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LOCAL News :: Activism : Animal Rights : Baltimore MD

Baltimore Police Invoke Patriot Act to Arrest Reporter Recording False Arrest at Animal Rights Demo

After an animal rights protest with graphic images of force fed ducks calling for the boycott of 'SALT'-an upscale Baltimore restaurant serving 'foie gras', Baltimore cops handcuff a protester, and arrest a reporter filming the scene and an eye witness who protested their action…
PATRIOT ACT invoked by cop to forbid recording false arrest
PATRIOT ACT invoked by cop to forbid recording false arrest
PATRIOT ACT invoked by cop to forbid recording false arrest
Have you ever seen the liver of a force fed duck or goose? No? Maybe you tasted it? It is called 'foie gras'-fatty liver, a 'delicacy' served often at fancy restaurants and at many parties held for the holidays….

Well these birds and their liver are the source of much actions this season calling out the cruelty of the practice of force feeding them 'till their liver deteriorates.

Such an animal rights protest was held Saturday with graphic images of force fed ducks advocating the boycott of 'SALT'-an upscale Baltimore restaurant serving foie gras. The police were called and the chef claimed to be assaulted, protesters scattered, and police set a 10 block radius search area, trying to capture the so-called perpetrators…

The person described escaped. A.-a protester was scooped in an alley within the police net and arrested on suspicion of assault. He was told not to resist arrest as he was handcuffed, and was taken to the back of the cops vehicle…

Meanwhile, another person filming the arrest in the alley was told by a cop that under the PATRIOT ACT, it was illegal to film a cop. The arrested protester told us that "Robin Euler who was filming the scene in the alley was assaulted by the cops who grabbed her and pushed her against the brick wall and she hit her head". Euler was arrested and charged with the usual bogus 'police assault' nowadays slammed on reporters on duty.

Aaron Ross-another eye witness who questioned the cops actions, was also arrested and charged with resisting arrest-another favorite anti-protest charge.

The police released A. (the protester) and gave him a disburse order when the chef said he was not the person who so-called 'assaulted him'. A. (the protester) told us: "It is obviously false arrests. Baltimore police are notorious for this: there are currently 4 law suits against their department for police brutality and false arrests. People should call central booking and request the release of Robin Euler and Aaron Ross and demand that they be served vegan meals. This is not acceptable. We are here expressing our human rights to protect the animals while the police paid by our tax payers dollars are protecting the rich and the animal abusers."

Both the person filming the scene and the eyewitness were taken to central booking and are still in police custody as of Saturday night.

Related links


WSQT's interview with one of the arrestees:

Robin Helfritch-Euler's account, reposted from comment on dc.indy:
My name is Robin Helfritch-Euler, and I was one of the Humane League of Baltimore activists who were arrested at the Saturday, November 29th foie gras demo at Salt Restaurant in Baltimore. Here is my personal account of the arrests:

On Saturday, November 29, approximately 7:00 pm, I was falsely arrested for "filming police officers, which is illegal under the Patriot Act," according to the cop who arrested me. They were trying to take my boyfriend, Adam Ortberg, into custody to be (wrongly) identified as a protester who allegedly assaulted someone, and I was trying to film the impending confrontation and possible arrest with my camera phone. Adam was eventually released because he was identified as not being the person they were looking for, but both I and fellow activist, Aaron Ross, were arrested, taken to Central Booking in downtown Baltimore, and spent 4 hours in separate tiny, disgusting, holding cells after being completely humiliated, despite committing no crimes.

