An update on UCSC animal rights terrorism

In the two days since I first mentioned an attempted home invasion of a researcher at the University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC) by bandana-masked animal rights terrorists, there have been new developments worth posting an update here.

First, last night the Santa Cruz Sentinel posted a story indicating that the FBI are now involved in the investigation:

SANTA CRUZ - The FBI is investigating a possible connection between a militant animal rights group and the weekend attack on the home of a UC Santa Cruz researcher, a spokeswoman confirmed Wednesday.

"The reason we said we'd look into it is to see if there's a possible link to domestic terrorism," said Patti Hanson, an FBI public affairs specialist in San Francisco.

A demonstration by six masked protesters in front of a UCSC scientist's Westside home Sunday afternoon turned violent when the group pounded on the door and were confronted by the researcher's husband, police reported.

The incident bears striking resemblances to recent attacks on UCLA researchers linked to three animal rights groups.

LA County court documents filed last week state that "masked persons ... trespass onto the property of an employee... They attempt to terrorize the employee and family members by banging on the front door and shouting threats and obscenities through bullhorns ..."

Indeed. Because the intent of animal rights terrorists is to terrorize and intimidate researchers into quitting animal research, just as they succeeded in doing to UCLA researcher Dario Ringach through an escalating campaign of harassment. After a colleague was targeted with a Molotov cocktail, which, characteristically given the cluelessness of animal rights twits, was mistakenly placed on the porch of an elderly neighbor, Ringach decided to bow out of research on animals. Moreover, it's not just primate researchers who are being targeted. At UCSC, the researcher targeted used mouse models to research breast cancer and neurological diseases.

This new account describes what happened, as well as the 911 call made during the attack:

Escalante said the UCSC's researcher's husband heard yelling in the front yard, looked out the front door window and saw protestors about 12:50 p.m. At the time, the family was celebrating a birthday party for one of their children. Their two children and two others, all under the age of 10, were inside. They moved the kids to the back of the house and the wife stayed with them.

"By that time he hears pounding," Escalante said. The man returned to the front door, locked the dead bolt, checked on the kids and went back to the door. "He can see the [door] frame moving."

At some point, someone from the home dialed 911 but didn't speak.

"It was an open line with some sort of disturbance," Escalante said. "There was a woman screaming in the background and children crying."

Police were dispatched to the address associated with the phone number. Meanwhile, the man opened the front door and confronted the protestors. He was hit on the hand once or twice by an unknown object, and fought back throwing a punch or two, according to police.

"He defended himself after being attacked," Escalante said. "He started in the doorway by trying to push the people back, then moved back out onto the lawn area."

Eventually, the group of six ran to a car parked around the corner and drove away.

I'm not sure I would have had the cojones to open the door as the husband did; I probably would have found something that could be used as a weapon, such as a golf club or baseball bat, just in case the criminals managed to break the door down, and then waited for police. On the other hand, I'd have no way of knowing if the criminals were circling around the back of the house to where my children were and I couldn't be in two places at once; so I really don't know what I would have done if I were in the researcher's husband's shoes. I know I would have been scared, though.

Here's an account of the attack by the researcher:

The researcher said she does not know specific details of what happened between the intruders and her husband Sunday because "I was cowering in the back of the house" with the children as he chased the intruders down the street and captured their license plate number.

She said the family was in the front of the home celebrating her daughter's birthday when the intruders began "beating on the porch and the front door." She said the door, secured by two locks, started shaking as she grabbed her children.

"The kids - can you imagine? - I rushed to them," she said. "I was scared [the suspects] were going to enter the house."

She said her husband opened the door and "grappled" with the intruders, and was hit on his hand before chasing them. Neighbors shouted out to him that they were calling 911.

And what about the reactions of animal rights spokespeople? The usual doublespeak:

Andrea Lindsay, a spokeswoman for the San Francisco-based SHAC 7 animal rights group, said her members, six of whom are in prison for activist activities, had no involvement in Sunday's incident. She said well-known animal rights activist Peter Young gave a talk Saturday night at the Louden Nelson Community Center to raise funds for the legal appeals of SHAC 7 members, but she said she did not know of any connection between the event and the home invasion.

Lindsay said without knowing specifically what activists did Sunday, she did not want to comment on their actions. But, she said in general, "I understand why people are outraged at the use of animals in experiments and why people use a variety of tactics." She said most animal rights activists abide by "a strict code of not injuring people" during their demonstrations.

Young, a Los Gatos native who served two years in a federal prison for releasing thousands of mink from Midwest farms, told the Sentinel Tuesday he had no involvement in Sunday's incident and said no one at his talk indicated they were planning any activity against a UCSC faculty member.

But Young, who said he moved to Santa Cruz a month ago after getting off probation, said he was present when police raided the Riverside Avenue home of the three UCSC students. He said he went to the house after hearing from friends Sunday that police were targeting the house of fellow activists, but said didn't know about the earlier home invasion investigation.

While he said he does not know exactly what happened Sunday, he said, "After being around animal rights activists for many years, I've never encountered anyone who condoned violence against people for the cause of animal liberation."

