Criminalizing Dissent at the University of Florida

The Odyssey of a Political Prisoner

On Friday, July 13, 2012, I looked into the face of evil. It was the third time in 6 months that the vivisection-state complex had ambushed me, slapped handcuffs around my wrists, and threw me into a cell. As I was led from the courtroom after having had a $500,000 bond placed on my head, my eyes met those of the sadistic dog-murdering vivisector from Wayne State University (WSU). Having accomplished his mission for the vivisectors at the University of Florida (UF), he smiled into my face with a sickening ghoulish grin I’ll never forget. I stared right back at him and returned his smile thinking I’ve only just begun to fight.

Two years earlier, I had initiated a campaign to expose the nonhuman primate experimentation industry at UF. I discovered that they were receiving millions of dollars in taxpayer-funded federal annuities for animal experiments that were being conducted elsewhere. To this day, and unbeknownst to taxpayers, it remains unclear how many institutions may be reaping a windfall of grants from a single experiment.

UF has built a granite wall around their vivisection business to deter all public scrutiny. And they actively refused to comply with Florida state laws and turn over to me public records documenting their nonhuman primate “research.” I sued them and won my first lawsuit against them on December 30, 2011. I began publishing the information and gained tremendous community support for the monkeys. At that moment, I became a threat to their bottom line. And, along with assistance from WSU, they manipulated the system to put me behind bars and get me out of the state.

First, notorious UF monkey vivisector Raymond Joseph Bergeron swore under oath that I threatened to burn down his house “with me and my wife in it.” I never contacted him in any form. This was probably the most outrageous tactic used to date by UF to distract the public from their mercenary monkey murder business.

Then I was arrested for the first time in my life at an anti-vivisection demo outside UF on February 4, 2012. I believe that if one tortures animals to death for money, then they should be identified publicly. And I consider it both a privilege and a public service to be able to do so on one of my websites. Unfortunately, I left myself vulnerable when the dog-murdering ghoul from Detroit sought out an injunction to have his public information removed from my site. I am proud of my actions and apologize for nothing. This injunction out of Michigan, however, served as the vehicle through which the vivisectors sought to neutralize my campaign in Florida.

Although the sum total of my life of crime amounts to one act of nonviolent civil disobedience and collecting a few First Amendment-violating injunctions, I was ultimately charged with two felonies and faced 10 years in prison. One of those felonies related solely to allowing my former colleague’s work to be published on my site. I still believe it was Constitutionally-protected free speech, but, in the eleventh hour while I was in jail, Steve Best decided he did not want to testify. Rather, he took out an injunction as well and then sought to help the vivisectors put me in prison. And the activists who should have been fighting the vivisectors were now helping them try to eliminate me. It was extremely disturbing.

I mention this disgusting episode for one reason alone: when activists work against one another, they are promoting the interests of the abusers and the ONLY ones that are being damaged even further are the animals.

I never implicated anyone in court, I pleaded guilty to publishing my former friend’s work, and I went to jail with my head held high.

And after 6 arrests, 2 grueling extraditions, 1 FDLE raid on my home, 3 months on house arrest, 8 months in jail, and another 7 months banned from the internet, my probation was finally terminated on January 17, 2014. And I’m extremely proud that while I was still behind bars, I won my second lawsuit against UF in February 2013. The location of their vivisection labs is now ruled public information in Florida.

With all this hard-earned experience behind me, my resolve to get the monkeys out of their prison has never been stronger and my focus never so precise. Everything that has happened to me in the last two years never fazed me. But it was a damning distraction for the animals enslaved in UF’s dungeons,

According to their own lab techs inside, there are an estimated 10,000 animals being tortured to death for money at any given moment. Over 4/5 of those sentient beings are not even considered “animals” under “federal guidelines” – the vivisectors’ prized propaganda mantra. One of those beings was a monkey named Bucky that was being driven insane inside his cell before my incarcerations. We tried to wage a campaign to get him freed to a sanctuary, but activists were scared away from the campaign after watching my repeated arrests. Bucky was exterminated and incinerated in 2012. I failed him.

So now I am obligated to fight even more vehemently for the survivors.

While I was still on probation, my colleague, Karen Kline, filed a third lawsuit against UF for still refusing to disclose the current details of their monkey experiments despite court orders. Once filed, the university chose not to be dragged back into court and conceded. Based upon those records, two federal complaints have been filed thus far which document the incompetence and negligence which is enshrouded within a seemingly-endemic culture of corruption.

We know there were 25 monkeys inside their walls being poisoned, blinded, maimed, turned into drug addicts, and driven insane for profit last year, at least 6 of whom were executed over the summer, had their little brains extracted from their skulls, and their deteriorated bodies were unceremoniously incinerated.

When my case is examined in its totality, it is abundantly clear that the threat the University of Florida sought to eliminate was exposure. I now know what works and what doesn’t work, what information I need, how to get it, and how to use it, and I am going nowhere until the nonhuman primate experimentation business inside of UF is shut down once and for all.

Camille Marino is an animal liberation activist and former political prisoner for the cause. Her first book ironically-titled Danger to Society chronicles her experience waging a war to expose taxpayer-funded animal experimentation at the University of Florida and her odyssey through the American System of Injustice. After 6 arrests, 2 extraditions, one raid on her home, 3 months on house arrest, 8 months in jail, and over 7 months banned from the internet, she is now free and remains unapologetic and unrepentant in her fight for Animal Liberation. Camille is the Founder and Executive Director of Eleventh Hour for Animals. Read other articles by Camille, or visit Camille's website.