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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?

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]

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