The airborne animal rights protester pled not guilty to burglary and trespassing charges in Hennepin County District Court on Monday.
Matt Bullard, 24, was charged with fourth-degree burglary and criminal trespassing Sunday after he had spent six days hanging from Moos Tower in a makeshift tent.
Authorities released the activist from Hennepin County Jail without making him post bail Monday evening. Bail had been set at $7,500 on Sunday.
Bullard’s next court appearance is scheduled for Sept. 21. He will be represented by a Hennepin County public defender.
Cres Vellucci, a legal aide who consulted with Bullard during the activist’s first night in jail, said the large bail and excessive charges are a scare tactic commonly used by prosecutors to deter public protest.
“We informed him that the bail was absurd,” Vellucci said, who works for the Activist Civil Liberties Committee based in Sacramento, Calif.
A press release sent out by the Student Organization for Animal Rights said Bullard was protesting the treatment of primates by Marilyn Carroll, a University psychiatry professor.
Carroll said the activists’ means of protest are counterproductive.
“They don’t care about the animals,” Carroll said.
Last spring, members of the Animal Liberation Front broke into University labs and released more than 100 rodents, salamanders and pigeons.
“What they’re saying is different from what they’re doing,” Carroll said, adding that animals froze to death after the ALF left them next to roadways in Woodbury.
The cost of Bullard’s protest is considerable, University Police said. The officers who monitored the activist around the clock were paid overtime. SOAR scheduled events to coincide with Bullard’s protest at Moos Tower, although he does not affiliate with the student group or the University.
In other police news:
ù University Police are keeping a closer watch on drinking behavior around the University at the beginning of this semester. Of 17 arrests made last week, nearly half were drinking related, according to University Police reports.
Anyone who is caught drinking alcohol under the legal drinking age will be issued a citation, said University Police detective Charles Miner.
University Police said they focus on combatting underage drinking all year, but pay closer attention to the residence halls the first few weeks of the semester, Miner said.
He said officers typically notice a high level of student drinking at the beginning and end of an academic term.
ù During the first week of the semester, $1,930 in non-University property was reported stolen. Bicycles account for most of that sum, according to University Police reports.
In order to deter bike theft, Miner said owners can register their bikes with University Police. The licensing system can be accessed over the entire state.
“Many bikes stolen are not even locked up, believe it or not,” Miner said.
Registering a bicycle cost $10 and lasts three years, Miner said.
— Staff reporter Craig Gustafson contributed to this report.
Benjamin Ganje covers police and welcomes comments at [email protected] He also can be reached at 627-4070 x3225.