Firemen assist protester’s descent

Craig Gustafson

Members of the Minneapolis Fire Department grappled down Moos Tower on Sunday afternoon and helped a protester end his six-day protest of the University’s animal research.
Matt Bullard, a Minneapolis resident and animal rights activist, was immediately examined by Hennepin County emergency medical technicians and charged with fourth-degree burglary and criminal trespassing.
He is being held at Hennepin County Jail on $7,500 bail.
Bullard began his protest Tuesday by hanging himself from the 20-story building with safety cables.
University Police Chief George Aylward said Bullard asked to come down around 10 a.m., shouting to a security camera that was set up to watch him.
“Matt decided to come down because of the weather,” said Brandon Noard, a member of the Student Organization for Animal Rights. “He was soaking wet and shaking pretty badly.”
Supporters from SOAR were on hand. Bullard is not affiliated with the organization.
Several members of the fire department used full-body harnesses and a method called “pick-off” to retrieve Bullard.
They grappled down next to Bullard, hooked their harness into his and lowered the protester down.
All that remained of Bullard’s protest were the words “End animal torture now,” which he scrawled onto the building’s wall.
Ulie Seal, assistant fire chief, said Bullard seemed alert and orientated. “He was real cooperative,” he said.
Seal said he was not impressed with the equipment Bullard was using.
“I’d have never done that,” he said. “Not in a million years.”
Two tiny pieces of webbing and aluminum equipment were all that kept Bullard from plummeting to the ground, Seal said. The fire department uses stainless steel and thicker ropes.
Once Bullard was inside the building he was examined by EMTs, declared in good health and handed over to University Police.
“I’m just glad he’s down safely,” said Frank Cerra, senior vice president of the Academic Health Center. “I’m a strong supporter of lawful freedom of expression … but people hanging off a 20-story building is not a good thing.”
The cost of the operation was not disclosed, though several officials stated it would be expensive.
“We took two rigs out of service,” Seal said. “We could have been helping someone else instead.”

Craig Gustafson covers the Medical School and welcomes comments at [email protected] He can also be reached at (612) 627-4070 x3233.