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Re: BU Represses Biolab Activists
17 May 2006
The following is a letter sent to my parents and carbon-copied to me by Joseph Mercurio, the Executive Vice President of Boston University,
followed by my response. If you have any questions, please contact
me. Feel free to publish my letter, and feel free to publish the letter that Mr. Mercurio sent to my parents.
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Lee:
I am writing to advise you of a serious matter that has been
developing at Boston University over the last few months. It involves
unwarranted, inappropriate and, in some cases, illegal activity by a
group of young people, one of whom has been identified as Micah Forest
Over the last several months this group of young people, including
Micah Forest Lee, has been engaging in a campaign of disruption and
self-promotion. This campaign also includes a concerted effort to
misinform the Boston University and Great Boston communities. Their
activities include interrupting campus lectures and tours, disrupting
residential neighborhoods with late evening, noisy rallies, and,
generally, disseminating false and inflammatory rhetoric both in
person and on web sites. (See, for example,
http://operationover.freeyouth.net/). This has all been done while
simultaneously contacting various media groups in an effort to gain as
much publicity as possible and to inform both the general public and
the Boston University community about important medical research
Most recently, on Thursday, April 19, 2006, seven members of this
group, including Micah Forest Lee, invaded the office of Boston
University's president and attempted a "takeover" of that office.
Specifically, Micah Forest Lee and others disrupted a private meeting
and directed the president of Boston University and members of his
staff to leave the premises (which they refused to do). I spoke with
these young people and informed them that they would be given a few
minutes to leave the premises voluntarily or face arrest and
prosecution for trespassing. After initially refusing to leave, they
decided to depart voluntarily following a few minutes of discussion
The Boston University Police have been fully apprised of these
activities, and City of Boston Police have also been informed. The
participants in these disruptive activities have been advised that,
indefinitely, they are not to enter any Boston University property.
If they do so they will be arrested, removed from the premises, and
prosecuted for criminal trespass under the law.
Micah Forest Lee has apparently chosen to knowingly participate in a
deliberate campaign of misinformation about Boston University's
ethical and legal research activities in the field of infectious
diseases, where responsible physicians and researchers seek cures to
virulent diseases that have thus far eluded the international
community. This research is being conducted under the auspices of the
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases – one of the
National Institutes of Health. It is not in any way part of some
"conspiracy" or "bioweapons" effort, as these young people keep
repeating during their elaborately staged and scripted activities.
The University has made a great deal of information available to the
public regarding these research activities (see, for example,
http://www.bu.edu/dbin/nbl/Actual/index.php) and has held over two
hundred public hearings in various community, city, state, and federal
regulatory forums. Thus, there is simply no bases – or excuse – for
the deliberate campaign of misinformation and disruption that is being
conducted by Micah Forest Lee and others.
I have enclosed a summary of commonly asked questions for your review.
If you have any questions or would like any further information,
please feel free to contact me.
Joseph P. Mercurio
cc: Micah Forest Lee
Dear Mr. Mercurio:
I am writing to advice you of a serious matter that has been
developing in Boston over the last few years. It involves
unwarranted, inappropriate, immature and, in the case if existing
Boston Public Health Commission regulations, illegal activity by a
group of administrators of Boston University, one of whom is you,
Joseph P. Mercurio.
Instead of mailing this letter to your parents, like you did mine, I
have the decency to mail it directly to you and carbon-copy it to
journalists at the Boston Globe, the Boston Herald, the Boston Metro,
the Boston Phoenix, Boston Indymedia, and Democracy Now!, to "advise
them of a serious matter that has been developing at Boston
University" over the last few years.
You and Boston University have been trying to build a BSL-4 lab, the
most dangerous kind of biological research lab in the world, in the
poorest minority neighborhood in Boston without any sort of community
oversight, and without even asking permission from the people that
would be most affected by it. You have been waging a disinformation
campaign against the people of the South End and Roxbury, and the
greater Boston community, to support this lab. One of the tactics you
have chosen to use to spread this disinformation is holding public
forums that you stack with biolab supporters beforehand, and that
refuse to address any real issues. The biolab will be partially
funded with BU tuition money, yet you give no democratic
decision-making power to the student body who is giving this money.
And you have been supporting the political repression of a group of
young concerned citizens of Boston and students at BU. Your parents
would be ashamed.
Fortunately my parents, and the parents of everyone else you wrote
letters to, are smart people and they recognize your letters for what
they are: political repression and propaganda. I understand that you
have money and power on your side. Since BU is one of the most
corrupt and undemocratic universities in the Boston area, I recognize
that you will stop at nothing to squelch this grassroots campaign
against your biolab. Your scare tactics (following us in black cars
and taking pictures of us; attempting to start conflicts between
ourselves and our parents; and everything else you have been trying)
will not work on me or any of my friends.
I would like you to know that as a leader of BU, an institution of
higher learning, you are a disgrace. You live in a $4.1 million brick
house; you own $150 thousand in Century Bank stock; you are one of the
wealthiest people in the Boston area; yet you spend your time
supporting a biological weapons lab that will be built in an area
where most people are approaching the poverty line. When they tell
you their concerns, you launch a well-funded public relations campaign
against them. When young people from all around Boston start
organizing against this biolab, you repress them, suspend them, arrest
them, and do whatever else is in your power to prevent them from
stopping your plans.
Please respond. I would like to hear an honest defense of your
behavior. BU's public relations campaign has been nothing but lies
and propaganda with easily defeated but well publicized arguments. I
would like to hear what you have to say.