Goldman Sachs Sues to Stop D.C. Protests Against Huntingdon Life Sciences Judge puts an end to shouting on the sidewalk outside a bank lobbyist's home.

Man Bites Bank: Weber and Ortberg protested the home of a Goldman Sachs employee over animal testing.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery

On Nov. 24, activist Adam Ortberg, 29, sat across from two dark-suited lawyers representing banking giant Goldman Sachs. Just two days before, the two attorneys had carted towers of paper into the civil branch of D.C. Superior Court. In the most extensive filing some there had ever seen, the piles of paper presented Ortberg as a victimizer.

The grim lawyers wanted a temporary restraining order against him, his co-defendant Michael Weber, 24, and the organization they’re part of. Though Ortberg is a pretty big guy, neither he nor Weber exactly fit the bill of a dangerous stalker. Shaggy and soft-spoken, both give off the vibe of being the kind of process-loving progressives who, whenever they get a chance, suggest everyone “circle up.” But there they were, in the chambers of Judge Curtis E. von Kann, learning why one of the most powerful financial entities in the world, along with one of its lobbyists, Michael Paese, was now terrified of them.

A former top aide to Rep. Barney Frank, Paese was helping the Massachusetts Democrat crack down on Wall Street—via the House Financial Services Com mittee—for causing the country’s financial meltdown, before he defected to the other side in 2009. The abandonment pissed Frank off; Paese was barred from lobbying the committee for two years instead of the standard one-year “cooling-off period.” After taking his new, more lucrative position at Goldman, Paese ran into trouble from Ortberg, Weber, and their group. “They scare him,” lawyer William D. Nussbaum, flanked by lawyer Douglas Crosno, told the judge. “We know what th ey’ve done in other places. Exploding things, harming people...”

Goldman Sachs, of course, is at the center of a lot of controversies these days. It paid billions in bonuses last year, after racking up record profits, and the firm’s come under fire since the financial collapse wrecked the economy in 2008. But what raised Ortberg and Weber’s ire had nothing to do with collateralized mortgages or Wall Street titans. The group they belong to is called the Defenders of Animal Rights Today and Tomorrow. And they’re angry at Goldman, and at Paese, because of puppies.

On Halloween, at about 8 p.m., DARTT was hard at work outside of Paese’s home in the 1600 block of 19th Street NW. A dozen or so members showed up dressed in masks and lab coats. They chanted, and held up signs, and told everyone within earshot that Paese was psychotic. “Michael Pease, your neighbor, is a puppy-killing scumbag!” a protester yelled through a megaphone.

Which isn’t to say that DARTT actually thought Paese was inside torturing dogs. (“Mr. Paese has a dog, it’s a beautiful dog,” Nussbaum, would later tell von Kann. “He loves the dog. I’ve met the dog. And the dog would be appalled to know what’s being said about Mr. Paese.”) Goldman Sachs got mixed up in an animal rights protest through a complicated chain that starts with Huntingdon Life Sciences.

In the 1990s, the British company came under fire for videos of its employees abusing animals, beyond even the typical horror movie set-up that’s required to conduct animal research. HLS promised reforms. But the allegations persisted. When a list of the company’s stockholders was published in the UK, stock prices tanked. HLS eventually fled to the New York Stock Exchange. Still, stock prices remained dismally low, and HLS might have gone under except for a few strong-stomached investors and lenders.

According to DARTT, one of the lenders that helped HLS hold on is Fortress Investment Group, a ballsy New York investment firm that’s made and lost billions since it was founded in 1998. Ortberg says in an e-mail that his organization has discovered Fortress lends money to HLS “through a series of shell companies.” For instance, there’s a front company in Luxembourg called Anchor Sub Funding, he says. Fortress uses it to route money “presumably to stop HLS’ horrific record of cruelty, violence and law breaking from tarnishing Fortress’ reputation,” Ortberg writes.

