Helpless Animals and Worried Smokers

The Cincinnati Animal Defense League last week took their year-old protest against Forest Pharmaceuticals to Green Township, where police have an even lower level of tolerance for dissent than cop

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Cameron Knight

Marching in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday are (L-R) Kerry Paterson, his son Jordan Paterson and granddaughter Linee Boyd.

The Cincinnati Animal Defense League last week took their year-old protest against Forest Pharmaceuticals to Green Township, where police have an even lower level of tolerance for dissent than cops in the city of Cincinnati. Two high school students — Stephanie Wilson, 18, of Oak Hills and Donald Antenen, 17, of Indian Hill — protested outside the home of Geoffrey West, an employee of Forest Pharmaceuticals. The company uses Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS ) to conduct animal tests on products. The activists say the laboratory has a history of cruelty to animals used in tests.

Police charged Wilson with menacing by stalking; she was held until payment of a $10,000 bond. Antenen faces charges of delinquency in Hamilton County Juvenile Court. The pair allegedly used bullhorns to yell, "Puppy killer, drop HLS." West, who did not return calls to his office, ran from his house and chased the protesters, according to police. The Cincinnati Animal Defense League says West jumped on the hood of the car the teens were driving. In an affidavit filed in Hamilton County Municipal Court, West told police "he felt imminent danger for himself, his family and his property."

Wilson and Antenen couldn't be reached for comment, but the Animal Defense League says the pair plan to fight the charges as unconstitutional.

"Calling constitutionally protected assembly 'stalking' is an injustice," says ADL member Tamara Matheson. "This is merely an attempt to intimidate activists."

Bar and restaurant owners have mobilized to block a proposal to ban smoking in bars and restaurants in the city of Cincinnati. The new Greater Cincinnati Hospitality Coalition aims "to protect the rights of local businesses, empowering themselves to make sound, common sense choices that best serve customer preferences." The new organization has about 100 members lobbying council, according to Kate Argue, spokeswoman for the coalition.

"Most people understand that this is an area city council should stay out of," says Tom Ford, president of the group.

Councilman David Crowley, co-owner of Crowley's Irish Pub and a former smoker, agrees.

"We already have hundreds of small businesses struggling to stay alive throughout our city," he says. "Why in the world would we want to create another roadblock for them?"

Standing Up for Oppressed White Women
Progressive Republicans weren't the only people lobbying for Leslie Ghiz to be appointed to a vacancy on Cincinnati City Council. So was Councilwoman Laketa Cole, a Democrat; she wrote Hamilton County Republican Party Chair Mike Barrett, urging Ghiz's appointment to fill the seat.

"Cincinnati is a diverse city and our council should reflect that diversity," Cole wrote. "However, there has not been a white female on council since the departure of Roxanne Qualls in 1999. I believe that representation is a missing part on city council and Leslie should fill that void."

Part of Ghiz's problem was her support for repeal of Article 12 of the city charter, which codified discrimination against gays and lesbians. Councilman Sam Malone campaigned against repeal in last year's election; he lost that fight. But when time came to replace Pat DeWine, now serving on the board of county commissioners, Malone wanted someone with similar conservative views on social issues.

DeWine had named Malone, the only other Republican on council, to pick his successor, and Malone's choice was a candidate who finished even lower on voters' lists in 2003 than Ghiz — former Councilman Chris Monzel. Aside from his call for banning abortions from city employee health care coverage, Monzel distinguished himself in his first term by calling for stronger measures against panhandlers.

The panhandling licensing ordinance was just one of the issues Councilman Christopher Smitherman urged citizens to consider on the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday. Following a short council meeting Jan. 12, Smitherman said the city should also examine the morality of its ordinance limiting low-income housing, the 2000 death of Roger Owensby Jr. in police custody, the city's treatment of the Owensby family, the brown-out at some fire stations and the police department's policy on using Tasers.

"I owe it to Martin Luther King Jr. for me to even be here today voicing an opinion about public policy," Smitherman said.

Smitherman unsuccessfully pushed council to ban the use of Tasers on children younger than 10. Though such an occurrence has never been reported, according to Smitherman's calculations last year Cincinnati Police used Tasers on 41 juveniles. The youngest was a 12-year-old African-American male, followed by a 13-year-old, six 14-year-olds, four 15-year-olds, eight 16-year-olds and 21 17-year-olds.

The stun guns are advertised as safe for use on humans ages 7 to 70, but Smitherman has long raised doubts. The voltage can't be adjusted to account for body mass, he points out.

He also noted Jan. 15 that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has launched an inquiry into claims made by executives of TASER International, Inc., which makes the Tasers used by Cincinnati Police.

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