFF: … [BLANK2] told me that s/he had driven to pick those people up that had all run into the woods and later caller her/him. So, I mean, if s/he had gotten away with the rest of them, s/he I mean, I don’t think s/he would have done that. I mean.
… GEOFF: … And it was the police or the FBI that ended up arresting me. Seriously, there were a lot of things I can’t recall about it. I do know [BLANK2] told me later on that s/he drove to pick them up. S/he knows who they are.
… JUROR: Had you ever heard [BLANK2]’s name before coming up here?
GEOFF: I think I heard her/his name. I think [BLANK3] were friends of hers/his.
…JUROR: Are you active with animal rights right now?
JUROR: You are not associated at all?
GEOFF: I have completely disassociated myself from it. The only contact I have had with people regarding or who are involved in the animal rights movement has been through an arrest last July. It was for an old warrant. And pertaining to this. And after some of the questions, as I said, I was able to go back and clarify things.
…JUROR: And you said you disassociated yourself with the whole animal rights. WhatÂ’s the reason for that?
GEOFF: ThereÂ’s a number of reasons. I was finding myself getting in a lot of trouble. That was one thing. I didnÂ’t want to destroy my life. I didnÂ’t want to do all this stuff, even though my ideals were so strong. And, you know, I didnÂ’t want to keep going through that. A lot of the people I had met were not the kind of people I liked associating with. On top of that, I burned a few bridges. I stole things from an activist house in Utah. They trusted me to be there, and I stole things from them. I was still– I had stopped doing drugs and started drinking and falling into a crowd that glamorized theft from the rich. And I betrayed someone who was a good friend of mine. And I couldnÂ’t stand the torment of those people continually confronting me about that. And I totally fucked that up.
AUSA: How do you justify breaking into another activistÂ’s home and stealing from them for the cause?
GEOFF: I donÂ’t justify it. I donÂ’t justify it. I donÂ’t pretend to. Breaking into an activistÂ’s home, that wasnÂ’t related to the cause. That was because I was fucked up. That was because I was going through a lot of things and learning about you know, new philosophies on how wonderful it is to shoplift and steal from the rich. And I went and did it. I was an idiot. I screwed up and betrayed people. ThereÂ’s no justifying that. At the time, I justified it by thinking, these people are rich. ItÂ’s okay to take from them. I donÂ’t have money. They do.
… GEOFF: … As I said, wanted to really start living my life and not just living unquestioning the way that everyone taught me to. We were taught to spout off statistics that we didn’t know were true. We were taught to, you know, embellish things to make things look more tragic than they already were.
JUROR: And when you are saying that you were taught things, who was teaching you? Who was giving you the statistics and telling you what to say?
GEOFF: I mean, just everybody. Mainstream animal rights groups, they don’t say where they get their statistics or anything like that. And, you know, people just say, you know, if you make things seem more extreme than they are, people aren’t going to research it. They are going to believe it. And I don’t know. It’s– the whole thing. I mean, you’ve got to understand, I have had all this stuff drilled into my head all the time about, you know, don’t snitch, don’t name names, don’t say things. And you have to understand that the vagueness and all that comes from a deep sense that I am betraying people that I loved. This is so hard for me.
JUROR: That is the believable Geoffrey. That is what we wanted to hear.
… GEOFF: … I really don’t remember her/ him driving up there. The only person I remember was [BLANK1], and s/he was sitting next to me…
AUSA: Do you want a minute before we go on? I have put a stack of pictures in front of you. And they are labeled Grand Jury exhibits GK 1 through 13. Can you take a look at each one? If you know who the person is, tell us the name.
GEOFF: This one looks familiar. I don’t know who s/he is.
AUSA: Is that GK1?
GEOFF: This is the only one that looks familiar, I don’t know where I’ve seen him before. It was probably at the protest. This one looks familiar. I might have seen him in Salt Lake. GK5–
… AUSA: Do you know [BLANK3]?
GEOFF: No, I don’t, not personally.
GEOFF: [BLANK4], GK9.
AUSA: That’s the next one that looks familiar after GK5?
GEOFF: Yeah. GK10 is [BLANK1]. GK11, I think, is [BLANK5]. GK12 I don’t know. So these are the only ones that look familiar.
AUSA: Let me hand you three more exhibits… Can you take a look at each set of pictures and tell us if you recognize the person in that?
GEOFF: It could be [BLANK5]. I don’t know though.
AUSA: There’s four pictures. So take a look at the four.
AUSA: I believe you told us earlier that you recognized her/his build.
GEOFF: Definitely her/his build. I can’t recognize the face though.
AUSA: Which exhibit is it that you are talking about?
GEOFF: It’s GK14.
AUSA: What about GK15 and 16?
GEOFF: 15, I don’t really remember. Is that [BLANK6], actually?
AUSA: Who is [BLANK6]?
GEOFF: My old friend, [full name].
… AUSA: Would you look back at GK14 for a minute. That’s the one I think you thought was [BLANK5].
GEOFF: Could have been, yeah.
AUSA: Could you take a look and tell us if you think it is?
GEOFF: I think so, based on the build, but the face is really blurry.
AUSA: You believe it’s [BLANK5] based on what you can see?
GEOFF: Yeah. I think [BLANK5] wears glasses. And based on the build, the lack of any fashion sense. That’s serious.
… AUSA: Are these people expecting to hear from you as far as what you have said here to the Grand Jury?
GEOFF: [BLANK1] told me to talk to her/him about it. I have not talked to her/him in the past couple of weeks, but–
AUSA: But s/he asked you to tell her/him what happened here. Are you planning to do that?
GEOFF: No. I was thinking about that last week.
… GEOFF: Which organization?
AUSA: The animal rights organization that you were involved in.
GEOFF: I was involved in a number of them. But in general, with activism movements such as that, if you do something like what I am doing now, this is the general rules, snitches get stitches.
AUSA: Then there are consequences for you?
GEOFF: If anybody finds out, yeah.
AUSA: For example.
GEOFF: I don’t know. Get beaten. Get hurt really bad.
AUSA: Had you heard that before, had somebody said if you do that, this is what’s going to happen?
GEOFF: I mean, not specifically, not relating to this. But in general, that like I said, snitches get
stitches. I mean, shit, I kicked this kid in the face for doing the same thing in Long Island.
AUSA: So you do have some fear for your safety because of what’s happened here at the grand jury?
GEOFF: If anybody finds out, I don’t know what happens. If they do, yeah.
AUSA: If it’s any consolation to you, you haven’t snitched on anyone.
GEOFF: I have talked about [BLANK5].
AUSA: No, you haven’t. People showed you pictures of [BLANK5]. And you said, yeah, that’s [BLANK5]. And you said you heard s/he had picked up some people after the mink release. We already had that information.
GEOFF: It’s still snitching. The thing you got to understand, you don’t help them put people in jail. And if they didn’t have a use for it, for me coming up here and doing that, then they wouldn’t be bringing me up here.
… GEOFF: Right, but I picked her/him from that. I am not trying to protect her/him. If s/he was driving the car, why would I say s/he was not driving the car but pick her/him out there?”
Geoff Kerns snitches to grand jury. San Diego IndyMedia, August 28, 2004.
Geoffrey Kerns talks. No Compromise, September 18, 2004.
6 Arrested, 2 Hurt at LA Sports Arena Circus Protest. No Compromise, August 2, 2000.
Quick Arrest for bungling terrorists. Press Release, Fur Commission USA, February 23, 1999.