DARTT says Goldman owns shares in Fortress, but Goldman denies it, and spokesman David Wells says there’s “no direct connection” between the bank and HLS. A search of a Securities and Exchange Commission database doesn’t turn up any sign that Goldman has an ownership stake in Fortress, either. Still, to DARTT, Paese is public enemy No. 1—at least for an animal rights group that operates locally. Neither Fortress nor HLS has any employees in D.C., so when DARTT wanted to protest HLS, it went after Goldman.

According to Paese’s lawyers, DARTT’s attempt to pressure Goldman has been a nightmare. DARTT has descended on Paese’s home five times to accuse him of animal abuse. “Those demonstrations—which defendants euphemistically call ‘home visits’—are extremely loud, disorderly and intimidating,” Paese’s lawyers wrote in court papers. There were threats: “We know where you sleep,” demonstrators chanted.

The protests wound up causing a scene on Paese’s block, just north of Dupont Circle. A neighbor, who spoke on condition of anonymity (he says Paese isn’t the most friendly person in the world, and he doesn’t want to make trouble), recalls seeing a Metropolitan Police Department patrol car parked outside after the Halloween incident. He says he approached the cops and asked what the deal was. They told him Goldman was footing the bill for round-the-clock MPD security. Another neighbor resorted to donning a pair of headphones typically used on firing ranges during the demonstrations, lawyers told the court. Yet another was forced to lock himself in his home with his two frightened beagles. (“No small irony there,” the lawyers quipped.)

If that wasn’t gnarly enough, the noise also disturbed a nearby cancer sufferer. DARTT protesters were told about the ill resident, but Paese’s lawyers say they didn’t care. When one neighbor confronted the activists about disturbing the healing quiet of the neighborhood, the complainer just got an ear full of megaphone, the lawyers say. From Ortberg’s perspective, though, at those demonstrations, Paese’s neighbors were causing the real ruckus: One Paese supporter bumped a demonstrator with his car, Ortberg recalls. Video taken by DARTT at the Halloween protest shows the rowdiness goes both ways. At one point, a tall, broad-shouldered resident was inches from the face of a protester, cupped his hands, and let loose with, “Shut the fuck up!” A while later, he got in the face of some female protesters and called them “cunts.”

Ultimately, the saga’s ending may not surprise anyone who’s watched Goldman Sachs play hardball to get its way over the past few years. Though DARTT lawyer Jeffrey Light argued that the lawsuit wa s “a free speech case,” von Kann sided with Paese.

In a temporary restraining order handed down the day of the hearing, the judge barred DARTT from coming any closer than 100 feet away from Paese’s house—or any other house where Goldman Sachs employees live. “Defendants have repeatedly subjected plaintiffs and their neighbors to extremely loud, unruly, threatening, harassing, obstructive, and in some instances frightening protests and demonstrations that have unreasonably and substantially interfered with plaintiff’s ability to use and enjoy their property,” von Kann wrote. Between 6 p.m. and 9 a.m., the buffer zone expands to 150 feet. Demonstrators also have to stay 50 feet away from any Goldman offices. At a hearing set for December 10, von Kann will begin hearing arguments on whether to keep the order in place. DARTT says they’ll fight it.

That won’t be the only fallout from the episode. Legislation by Ward 3 D.C. Councilmember Mary Cheh would curtail DARTT’s home visits even more, by forbidding nighttime demonstrations in front of private homes, banning protesters from wearing masks while demonstrating in front of homes, and requiring protesters who plan to target houses to notify MPD two hours in advance. Cops could make a warrantless arrest if protesters seem to be violating any of those rules.

The bill already passed a first reading; a committee report on the legislation makes clear it was aimed at DARTT, mentioning “a small group of animal rights activists.” Ortberg says there’s an easier way to end all the protests: Negotiation, and, ultimately, divestment from companies involved in animal research. DARTT has tried to set up a meeting with Paese, but Ortberg says the lobbyist hasn’t responded to phone calls or letters. Until he does, there’s no chance of DARTT letting up, except if the authorities step in. “DARTT is committed to exposing those who participate in animal torture,” says Ortberg.