The night started as any other demonstration, with about ten or so of us standing quietly, not chanting due to the restaurant being in a residential area, holding signs depicting the cruel process of force feeding geese for foie gras. After about a half hour, the executive chef and one of the owners came out to tell us that we can't block the sidewalk. We told them that we are aware of this, that we are not blocking the sidewalk, and that we know the laws. The chef came down the steps, and with huge exaggeration, ran into the banner that Adam and I were holding, trying to make the ridiculous point that someone might run into it as they are walking. I told him he is assaulting us, since technically the banner is considered part of our body while we are holding it (I found out this information after a different demo where a woman assaulted me by pushing me and wrestling the sign out of my hands). The owner came down the steps and started yelling for us to get off her sidewalk (public property, by the way). She hit one of our signs, and I told her she just committed assault as well. Meanwhile, the chef was grabbing his crotch and shouting insults and obscenities at us. How classy. They both went back in the restaurant and called the cops, alleging that it was they who had actually been assaulted by protesters.

The cops showed up, about 8 or more of them, and basically acted as they always do, favoring the side of the rich, telling us we'd better behave ourselves, even though we never did anything wrong or unlawful. One of the cops that arrived at the scene I recognized as being at the Oceanaire the night two members of our group, the Humane League of Baltimore, were punched in the face by drunk patrons and two more were thrown to the ground by these same patrons. That night we had everything on videotape to show them, and the cops still did nothing. This night they went in to look at the undercover video that was taken from the camera attached to Salt's building, and came out saying they didn't see anything warranting arrest on the part of the chef or the restaurant owner. It figured.

After a little while of being fed up with the blatant favoritism the cops were showing the restaurant owners, Adam and I decided to head back to the car and leave the demo. We were almost there, but were headed off by cop cars while we were close to an alley. The cops got out, and told Adam to "come here" and directed him into the alleyway. I have no doubt that he would have been physically harmed if there were no eyewitnesses. These cops were already aggravated with him during the protest because he questioned them about a few things they had said. Apparently, questioning authority is now illegal, too? And one officer (the one who wound up arresting Aaron and I) even hinted at physically harming Adam during previous conversation with him.

I took out my camera phone and announced that I was going to film Adam's arrest to make sure his civil rights were not violated in any way. The one most aggressive cop, later identified as Officer L. Johnson, told me to stop filming or he would confiscate my camera, alleging it's "illegal to film an officer under the Patriot Act." He was flat out lying, and I told him it was NOT illegal, and if so, to recite to me the law, and he got really mad and said "I don't need to tell you shit." Then, with no formal arrest warning, he said "that's it, turn around and get your hands behind your back." I complied immediately, as I knew I'd probably be beaten or maced (as other friends have been) if I so much as paused for a second, but he still threw me up against the brick wall anyway, hitting my head into the wall in the process, and roughly put the cuffs on me. I told him he didn't need to be so rough, that I am not resisting in any way, I am a small woman, and that he didn't need to use excessive force on me. He answered me with "well then act like one!!" I asked him what I was being arrested for, and he says "you'll see it in your paperwork."

At that time, Aaron Ross came walking around the corner as the cop was leading me to the car, and he asked what they are arresting me for. The arresting cop says "for filming an officer, it's illegal under the Patriot Act." Aaron told him that it is in fact NOT illegal, and that if he arrests me there will be a lawsuit. The officer said to him "what did you say?" Aaron repeated himself, that if I was arrested there would be a lawsuit. The officer then jumped on Aaron, threw him against the building and arrested him, too. Aaron asked why he was being arrested, and the officer told him it was for "talkin' shit." While Aaron and I were sitting in separate cop cars, Adam asked the officer what Aaron and I were being charged with, and the cop says "resisting" (me) and "interfering" (Aaron). What happened to "filming an officer" and "talkin' shit"? And the funny thing is, when we were released, our papers (which we were only allowed to glance at, not get copies) both said "hindering."

