Staff Writer and Website Editor, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine; Former crew member, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society; Former spokesperson, Animal Rights Direct Action CoalitionPatrick Sullivan’s primary qualification to work at PCRM is his extensive history of animal-rights activism — including a stint with “Captain” Paul Watson’s violent Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and an arrest for vandalizing a medical laboratory.
Sullivan’s rap sheet begins with a 1991 collar for interfering with an annual pigeon-shoot in Pennsylvania. After posting bail he told reporters he objected to the sport so much it was worth “almost anything to stop it.” Along with his eventual wife, Lauren Ornelas, he was also arrested in 1998 at a protest targeting medical research laboratories in Berkeley, California. (Ornelas was then a campaign leader with In Defense of Animals. She now runs VIVA! USA, another animal rights group.) In April 1999, the two were charged with felony burglary and conspiracy, in connection with a break-in and vandalism spree inside UC San Francisco animal research laboratories. Ironically, one of those labs was studying alternatives to animal testing. A school official said “months” of research was lost.
The Berkeley protest is a useful illustration of the tight-knit radical community in which Sullivan and Ornelas move. While they distracted police, fellow activist Michael Kennedy scaled a campus tower. IDA’s Josh Trenter (already a veteran activist with battery and felony vandalism charges on his rap sheet) acted as a spokesperson for the group. Kennedy and Trenter would both turn up later in FBI records regarding the investigation of animal-rights-related bomb blasts that rocked two California companies in 2003.
In September 1999 Sullivan acted as spokesman for a fringe group calling itself the Animal Rights Direct Action Coalition, after group founder Gina Lynn was arrested for defying a Grand Jury subpoena. At the time, Lynn was also the editor of No Compromise magazine, which describes itself as a publication for “Animal Liberation Front supporters.” Following the 2000 arson of a Seattle timber company, the FBI identified Lynn and Trenter exiting a rental van and throwing bags of clothes and ski masks into a dumpster. Video footage, say the feds, also shows that the van was rented by the wife of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society founder Paul Watson.
The circle comes back to Sullivan, who (in 2002, prior to joining PCRM’s staff) honed his “direct action” skills as a member of Watson’s ship-sinking crew. Like Sullivan’s current employer, Sea Shepherd isn’t much concerned with human health. Its crews carry AK-47s, its boats are built with concrete-filled bows made for ramming, and one ship features an attachment dubbed the “can opener,” designed to tear open a boat’s hull.