Our Readers Say


If Goldman Sachs lie about their shareholding in Fortress Investment Group, what else are they lying about?

Goldman Sachs has 1,032,244 shares in Fortress as of 09/30/2010: (second page, 6 lines down.

They used to have many more shares than that until they sold 2/3 of their shares in Fortress...
C'mon, c'mon. SHAC ("Stop Huntington Animal Cruelty") has a long history of harassing executives of organizations undertaking the perfectly legal basic research that cures cancer and provides the basis for understanding the effects of various surfactants in shampoo products on human vision. It thinks it can interfere in the private life and personal security of anyone it wants to paint an X on. If that activity has 1st Amendment protection, so does stalking and sexual harassment. The sympathetic, ironic tone of this item suggests SHAC now has a plant at the City Paper.
It's pretty clear that what DARTT is engaged in goes well beyond what should be tolerated as free speech, it's thinly veiled harassment IMHO. DARTT are not interested in changing peoples mind, just in bullying their "targets" until they surrender. Neil ward is right to point out that SHAC have a long record of criminal behavior, several of their members, and members of associated animal rights groups, have been jailed for violence and blackmail in the UK. The night-time activities of DARTT remind me more of those of far right anti-abortion groups than of a progressive organization.

Why should Goldman Sachs or any other group agree to talks with DARTT? The majority in the US supports animal research, and with very good reason since it has played a vital role in most of the medical advances in the past few decades, and is still playing a vital role in new fields such as stem cell and regenerative medicine, gene therapy and nanotech drug delivery.

Should all activist groups who use stalking and harassment to further their cause be rewarded with discussions? Would the Washington City Paper suggest that abortion providers negotiate with anti-abortion extremists who picket clinics and harass doctors in their homes?

I applaud von Kann's ruling, and wish Mary Cheh every success in her efforts to restore some civility to public discourse.

It takes a lot to make me to support the likes of Goldman Sachs, but this article obliges me to do so.
How much money has Mary Cheh received from either Goldman Sachs or Paese directly? This legislation seems a bit dubious, and really close to the line of violating free speech if not well over the line. Are the resulting legal fees the District will have to pay in defending the likely challenges to law the will no doubt be filed the very first time the law is enforced? Why are currently disorderly conduct laws not sufficient to handle this?
Are people that ignornant? What did they not understand about VIDEO of horrific anical cruelty exposed? Does animal cruelty stop during 6pm to 9am? A right to free speech means a right to protest. If Goldman wants some peace let him go sleep in the jungles of Africa. Animal abuse is under crossfire as it should be and we will not stop just because some people would rather sit in front of their cozy fireplaces and pretend it doesn't exist. As far as I'm concerned the neighbors should be out there protesting in order to get him to leave the nighborhood. Who the hell wants an animal torturer for a neighbor? Get off your lazy asses and help stop the abuse ... then you can go back to your fireplaces.
Free speech? Really?

Who are these activists educating about their cause at night, at someone's private home, wearing masks, and screaming obscenities? There is no public to address. This is no free speech issue here. It is all about intimidation, harassment and threats. "We know where you sleep at night"?! Is that an explanation for these people's position on animal research?

Good move by the judge and the city council. Must be replicated everywhere across the country.
Aren't the activists' activities turning people off to their cause rather than advancing it?
SHAC and DARTT are two very separate organizations. DARTT has made it clear time and time and time again it is not SHAC. SHAC no longer exists except maybe in the U.K. and since DARTT is an American group only I don't see how a connection between a U.S. group and a group in the U.K are so closely tied. Plus standing up against a company that abuses and murders animals does not mean you are part of the same group. If that were the case then you could make that exact case in every other situation where two different groups are fighting against the same thing.