While I was waiting to be taken to booking, I asked the officer several more times what I was being arrested for, and he continued to say that it would be in my paperwork. I said to him that I knew I'd be released with no charges because I didn't break any laws, and he said "you know what, you're probably right, but it's all about putting the inconvenience on you." I told him I was going to sue him for false arrest, and he says "go for it, the last person who did only got $500." Apparently, he has been sued before for previous similar behavior, gotten off practically scott free, and was very pleased with himself about it. I told him that he was abusing his power and authority and bending the law with his badge. He said to me "you need to learn to keep your mouth shut, you think you can say and do whatever you want." and I said "yes, I am an American, and it's my first amendment right to say what I want to say and to question people who are abusing their power to protect the rich." He brought up the fact that I was protecting my friend down the alleyway. As if my being there with a camera to film officers' behavior and make sure my boyfriend's rights were not violated was the same as he and his henchman bending the rules and bypassing the Constitution to keep us from protesting foie gras at a fancy restaurant where only the rich can afford to dine.

At central booking, the women who searched my bag and belongings told me they liked some of my makeup and were going to keep it. They kept trying to antagonize me, asking if I had any "Mac" or "Sephora" (because they wanted to keep it) and that they were disappointed I only had "cheap Rite-aid" type makeup. I was asked if I had any medical conditions. I told them I have panic attacks under stress, and that I have a severe herniated disc in my back and cannot sit or stand still for extended periods of time. They laughingly told me "well you'd better get up and do some jumping jacks in your cell then, 'cause you're going to be in there a long while." My blood pressure was taken and it was alarmingly high due to the stress. They took it a second time, and it hadn't gone down. They said they'd come and check it again in an hour, and if it was still high they'd give medication, but they never came back to check on me.

I was fingerprinted and photographed at the jail, made to strip, and "squat and cough" with my pants down, and basically just completely humiliated. I was released after 4 hours (which is record time for central booking) with no charges, no paperwork, missing my $500 earrings that were taken but not returned, a horribly sore back, awful headache (from hitting my head on the brick wall I was thrown against), and to top it off, the arresting officer, L. Johnson, didn't even put his name on my arrest sheet. They wouldn't give me copies of any paperwork, and would not tell me how I could obtain any copies, either. It was as if I hadn't even been there, the property sheet that I was given a copy of when I got there was the only proof I left with. The man who took me into the area to get my belongings told me I "should keep my mouth shut from now on and not question the police while they're trying to do their job. That if I keep on doing it I will keep on winding up in central booking." I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Basically, shut your mouth, look the other way, don't question authority, or this is what you will get - punishment and humiliation for committing NO CRIME.

On a side note, I can't believe what a double standard it is. When activists are attacked by restaurant and fur shop owners and patrons, the cops do absolutely nothing, even when we have the assaults on videotape. I have been assaulted numerous time, even been choked by a man twice my size and had bruises, photos, and eye-witnesses to prove it, and the cops did nothing. The Baltimore City Police act as though because we are protesting (which is our civil right), we deserve anything we get. They've even stated this to us, in no uncertain terms. It's NOT RIGHT!!! And this is not the first time arrests like this happened. We have six other civil cases against the police going right now, for similar instances, in just our group small alone.

I plan on filing a civil suit against the arresting officer and the BCPD, and so does Aaron. I know it will take a long time, probably years, but I don't care. They messed with the wrong person, in the wrong group. We will not back down or give up against injustice. Activists need to fight back against corrupt cops who break the rules and bend the laws to protect rich profiteers of animal abuse from LEGAL activists expressing their first amendment rights. One of the many flippant statements made by the police officers on Saturday night was "I don't give a shit about the first amendment!" This absolutely shows just how above the law these police officers believe they are. The more people that take legal action against these corrupt cops, the less likely they will be to keep thinking they can break the rules and abuse their power. Baltimore City cops are notorious for this kind of behavior, and for much worse. It will only be a matter of time before an activist is beaten so badly that he or she is killed during one of these false arrests. They need to be stopped before it’s too late.

— Robin N. Helfritch (Euler)

For more information on foie gras, and why we protest the production and sale of it, visit or For a list of restaurants in Baltimore that are currently still serving it, visit

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