Biology Medicine Politics Science Surgery

Animal rights terrorists may have struck again…


…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 – A UC Santa Cruz faculty member whose biomedical research using animals sheds light on the causes of breast cancer and neurological diseases was the target of an attack Sunday afternoon, reportedly by animal rights activists.

UCSC Chancellor George Blumenthal confirmed late Monday that an off-campus home invasion by six masked intruders occurred at a faculty member’s home. In a statement, Blumenthal called the incident “very disturbing.”

Santa Cruz police reported that six people wearing bandanas tried to break into a Westside home just before 1 p.m., and that one of the family members, not the faculty member, was attacked before the intruders fled. The male victim had made sure his wife and children were safe in the back of the house before he confronted the attackers. He suffered minor injuries after being hit with an unknown object. None of the other four people in the house were injured.

The name of the faculty member was not released, but UCSC said assurances have been made to protect the faculty member and the family – in addition to other staff and students who have been targeted by animal rights activists in recent weeks, campus spokesman Jim Burns said.

“This represents an escalation, breaking into somebody’s house,” Burns said.

Apparently this was just the most recent incident in a string of escalating harassment against animal researchers:

On Feb. 12, Blumenthal sent a message to staff saying there had been several recent incidents of intimidation to faculty and staff, “purportedly over laboratory research involving animals. The incidents include harassing phone calls and graffiti vandalism at the victims’ homes.

“No claims of responsibility have been made, and police are investigating. These actions come in the wake of dangerous incidents involving researchers at other campuses, including UCLA.”


As seems to be the case much of the time, these probable animal rights activists were the gang that couldn’t shoot straight–fortunately:

Witnesses to the Westside attack provided police with a license plate of the vehicle the attackers fled in, Escalante said.

Early Monday, Escalante would not confirm a motive or say if the attack was related to animal activists. He could not be reached to comment late Monday.

Earlier in the day, Escalante said of the suspects: “They were wearing bandanas … and were screaming and trying to break into the house. Witnesses gave us information on the suspect vehicle. We tracked it to Riverside Avenue. We obtained a search warrant. We served the search warrant last night. It’s relative to a home invasion and right now the case is continuing. We’ve got evidence we’re processing.”

Seized in the 9:50 p.m. raid were clothes, cell phones and boxes of paperwork, which Escalante said showed evidence of possible other attacks.

I suppose it’s possible that this isn’t related to animal rights terrorism, but it doesn’t seem likely, given the background and some reports from activist websites that seem to admit more or less that there was some sort of protest at the faculty member’s house, characterized as a “legal demonstration that took place on the same morning at the home of a vivisector at UC Santa Cruz.” (Yeah, trying to break into someone’s home and assaulting a family member sure seems “legal” to me.) Indymedia also posted video of the police raid:

Your browser is not able to display this multimedia content.

Your browser is not able to display this multimedia content.

All whining aside from some of the kids on these videos, if activists physically assault someone, as they apparently did at the investigators’ home, it is not unreasonable for the police to act assuming that the suspects are potentially dangerous. On the other hand, although I’m not sure whether the knowledge would have changed their reaction, the kids jeering the police in these videos probably had no idea that an attack had occurred or that the “demonstration” to which they were referring had in fact turned into a home invasion designed to intimidate. In any case, hopefully, more information will be forthcoming soon that will clarify things. Assuming the most likely scenario (that this was indeed animal rights idiots tied to SHAC), as mentioned in the article, it represents a disturbing escalation to direct home invasion when the researcher and family are present. We as researchers who use animals in our work can’t count on animal rights activists being this inept forever. Sooner or later, somebody’s going to be hurt or killed if these clowns aren’t stopped, and, given the number of guns in the U.S., it could be researchers, their families, or the animal rights activists themselves. I’d really hate to see the situation in the U.S. degenerate into what has been occurring in the U.K. over the last several years. The epicenter here at the moment seems to be southern California; it needs to be nipped in the bud now. As I have pointed out many times before, the objective of these animal rights terrorists is not to improve the lot of research animals or insure that they are not subjected to excessive pain or distress, it is to shut down animal research altogether.

One good bit of news from the article that Abel didn’t mention is that the court granted the injunction that UCLA sought (and that I wrote about last week):

Thursday, a Los Angeles County Judge issued a temporary restraining order against animal rights groups and activists accused of threatening UCLA employees and graduate students because they conduct research using animals.

The order by Superior Court Judge Gerald Rosenberg forbids the activists from engaging in acts of harassment and threats of violence, and requires that they stay away from anybody who is known to be a university employee involved in animal research, UCLA’s attorney John C. Hueston said.

It also ordered the activists and their groups to remove the researchers’ personal information from Web sites that name them as targets of their protest.

“That’s what’s been so distressing for the faculty members,” Hueston said.

Here’s hoping there is ultimately a permanent injunction. It may not be likely to stop the die-hards (and, indeed, that Energizer Bunny of animal rights hypocrisy and advocating violence against researchers who use animals, Dr. Jerry Vlasak, has already predictably popped up to say that the lawsuit wouldn’t deter protesters), but at least it would provide a tool for really throwing the book at animal rights protesters who are caught violating the order, as well as a tool to shut down the websites with researchers’ personal information on it.

ADDENDUM: It looks like a good time for a donation to Americans for Medical Progress.

A few other resources against animal rights extremists:

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

Comments are closed.


Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading