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Bear hunt protester pleads not guilty


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Bear hunt protester pleads not guilty

 

Posted: Feb 28, 2014 12:18 AM EST

Updated: Feb 28, 2014 12:18 AM EST

 

Photo by Daniel Freel/New Jersey Herald William Crain, an activist opposed to the New Jersey state black bear hunt who was arrested in December for leaving the designated protesting area in Fredon, waits for his matter to be called in court.

 

By ROB JENNINGS

 

[email protected]

 

ANDOVER TWP. — The New York City college professor arrested while protesting the last five New Jersey bear hunts pleaded not guilty Thursday night to two disorderly persons offenses stemming from his Dec. 9 arrest.

 

The case against William Crain, 70, of Dutchess County, N.Y., an animal rights activist and longtime practitioner of civil disobedience, was transferred last month from Green Municipal Court at his attorney’s request.

 

Crain, joined by his lawyer, Daniel Perez, softly entered his not-guilty plea in a 6:30 p.m. appearance before Judge James Devine.

 

The circumstances surrounding Crain’s latest arrest are not in dispute.

 

Crain has acknowledged that in stepping past a rope authorities used to cordon off protesters in Fredon outside the Whittingham Wildlife Management Area, he intended to get arrested.

 

“I was disobeying a government operation that was promoting and enforcing a very immoral act, which is the killing of bears,” Crain, a City College of New York psychology professor, said afterward in an interview.

 

“I made it very clear on the tape what I was doing,” Crain said, referring to a video that captured the entire encounter with authorities.

 

Though Crain’s bear hunt protest arrests in 2005, 2010, 2011 and 2012 were resolved with fines, he is facing up to six months in jail on one count of obstructing the administration of law and one count of recklessly creating a hazardous or physically dangerous condition.

 

Devine, in outlining the possible penalties, told Crain he also faces up to a $1,000 fine on each count.

 

Perez, in an interview after the brief hearing, said discussions aimed at resolving the case are under way with Prosecutor Anthony Arbore.

 

“My hope is we’ll be able to resolve this case without the need for a trial,” Perez said.

 

“There’s no question about what happened here. The only question, in my mind, is going to be the sentence,” Perez said.

 

The prosecutor in Green, last spring, sought a 10-day jail sentence after Judge Craig Dana convicted Crain of obstructing governmental administration during the 2012 hunt. Crain had maintained that he actually did not intend to break the law in 2012 and was simply walking along the side of the road near the bear check station.

 

Though Dana did not sentence Crain to jail, he ordered 10 days of community service — a punishment later overturned in Superior Court, though Crain’s $1,000 fine was upheld.

 

Perez, following Crain’s Dec. 9 arrest, asked Dana to step aside from the case. Dana, in convicting Crain last spring, had referred to reading about his prior arrests in the newspaper.

 

Dana subsequently signed an order transferring the case to Andover Township.

 

Four of Crain’s supporters — Deborah Lucas, Jerry Mandel, Angi Metler and Harry Dunleavy — showed up for Thursday’s hearing.

 

Crain was the only protester arrested during the 2013 hunt.

 

A total of 251 bears were killed in the six-day New Jersey bear hunt, the state Department of Environmental Protection said.

 

Much of the hunt, as in prior years, was in Sussex County, where 155 bears were killed.

 

The 2013 hunt was the fourth in a row and sixth overall since 2003, when bear hunting resumed in New Jersey after a 33-year moratorium.

 

 

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I barely avoided this nut job back in 2010.  I was in line to check my bear at Whittingham WMA and I was watching him behind the orange plastic fence yelling at those of us in line waiting to check our bears.  The Division did a great job of keeping the protesters from seeing the actual check-ins and keeping them fairly far away from the hunters.  He just decided to run towards me and I tapped the throttle because there was a bunch of room between my truck and the one in front of me, so he turned left and ran up to the truck behind me that wasn't paying as close attention to him and he started screaming "cub killer" in their faces for about 3 seconds until the CO and State Police had him cuffed 'n stuffed in the back of a cruiser  :)

 

I laughed my butt off at how quickly they had him cuffed and in the car so the press couldn't get much footage.  Always wanted to ask him publicly if he's ever protested any of the annual NY bear hunts as he lives in that state.......    

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