He said the case seemed to be a "P.R. smear campaign by vivisectors to discredit the work of activists. I'm quite sure somebody didn't try to break into the house. We're against violence."

Yeah, right. Abel Pharmboy correctly characterized this as the "most idiotic statement (thus far) on the UCSC attack." I'd like to ask Mr. Young and Ms. Lindsay if they know ALF mouthpiece Dr. Jerry Vlasak. He's advocated violence against "vivisectionists" for years, although he tends to do it mostly on the down low when he's with true believers and thinks his remarks won't be reported outside of the cult of animal rights worship. Sometimes, he's quite open about it, though usually not in the U.S.--with at least one big exception: when he testified in front of Congress that murdering scientists would be a "morally justifiable" solution to the "problem." In any case, it may be true that most animal rights activists do not advocate violence, but enough do to be scary. Enough do to result in terroristic activities. Enough do to intimidate scientists. And the animal rights activists who don't advocate violence give implicit aid and cover to those who do by tolerating them and not disavowing them.

Once again, I have to reiterate that the goal of animal rights is nothing short of the complete cessation of all research involving animals. Indeed, this attack at UCSC drives home this point. It's not just primate researchers who are being targeted, but even researchers who use mice. It all makes me wonder how long it will be before a geneticist's lab is attacked to free the Drosophila melanogaster contained therein.

I predict it won't be long, if it hasn't happened already. After all, if mice are equal to people in the eyes of animal rights terrorists, why not fruit flies?

More like this

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I just received this news from Americans for Medical Progress with a link to the Santa Cruz Sentinel reporting on the home invasion last evening Sunday of a UC-Santa Cruz breast cancer and neurological disease researcher: UCSC researcher targeted in attack - animal rights activists believed to be…
...and this time it's a home invasion. Abel Pharmboy at Terra Sig pointed me to this incident, which has all the markings of still more animal rights terrorism. This time, the attack occurred at the University of California Santa Cruz and involved a home invasion by masked intruders: SANTA CRUZ…
It's happened again, only this time it's escalated. Sadly, this escalation was predictable. Remember back in February, when I discussed how animal rights terrorists had been harassing a researcher at the University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC)? At the time, protesters attempted a home invasion…

I feel bad for those kids, having the birthday party! That's horrible.

Mr. Young should know Vlasak - they've talked at the same conference.

Isn't google wonderful?

The Santa Cruz Sentinel should have caught it.

Hm. Shouldn't that link be sent there anyway?

These people are no different than that anti-abortionists who have used similar tactics to bomb, burn, intimidate and then claim justification. As has been stated in other accounts of the incident the terrorists are lucky they didn't choose a household that was armed with a firearm. I know if I was in that position I more than likely would have grabbed my handgun. I've never once picked it up thinking I would have to use it, but after reading the description I'm pretty sure I would have. That could be bad all around. Pretty big ones on the husband to go out there against 6 crazed idiots and get their license plate. Good for him.

Ingrid Newkirk was on Colbert last night. She came off like a total loon, which is pretty accurate.

I have a feeling that researchers using D. melanogaster are low to nonexistent on their hit lists because flies are small, ugly, smelly, and considered pests. They simply don't have the "awww, they're so cute!" or "they're so human-like!" appeal of larger (typically mammalian) animal models.

Wow, our little protest issue on Orac's blog... how cool.

I'm a student at UCSC, and I've been watching this protest from up close since it started way back in... November, I think? with the tree sitting. In that time the campus has been continuously vandalized, covered with disturbing 'shock' pictures, and generally annoyed. A few floors up in the physical sciences building one can see a sign on an office window: "Go Home Protesters." They've caused interruptions in traffic, they've caused grad students and researchers to be locked out of their offices, they've interrupted classes... all things effecting students and people who have nothing to do with biomedical research by the way. At other parts of the campus there have been break ins to steal food, and people squatting in unused dorm rooms (they sneak in from outside). Can't say for sure that this is tied to the protest, but it's happening more now than it did before. If they're trying to win popular support on campus, they're doing a very poor job.

The truly entertaining time was from the beginning of the tree sit until about when it started getting cold, shortly before christmas. During this time the protesters erected a shanty town in the parking lot (which is the proposed site of the new building), which, as far as I could tell, consisted of some crude bark structures, lots of chalk flower drawings, and daily Fish recitals. The irony is that all this tree sitting and squatting caused a good deal of damage to the trees they are trying to save, knocking down branches and such.

This latest development is rather frightening, and I doubt it will be the last. The attention this stuff is generating is bound to attract more attention seekers and radicals. I suppose it's an exciting time to be here, but I'm here to go to school, not to live in exciting times.

By white devil (not verified) on 01 Mar 2008 #permalink

White Devil, I know that you would probably prefer to just ignore the protesters, but if you or any of your colleagues want to make a stand against them I'd suggest getting organized. If you're looking for inspiration try or look up Pro-Test on Facebook.

My advice is to avoid direct few-on-few confrontation, nutters tend to be better at that, and even when they're not they like to feel victimized. Go for larger scale peaceful shows of rejection and defiance.