Man with semi-automatic weapon protests on Sand Hill


By Dave Boyce

Almanac Staff Writer

With due respect to Buffalo Springfield, there's a man with a gun over there, and what he wants ain't exactly clear.

"There" is in the 2800 block of Sand Hill Road at an entrance to an office complex near the Rosewood Sand Hill hotel at Interstate 280 in Menlo Park. The man with the gun said he is Los Angeles resident Michael Zeleny, who showed up there on Thursday (Feb. 9).

He's wearing a surplus military uniform complete with combat helmet and bullet-proof vest. He's carrying a semi-automatic M14 military rifle that he says is unloaded, and a long-lens camera.

"This public protest is in no way associated with the Rosewood Sand Hill hotel," said hotel Managing Director Michael Casey. "That entrance is not the entrance to the Rosewood Sand Hill hotel. That entrance is the entrance to 12 different addresses; Rosewood is just one of them."

The location at the corner of Sand Hill Road is the only public property on which he could stand, Mr. Casey added.

Police arrived, questioned the protester, but made no arrest. "They're very cooperative and very professional," the protester said of the police.

He is carrying two magazines of ammunition, but as long as the rifle remains unloaded, he is within the letter of the law, Menlo Park Police Department spokeswoman Nicole Acker said.

Asked if he expects to load his weapon, he replied: "I hope not. Only a direct threat (would cause that and) I don't expect that to happen."

He has fired the rifle at a firing range, he said.

What he wants, he said, is not violence but justice or, failing that, notoriety or just attention to be paid to a cold case of rape alleged to have occurred 24 years ago to a former associate. Why protest at this location? A former business partner of the perpetrator works at an office there, he said.

The statute of limitations on the alleged rape has long passed, he noted. So why stand in the direct sun in something very like a full military combat uniform over allegations that have apparently never been and probably never will be heard in a court of law?

The uniform and rifle draw attention to his cause, he said. As for the camera, he said he uses it to photograph potential clients of the business partner.

No crimes

The protest, which includes a few signs, is taking place on public land, Ms. Acker, the police spokesperson, said. "He's fulfilling all our requirements, so there nothing we can do," she said. "He hasn't committed any crimes, so that's pretty much it."

"I am here to exercise my First Amendment rights and I am very glad that somebody is listening," he said.

His protest began in 2005, he said, adding that he plans to be at the Sand Hill Road location intermittently.

What is democracy worth to you?
Support local journalism.


Like this comment
Posted by sunshine1
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 9, 2012 at 6:12 pm

Please tell me wny our Police Department is falling all over themselves to ^^protect** what looks like a terrorist ????
How much more dangerous is it **possible** for anyone to be to the public???? What about the **innocent bystanders** and motorists on Sand HIll Road ???
It is plain and obvious that the Menlo Park Police department is NOT run by true **PEACE** officers.
There is a very very DANGEROUS precedent being set here by the police high command that simply must be reversed quickly.

3 people like this
Posted by Matthew
a resident of Laurel School
on Feb 9, 2012 at 6:34 pm


Really? This man has broken NO laws. The only "Dangerous precendent" would be to do something because he "looks like a terroist"

1 person likes this
Posted by Robert D.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 9, 2012 at 6:49 pm

sunshine1 - many times on this board we have talked about 'laws' If we do not like them, then we the citizens need to push our elected officials to get them changed. In this case, the law is clear and therefore the police not only did the right thing, they did it in a professional manner.
In the same respect - this man said he was a victim of rape. Do I think all rapist should be allowed to walk around with no recourse just because time has passed - no. But our laws talk to that too..

Frankly if a rape did occur, and I have no reason to believe he would lie about that, I would want that dealt with before someone 'peacefully' albeit oddly protesting.

3 people like this
Posted by Menlo Park
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 9, 2012 at 6:51 pm


just what would you have the police arrest this individual for? I'll wait while you try to come up with some law he's broken.

Like this comment
Posted by sunshine1
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 9, 2012 at 7:26 pm

HOW do we know beyond the shadow of a doubt this gun is NOT loaded at any given moment ????
Why should we trust his word when he looks so very threatening???

I hope the Menlo Park city lawyers are burning the midnight oil on this emergency issue??

What about threatening the Safety and Welfare of the public here??
Why would anyone show up with a weapon if they are truly peaceful ???
Does California have an “Open Carry” law currently ??

3 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 9, 2012 at 7:37 pm

Yes, sunshine California has an open carry law. If it isn't concealed and it's unloaded it's legal. Frankly, I think you have more to worry about from the drunk drivers leaving the Rosewood than you do this guy.

I'm still waiting for you to come up with a law he's broken. Can't can you?

2 people like this
Posted by Michael Zeleny
a resident of another community
on Feb 10, 2012 at 8:00 am

Thanks to Dave Boyce for this fair and balanced report.

In regard of my demands, the hotel complex at which I am holding my protest also houses New Enterprise Associates (NEA), self-described in their court filings in connection with this matter as our world's wealthiest and most important venture capital firm, with over $11 billion under management. [Portion removed; this forum is not the place to make allegations of criminal wrongdoing.]

2 people like this
Posted by Marshall
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Feb 10, 2012 at 11:21 am


The protester is within his rights - why would you want to lock up a law abiding citizen expressing his concerns? That sounds very much against the values that the USA was created on.

The area is most likely much safer with him there!

I certainly hope Menlo Park does not waste taxpayer money on harrasing this protester.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox.

Why is it becoming increasingly impossible to open a restaurant on the Peninsula?
By Elena Kadvany | 29 comments | 5,396 views

An Easy Emissions Win
By Sherry Listgarten | 4 comments | 997 views

Helping Partners Become Couples (vs. Helping Couples Become Partners)
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 754 views

It just takes time
By Cheryl Bac | 0 comments | 638 views

Sugar Detective
By Laura Stec | 2 comments | 587 views


Register now!

On Friday, October 11, join us at the Palo Alto Baylands for a 5K walk, 5K run, 10K run or half marathon! All proceeds benefit local nonprofits serving children and families.

More Info