The company's location also made it an easy target. Primate Products had a facility in Doral on NW 53rd Street. There, Smash officially launched with a demonstration in May 2010.

Serignese and his supporters targeted President Donald Bradford by posting his home and cell phone numbers, then encouraging members to contact him. They staged demonstrations outside his gated community and on the front steps of Pembroke Lakes Country Club, where he was a member. The aim, says Serignese, was to shame Bradford out of the business. (Bradford did not respond to several messages requesting comment.)

"Everybody makes mistakes," Serignese says. "But some are so far gone that they need some social pressure to say stop what you're doing."

Gary Serignese leads a Smash HLS protest outside the home of a 93-year-old lady.
Courtesy of Open the Cages Tour
Gary Serignese leads a Smash HLS protest outside the home of a 93-year-old lady.

In August 2010, Smash posted ten gruesome photographs from within the facility showing monkeys flopped on examination tables with bloody head gashes and other injuries. The pictures were "those our veterinary staff took to document the medical treatment to animals that were injured by other animals," Bradford told NBC6 at the time in an email response to the controversy. In the same exchange, the Primate Product president referred to the lifeless animals in the photos as "completely healed, healthy, beautiful animals."

A subsequent U.S. Department of Health and Human Services investigation found that the company complied with standards, noting there were only 80 reported injuries for a then-total animal population of 3,000. But the photos convinced Nova Southeastern University to stop purchasing animals from Primate Products.

A follow-up report by NBC6 linked the firm to another debacle. In 2009, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention delivered 101 monkeys. Primate Products was supposed to find suitable homes. But the company left the monkeys at a nonprofit roadside zoo that didn't have the proper facilities or expertise. Twenty-one died.

Smash also harassed about a half-dozen companies providing logistical support, from Primate Products' web hosting service, Southern Data Systems, to its waste hauler, Stericycle.

Amerijet International, a Fort Lauderdale-based airline that transported monkeys for the company, also landed in the crosshairs. Smash pushed the point by picketing company officers' homes.

In February 2011, after Smash put up an internet post mocking the inspirational speaking business run by the wife of an Amerijet exec, the airline announced it would no longer fly primates. In June, a second local airline, Monarch Air Group, also caved to Smash's demands to give up the business. (Amerijet and Monarch executives did not return calls requesting comment.)

Serignese claims these early wins helped legitimize his group. "This was new in South Florida — the aggressive chanting, home demos," he says. "There were some people that wanted to be nice to everybody. Others, I think they liked the chance to directly confront an individual who does something bad."

Smash's confrontational style straddles the line between merry prankster and agitator. The group has no problem splashing its website with personal information on targeted company employees. There's everything from home addresses to photographs of spouses pulled off Facebook to past arrest records. Serignese has even dialed up the daughter of a Primate Products employee at her dorm room in Ohio to discuss how Dad made his living.

This past October, Serignese learned one Primate Products executive, John Resuta, was a fan of 1960s rock. So he paraded marchers costumed like James Dean, Micky Dolenz, and other icons before the target's house. He says he also dug up Resuta's wish list and learned the executive was shopping for a book on stomach workouts. At the next demonstration, Serignese blared taunts about abs through a megaphone. "You can probably figure out what it was like on your own," Resuta told New Times when asked about the demonstrations, before declining to comment.

Though Serginese claims to steer clear of the frothing hate speech of Marino, he's been arrested four times on misdemeanors ranging from noise violation to resisting arrest (all charges were dropped). Online records show the FBI and other law enforcement regularly stop by Smash's website.

Serignese claims to have won a victory when Primate Products quietly shut down its Doral location last month. But the company denies Smash forced the closure. "There's been a downturn for the business here for the last five or six years," current President Thomas J. Rowell told New Times. "Just recently, we've had the quarantine facilities at our West Coast side approved... so it just didn't make sense to have two sites." In a follow-up email, Rowell says the company expects the Miami location may be operational in the future. "Many extremist groups make claims of 'victory' which should be met with some skepticism at the least."

Serignese began shopping for a new target and quickly settled upon Worldwide Primates. Matthew Block served 13 months in federal prison for violating the U.S. Endangered Species Act. He had played a role in the affair of the Bangkok Six, a botched 1990 smuggling operation that left six infant orangutans dead. In a statement released to New Times, the firm contends, "The actions of Smash have only resulted in creating stress on the very animals they claim to care about by increasing travel times. The loss of employees who truly care about the animals they work with on a daily basis should also be a concern to Smash as it makes it more difficult to provide optimum care for these animals."

But in Serignese's eyes, both Primate Products and this company make money off an immoral industry. "I think we are going to effectively shut down Worldwide Primates," he promises.

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I'd like to know how an ethics (philosophy) major justifies screwing with a 93-year-old woman who isn't involved in the protestors' cause.  Serignese must be a B student.

veganron 2 Like

@rev.moonshine It is understandable that you think this woman is not involved. The reporter failed to inform the reader that Gertie Block is listed in the official corporate records as the Secretary/Treasurer of World Wide Primates. Her son, as pointed out in the article, is a convicted felon. It is Matthew Block who involved his 93 year old mother in this horrific enterprise. He should stop hiding behind his mother and remove her name from the business. At that point, she will no longer be a target of home demonstrations.

veganron 3 Like

This is a reporter who will ignore what his eyes see and what his heart tells him in order to maintain his distorted vision of journalistic integrity. If he was writing in the 1850's, he would be opining that "it's unclear specifically what kind of mistreatment" slaves endure, and citing official investigations showing plantation owners "complied with standards."  He also gave credibility to the obviously face saving lies of Primate Products as to why they closed their strategically located headquarters of thirty years. On the whole, a mangy journalistic effort.

And Matt Block: Your disingenuous quote blaming animal activists for  "increasing travel times"  is a shameless rhetorical ploy. Monkeys were being killed in transit by you long before Smash HLS appeared on the scene. The only way to save them is to put you out of business.