Regardless though what is going on at HLS is wrong in any situation. Workers coming in on hard drugs punching beagle puppies in the face and dissecting animals while they are still alive and conscious not even with any anesthetic is wrong by any standards. If you have a company that tolerates hard drug use and abuse of animals that violates even the stringent animal "welfare" laws that barely protect animals at all then there is something wrong with you. Not too mention the fact they are in debt and cannot get on the stock exchange or get a bank account and have had to change their name or come up with new names so they could sneak around and do business. The company is very shady, looking more like a Mafia type operation than a legitimate business. Also looking at the companies they do business with you can see they are not worth sticking up for. Bayer has a long history of doing horrible things from their creation of heroine back before WW1 (which they held a patent on up until the war) to their direct funding and creation of the Auschwitz death camps in Nazi Germany under IG Farben which was also part of the creation team behind Zyklon B.

Otto Armbrust (IG Farben board member behind Auschwitz) had this too say:
"our new friendship with the SS is a blessing. We have determined all measures integrating the concentration camps to benefit our company."

A long term Bayer employee and Nazi doctor had this too say to his employer Bayer before he was executed for war crimes:

"I have thrown myself into my work wholeheartedly. Especially as I have the opportunity to test our new preparations. I feel like I am in paradise."

Fritz Ter Meer worked for Bayer and then IG Farben with Dr. Joseph Mengele and was convicted of war crimes and sentenced to 7 years in prison, at an interview during the trial about the test he committed he had this too say:

"They were prisoners thus no particular harm was inflicted, as they would have been killed anyway."

After he got out he became the chairman of Bayer and too this day Bayer has a fund in his name.

Bayer has also been involved with human deaths more recently with Baycol in which at least 52 people have died and thousands more hospitalized. As well as with HIV infect blood products and a powdered milk substitute they contaminated with insecticide methyl parathion and gave to a remote village thinking nobody would notice the aftermath. Not too mention other drugs that have failed and their global pestacide market and release of GMO rice into regular rice crops.

Sanofi-Aventis is another customer of HLS and through Aventis/Hoescht AG history was one of the founding members of IG Farben which was mentioned earlier with Bayer.

Bristol-Meyers Squibb another customer of HLS has had accounting scandals and has been raided by the FBI and been too court several times.

these are three companies involved with HLS however there are others doing much of the same. Plus Goldman Sachs is tanking as is Fortress Investments (who has scandals of it's own).

So the question is: Why is HLS still in existence and why are we allowing them to be in existence and why would be support them and their customers against free speech and compassion?

Just as an interesting note about DARTT:
DARTT is an independent group, not affiliated with SHAC, SHAC USA or any other organization and does not conduct illegal activity. (from a press release about their demos found online)

I applaud DARTT for standing up against the horrific abuses shown in HLS time and time again and standing up for free speech. As well as going against Goldman Sachs, a company that probably most of the world hates right now. It seems like just about every week there is a story somewhere about GS doing something bad or being in trouble again and the comments associated with those articles always seem to be negative towards GS. Also I am glad you are annoying Mary Cheh she is really nasty and spiteful woman who clearly hates the first amendment.
To Paul: I don't think it takes much for you to support the likes of Goldman Sachs. You made it pretty clear you were going to take the side of GS and Cheh right from the get go instead of taking the side of free speech and against animal abuse. You went right in with your attack against DARTT and then the comparison too a separate group then throughout your entire comment supported outright lies and companies that are evil. You simply want to advance a criminal agenda in order to help only yourself and nobody else. It's people like you that turn people off from humanity and force them into recluse or into horrible acts that put peoples lives in danger.

I might see your point about animal testing if it worked, but science has proven that wrong over and over, many scientists have come out against it as well as average citizens and celebrities.
"I abhor vivisection. It should at least be curbed. Better, it should be abolished. I know of no achievement through vivisection, no scientific discovery, that could not have been obtained without such barbarism and cruelty. The whole thing is evil." - Dr. Charles Mayo, Founder of the Mayo Clinic

"Giving cancer to laboratory animals has not and will not help us to understand the disease or to treat those persons suffering from it."
- Dr. A. Sabin, 1986, developer of the oral polio vaccine

"There are no alternatives to animal experimentation, for one can only talk of alternatives if these replace something of the same worth; and there is nothing quite as useless, misleading and harmful as animal experimentation."
-Prof. Pietro Croce, M.D.

