It started with a man taking photos from across a canal of Marine Mammal Conservancy workers standing in the water with a 12-foot whale down in the Florida Keys.
It ended with a conservancy volunteer – who happened to be a Miami cop – jumping out of the water and chasing the man down in his car, detaining him at gunpoint.
Arnold Christopher Lagergren, an animal rights activist, was charged with four misdemeanors, including trespassing and loitering.
His bond was set at $30,000, which is astronomical for four misdemeanors.
But then again, the FBI is saying he is a member of a terrorist organization; the Animal Liberation Front, which releases captive animals from farms and laboratories.
But if he is such a terrorist, surely they would have found felony charges to stick him with.
Instead, they jacked up his bail extraordinary high.
Bail is usually set at $500 per misdemeanor down here. After my first for photographing cops, I was charged with nine misdemeanors and my bail was set at $3,500 (maybe they gave me a discount and charged me for only seven counts).
I didn’t pay it, choosing to remain in jail overnight to see the judge the following morning.
After my second arrest for photographing cops, I was charged with a single misdemeanor of public intoxication, which was later changed to resisting arrest. Bail was set at $500 and I chose to bail out rather than wait several days to see the judge (it was Memorial Day Weekend).
So it’s a little mind-boggling to see Lagergren’s bail set so high, especially when there is no evidence he is a violent person.
According to The Miami Herald:
On Saturday, Monroe Deputy Sever Hustad was responding to a 2:50 p.m. trespass report at the Hampton Inn, adjacent to the MMC site at mile marker 102.2. Hustad said he saw a Dodge Challenger speed up to cut off a Ford Mustang that was headed toward U.S. 1 from a Hampton Inn driveway.
“The driver of the Dodge Challenger immediately identified himself as a law enforcement officer, taking the driver of the Ford Mustang out at gunpoint and immediately securing the driver with handcuffs,” Hustad wrote.
Ortiz told the deputy that he had just entered the water at MMC to work with the 12-foot adult whale when he saw Lagergren taking photos from across a canal. Lagergren, who had been warned previously to stay off MMC property, then crossed onto the site, Ortiz told Hustad.
The Miami officer said Lagergren attempted to tamper with an MMC fence, then fled.
On Aug. 21, former MMC official Robert Lingenfelser told deputies that at 4:15 a.m., he saw two men trying to dismantle a fence across a canal, marking an area used for animal rehabilitation. The two ran off but Lingenfelser said he recognized Lagergren from previous encounters.
In case you don’t remember the name, Robert Lingenfelser, he is the man who threatened a conservancy volunteer with a felony for photographing a whale in May.
So he doesn’t seem to be very credible. Especially considering he claims to have recognized Lagergren at 4:15 a.m. last month.
That’s not to say Lagergren wasn’t trying to free the whales that day. He is clearly an animal activist, which is evident by the website he has linked on his Twitter account (which hasn’t been updated in more than two years).
But until they catch him doing something more than just taking photos or trespassing, they should treat him like any other suspect arrested on misdemeanor charges.