Law enforcement officials investigating a San Diego fire that destroyed a five-story apartment complex on August 1 raided the home of animal rights activists David Agranoff and Cari Beltane on August 14.
Agranoff and Beltane run an animal rights group called Compassion for Farm Animals. In May 2003, Agranoff was forced to submit hair, saliva and fingerprints to a Indiana grand jury investigating an arson at an Indiana poultry case.
Agranoff and Beltane later led a protest attended by about 30 activists complaining of the “harassment” they faced from police. Agranoff said at the protest,
We are not guilty of anything. Neither was Martin Luther King when he was targeted by the FBI. People have the right to an opinion without being subject to criminal investigation.
Most news outlets, however, failed to note that Agranoff has faced legal troubles before this related to his animal rights activism. In 1996, Agranoff, then 22, was sentenced to 6 months in jail and fined $1,000 after being convicted of resisting arrest and unlawful assembly during a protest at a New York fur store. At the same trial, Nicole Rogers, 19, was sentenced to two months in jail and a $500 fine, and Christopher Tarbell, 20, to one month in jail and a $500 fine for trespassing and unlawful assembly.
Agranoff’s sentence was thrown out on appeal to the New York State Supreme Court, but Rogers and Tarbell’s sentences were affirmed.
Oddly enough at trial, lawyers for the trio complained that they were being unfairly associated with Anima Liberation Front-style actions, so it was a bit surprising to see that among other things that apparently drew the attention of law enforcement to Agranoff is his role in arranging an appearance of Rodney Coronado to speak in San Diego the day of the arson.
Judge Sentences Fur Protesters To Jail Three Animal-Rights Activists Were Convicted Of Misdemeanors For Their Actions During A Demonstration At Georgio’s Furs. The Post-Standard (Syracuse, New York), August 2, 1996.
Animal Rights Activist Sentenced To 7 Months Convictions Of Two Other Members Of The Group In Separate Incident Upheld. Jim O’Hara, The Post-Standard (Syracuse, New York), March 1, 1997.
Agents raid activists’ home in arson probe. San Diego Union-Tribune, August 2, 2003.
They call search by agents harassment. Ray Hubbard, San Diego Union-Tribune, August 24, 2003.