"Indeed, while conflicting animal tests have often delayed and hampered advances on the war on cancer, they have never produced a single substantial advance either in the prevention or treatment of human cancer."
-Dr. Irwin Bros, director of Roswell Park Memorial

"At present it is a rare person that emerges from medical training with his or her humanity intact." - Journal of the Amerian Medical Association 1989 Vol 261, p. 2011

"Science that fails to embrace all living beings is far more dangerous than any virus!" -
Steven Simmons, AIDS victim and activist

If you want civility Paul you won't find it in Huntingdon Life Sciences nor in Goldman Sachs nor in Mary Cheh. Civility is something that Goldman Sachs has refused time and time again. According to the article DARTT tried to meet with GS and GS refused. I mean if I were running a corporation and somebody asked to meet with me over involvement in horrific animal abuse, I would meet with them, even if I wasn't going to care about what they had to say I would at least meet with them in hopes they wouldn't bother me. GS didn't even have the decency for that. It seems like they ran scared too the courts and the police because they couldn't be bothered for a short meeting to discuss things like rational beings. Basically they did what a very young child might do they tattled and made stuff up so that free speech could be quashed and freedom and the animals at HLS could suffer more abuse.
The skinny guy with the blond hair looks more like a British schoolboy than a terrorist or someone who has threatened or caused harm to somebody.

He reminds me of the Hooligan bit by comedian Bill Hicks (R.I.P.):
'Yesterday, some hooligans knocked over a dustbin in Shaftesbury.' ...Wooooo. 'The hooligans are loose! The hooligans are loose! ...What if they become ruffians? I'd hate to be a dustbin in Shaftesbury tonight. (to the tune of "Behind Blue Eyes" by The Who) No one knows what it's like... to be a dustbin... in Shaftesbury... with hooligans...'

Better watch out Weber might come too your house and knock over your dustbin...LOL. Methinks this Paese guy is a fraidy-cat!
Goldman Sachs denies owning shares in Fortress Investments, the bail-out saviors of puppy killing HLS?

Any moron can see, on any stock site, that this is a total lie.

As of today they own over one million shares. See for yourself.

My question is: Does Goldman Sachs really believe they're so rich and powerful that they'll lie to a judge's face this blatantly? They're not above the law and perjury is perjury.
Amazing that, since these activists (according to Goldman Sachs) go around "exploding things" and "harming people" that they're not all locked away in prison.

Simply amazing!

Oh but that's right - DARTT echoes the philosophies of the rest of the animal rights movement in their belief in nonviolence and does not harm people or explode things. In other words, DARTT may be loud and speak their mind but they're certainly not hurting people or setting things on fire.

Shame on Goldman Sachs for their lies and their financial support of real and brutal violence at Huntingdon Life Sciences.

Kudos to DARTT for standing up to these bullies.
While I completely agree that the atrocities at HLS need to be stopped, I think that the actions of DARTT have taken it too far. Wearing masks and standing in front of someone's private home at night is scary, and would be to anyone. The neighbors, who are simply trying to sleep and have nothing to do with the animal abuse are also suffering, what about the lives of these people? DARTT should respect them as well.

I would suggest that they take their fight to the streets of downtown and the Goldman Sachs offices. They would reach more people, be out during the DAY as well as maybe deter would be Goldman Sachs clients. Come on- hit them where it hurts, their wallets!!!

DARTT activists DO take the protests to the office building of Goldman Sachs. In fact, far more frequently than the 5 home demos. Which is why the injunction includes the office buildings, as can be read in the article - "Demonstrators also have to stay 50 feet away from any Goldman offices."

