By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
UofA assistant police chief Harry Hueston confirms that the university has arrested leaders of opposition groups, but only because they had committed crimes. The Pima County Attorney's Office stepped up the pressure after the Columbus Day demonstration by announcing that a grand jury was reviewing television and police videotapes of a six-minute confrontation during which UofA officers began arresting demonstrators inside Steward Observatory.
Even more worrisome, Gattone says, are witnesses who claim that undercover detective Tony Batelli encouraged members of opposition groups such as Earth First! and the Student Environmental Action Coalition to commit crimes.
In April 1992, Batelli attended an anti-telescope forum at UofA's Gallagher Theater and suggested to a UofA student leader that the two of them "engage in some nightwork" on the mountain. "If you need any help, just let me know," the activist says Batelli told him.
"I told him, 'Don't even talk to me about that,'" says Hodges, the national director of the coalition.
"Nightwork" is a euphemism Edward Abbey used in his novels to describe creative sabotage of development in wilderness areas.
Tucson police refuse to comment on claims by telescope opponents that Batelli tried to incite them to take illegal actions. However, one of the protesters, Indian leader Guy Lopez, says Tucson police Sergeant Kathy Robinson told him there was nothing wrong with Batelli suggesting illegal actions because police wanted to know how far protesters were willing to go.
The only arrests made during Batelli's undercover tenure resulted from nonviolent civil disobedience during demonstrations on and off the UofA campus. In all but two occasions, the charges, typically criminal trespass and disturbing the peace, were dismissed.
UofA officials claim they were not aware of Batelli's undercover role. Jay Parker, a retired Army intelligence general from Fort Huachuca who now oversees UofA's police department, told regents last November that UofA didn't learn of the Tucson Police Department undercover operation until Batelli was unmasked at the demonstration.
But other university officials, including assistant dean of students Barbara Vito, say that the UofA and Tucson police departments, along with undercover detectives, met before the Columbus Day protest last October and exchanged pictures of protesters who had been arrested at an earlier demonstration.
Batelli's actions after his exposure also suggest that UofA and Tucson police were cooperating. A videotape made outside the observatory that day shows Batelli with UofA assistant police chief Harry Hueston, who has his arm around Batelli's shoulder as the two walk slowly away, heads bowed, talking.
New Times submitted a request for Tucson police records of Batelli's undercover work. The department claims no written records exist. Yet in a police-transcribed interview of one demonstrator who complained about Batelli's actions, the department's internal affairs officer, Sergeant Robinson, confirms that "we're gathering intelligence" on telescope foes.
@body:Steel bars drape the windows and doors of Robin Silver's comfortable, north Phoenix home. There are motion detectors and alarms throughout the interior. Two large, fireproof safes hold his most important documents and negatives. Silver, an emergency room physician at Saint Joseph's Hospital, says he's not being paranoid. He knows he's a target. He believes UofA wants to shut him up.
What should be his living room is really his environmental nerve center. The room is jammed with at least 20 file cabinets, copy and fax machines, desks and mountains of paper. The telephone never stops ringing as Silver answers questions from reporters from across the country and gives instructions to lawyers building environmental cases.
No one has been a bigger thorn in the side of UofA on Mount Graham than Silver. Fueled by the competitive fire that earned him a tennis scholarship to UofA 20 years ago, Silver is focused and energetic. He's determined to win a battle, which he sees as simply a war between good and evil.
"They are whores," Silver said, summing up his feelings toward UofA administrators and astronomers.
Silver says UofA has sold its soul to feed the ego of a handful of astronomers and administrators who want the university to lay claim to a mythical title as the top astronomy department in the world. To get there, UofA is willing to jeopardize an endangered species and chop up what's left of North America's southernmost spruce-fir forest.
Silver says the university will stop at nothing, including arresting him for taking pictures at the Columbus Day demonstration last October.
An accomplished photographer whose photos of rare species have appeared in numerous publications, Silver was photographing the Steward Observatory demonstration when he was arrested by two UofA police officers on trespassing charges. At the time of his arrest, videotapes show he was not participating in the demonstration, but merely documenting the event. The charges were later dismissed, but Silver has filed a $1 million wrongful arrest claim against the university.
University officials paint Silver and other opponents of the project as wackos with nothing better to do than harass UofA. School administrator Cusanovich calls Silver and his allies modern-day "Luddites," a term referring to a 19th-century antitechnology movement led by hay cutters who objected to mechanized harvesters that displaced their jobs.
"Part of the agenda of the environmental movement is to oppose and object to development anywhere," Cusanovich said.