Hindi jailed––against higher court order

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, December 1996:

WOODSTOCK, Illinois– – As
ANIMAL PEOPLE went to press at dawn on
November 25, Chicago Animal Rights
Coalition founder Steve Hindi, 42, remained
in the McHenry County Jail, by order of circuit
judge James Franz, nearly four days after
the State of Illinois Appellate Court Second
District––a higher jurisdiction––ordered that
Hindi be released on bail pending appeal of a
November 6 contempt of court conviction.
Hindi was in the eleventh day of a
hunger strike, commenced, he told ANIMAL
PEOPLE, “because I have to fight this somehow,
and it’s the only thing I can do.”
Stated the Appellate order: “Motion
by appellant, Steven Hindi, for emergency
stay of the trial court’s order of contempt of
November 6, 1996, and to set an appeal
bond…is allowed, and this cause is remanded
to the trial court for the limited purpose of
establishing an appropriate appeal bond. This
court retains jurisdiction over this appeal.”

However, instead of setting bond
promptly on Friday, November 22, Franz
postponed the bond hearing until November
25––and reportedly remarked from the bench
that if anything interfered with his setting
bond then, the bond-setting would just have
to wait until he returned from a vacation he’d
scheduled to start the next day. The projected
vacation would overlap Thanksgiving, and
coincide with both the McHenry County
archery deer season and the rifle deer season
in Wisconsin, which bounds McHenry
County to the north, but neither A N I M A L
PEOPLE nor CHARC has been able to learn
if Franz is himself a hunter.
That left Hindi, a tee-totaling former
Republican candidate for Congress, with
daughters aged 6 and 12 at home and a rivetmaking
company to run, to sit in his jail cell
wondering for another weekend if his huntdisrupting
paraglider somehow flew through a
time/space warp into a bad acid trip at the
wrong Woodstock––or into the pages of a
novel by another Franz, Franz Kafka.
Hindi has led frequent protests at the
Woodstock Hunt Club and the Richmond
Hunt Club, also in McHenry County, since
last fall. The ground-based demonstrations
turned dangerous at least twice.
“Once when the wind was right,”
wrote Chicago Tribune hunting columnist
John Husar, a Woodstock Hunt Club employee
“dragged a plow across some dusty stubble
where Hindi’s gang was yelling and videotaping,
creating a cloud that forced them into
their cars. The description was broadcast [by
club staff, via two-way radio into hunting
blinds] with high amusement.”
Then, on March 17, Hoffman
Estates resident Robert Kazelak fired
a shotgun twice over protester Mike
Durschmidt’s head as he stood with
18 other demonstrators on the far
side of Illinois Highway 173 from
the Richmond Hunt Club.
Eventually Hindi took to
the air, using the CHARC paragliders
in September and early October
to steer flocks of geese away from
the clubs’ shooting blinds. According
to witnesses, Hindi simply flies
between the oncoming geese and the
club land. The geese, who normally
fly higher and faster, change course
instead of coming within decoying
and shooting range.
On October 11, the
Woodstock Hunt Club sued Hindi,
CHARC, and neighbors Steve and
Carol Gross for $411,000 in alleged
damages, and won a temporary
restraining order from Franz, which
as Hindi understood it enjoined him
from further flights near the club.
Hindi explained as much to A N IMAL
PEOPLE by telephone, right
after learning the TRO was issued.
A day later, Hindi led a
ground-based protest outside the
Woodstock club. With Steve and
Carol Gross, he was arrested for
allegedly violating the 1984 Illinois
Hunter Interference Prohibition Act.
Having long sought a chance to challenge
the constitutionality of the
apparently never-before-used act,
Hindi welcomed the arrest––the only
arrest, Hindi told ANIMAL PEOPLE,
that he had actually courted.
“I don’t believe in getting
arrested just to get arrrested,” Hindi
said, distinguishing his use of highprofile,
high-tech tactics from deliberate
civil disobedience.
Ground-based demonstrations
continued at both hunting
clubs. Hindi flew a paraglider
briefly on November 4 for the benefit
of a TV crew, but flew away
from either club, he said, and was
soon forced down by high winds.
The publicity evidently
infuriated Franz, who was “visibly
upset,” according to C h i c a g o
T r i b u n e staff writer Charles Mount,
in finding Hindi in contempt of court
two days later, jailing him for six
months. “Hindi was immediately
taken into custody for the unprecedented
sentence,” Mount wrote,
“when Franz curtly denied a request
by Hindi’s attorney, Louis Bruno,
for a stay pending appeal.”
Witness Jim Beam said
Franz called a 10-minute recess
before hearing closing arguments.
During the recess, two armed
bailiffs were positioned to seize
Hindi when Franz rendered the verdict.
“Was the decision made before
the judge heard closing arguments?”
Beam asked. “You decide.”
Because Franz left the
courtroom without signing the order
that sent Hindi to jail, attorney
Louis Bruno couldn’t get the papers
necessary to file an appeal until after
the weekend of November 9-10–-
while Hindi remained in jail.
Carol and Steve Gross
were convicted of participating in
protests on four days in all, Beam
said, but were away celebrating
their 28th wedding anniversary on
two of the days in question, and the
witnesses were unable to specify just
what any of them did that was illegal.
One witness reportedly
described Carol Gross, a petite
blonde, as dark-haired and heavy.
Franz, who is also to hear
the Woodstock Hunt Club lawsuit,
made the TRO against Hindi and
Steve and Carol Gross permanent.
The longterm status of that case
became uncertain, however, when
Woodstock Hunt Club owner Earl
Johnson, 45, died November 13 of
a heart attack. Authorities said
Johnson, a former sheriff’s police
officer, was breaking ice in a pond
near a hunting blind. Hindi said the
Woodstock Hunt Club attorney
blamed him for contributing to the
cause of death at his unsuccessful
appeal before Franz two days later.
A McHenry County jury
on November 21 acquitted Kazelek
of recklessly endangering Durschmidt
by shooting in his direction.
According to Durschmidt, the jury
ruled that as the protesters “did not
run away or duck,” they “must not
have felt endangered. Therefore
there must not have been any reckless
Concluded Durschmidt,
“This has now set a precedent in
McHenry County: it’s okay to shoot
at animal rights activists.”
recently received accounts of similar
incidents from another animal rights
activist of note––Henry Spira, who
wrote them in 1963-1964 as a newspaper
reporter covering efforts to
register Afro-American voters in

Print Friendly

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.