I'd like to also make a point, that if the judge were truly concerned about the nature of the home protests, then why would he let them continue at all? Why allow them to continue, but 50, 100 or 150 feet away? Wouldn't this rule then place these protesters in front of either a different office building, or someone else's home, unrelated to GS? What kind of sense does that make? It's not ok to disturb GS employees, but anyone else, regardless of their lack of connection to HLS doesn't matter? If the protests were indeed so horrific, why on earth would the judge allow them to continue in front of someone else's home or office? This is clearly not about the "disturbance" of the protests at all...
I guess one good thing it would be to expose these people for what they really do, either on fb, newspaper, through a reporter writing a story about it, etc. As long as people don't know what these companies are capable of doing, is going to be harder to fight them. Once people are aware of the cruelties that these people, companies do, I think that the judge himself would look bad if he was to overlook the exposed atrocities.
Golly gee they called him a sc*mb*g oh no...he was insulted! Poor baby. These protestors should be shot for daring to call someone who works for Goldman Sachs, a scumbag. My word the nerve of some people too call the saints at Goldman Sachs, the Jesus's of finance, names that are so hurtful. I think they should rename Goldman Sachs, Good Samaritans for all the great work they have done. Michael Paese is practically the new Mother Teresa except like 50000 times better. He is one of the few people who gets the fact when you are claimed to have done something wrong you shouldn't be made aware of that fact. Thats the problem in this world people are always going around saying when somebody or some company may have done something wrong. It should be illegal. I mean not too support the commies but when somebody spoke out against them they were disappeared or shot. Should be the same for pointing out any alleged wrongs against the good upstanding Jesus clones at Goldman Sachs.

My tax money wasn't taken from me too bailout GS, it was a donation too their fine church of good deeds and saintly activities. Plus I bet those dogs the company they are funding kills were probably vicious attack dogs that would have murdered 80 billion people if let loose.

I mean if people will go after the good name of Goldman Sachs, who next: Blackwater/Xe, Wal Mart, or maybe they might go after the saints at BP oil. This must be stopped
Goldman Sachs will fall.
How is this legislation gonna effect the rest of the country? Home demos are already on the line and they're passing definitive legislation defining it as beyond freedom of speech. I have to say, it is not ironic at all that it should be a bank (as opposed to the HLS itself) that is digging the grave for our last scraps of our rights to free speech and fair trial.

On a related note, I wonder if living near someone who profits from animal exploitation brings down your property value? Maybe that'll give some people incentive to keep these corporate criminals out of our neighborhoods.
So wait, home demonstrations against people tied to illegal abuse of animals is being ruled against, but anti-war/anti-gay demonstrations beside the funerals and funeral processions of dead soldiers and Elizabeth Edwards is okay? It seems like the law favors people who have money, not people who have honor.
Did someone say that animal research helps cure cancer???? Maybe that person can help explain why cancer rates keep going up? Studies prove that animal research doesn't help humans. And with modern technology and the availability of other non-animal methods, there is NO reason why we should continue to torture defenseless creatures.
His neighbours are SLEEPING between 6 and 9 pm? On Halloween? Are you people so stupid and apathetic you can't think of a better argument? Oh yeah of course, it's because there is NO valid argument to condemn DARTT for being brave and generous to stand up for issues that they too could just turn a blind eye on. We are all to blame for letting HLS exist and if we're not doing anything against it's existence, let alone if we're encouraging it, we should be exposed to a bit of megaphone action. I know it would take you GS supporters the loss of your job or no punishment for someone who raped you daughter to drive you to go out there and demand justice but when idiotic neighbors come to punch you in the face for disturbing their self-obsessed, grotesquely wealthy peace, I will have a good laugh...
As some of the posters on this thread who are equipped with a brain pointed out, animal experiments are useless to serious research anyway, the scientific community has acknowledged that a long time ago.
HLS is wrong and what they do disgusts me, but how is this really helping animals?

These kinds of tactics get people riled up and get media attention, but they turn the public away from the real issue, the dogs, and make it seem like all people that care about animals are crazy. That doesn't seem to be DARTT's intentions, but it's their results.

In reality, this does very little to help animals. I'd like to ask DARTT, what good comes out of this? It'd be more effective to fund groups that can do investigations into testing labs (or factory farms) or do educational outreach, which will actually create change in this world.

Leave a Comment

Note: HTML tags are not allowed in comments.
Comments Shown. Turn Comments Off.