An incident at the home of a University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC) biomedical researcher is being investigated by authorities for possible links to animal rights extremism.
On February 24, 2008, six masked demonstrators attempted to enter the researcher's home by force, according to Los Angeles County court documents. One of the intruders allegedly hit the researcher's husband with an unidentified object before running off with the rest of the group.
The researcher may have been targeted by animal rights extremists; weeks before the incident, sidewalks and driveways in front of several UCSC biomedical researchers' homes were vandalized with chalk condemning alleged animal abuse at UCSC.
While no one has claimed responsibility for the incident, University of California scientists have increasingly been targeted by animal rights extremists. For example, in February, the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), the most active extreme animal rights movement in the country, claimed responsibility for firebombing the home of a UCLA primate researcher.
Increasingly, the movement's rhetoric has endorsed the deliberate targeting of individuals. Jerry Vlasak, co-founder of the Californian-based North American Animal Liberation Press Office, which provides information and statements from the extremist cells, has referred to the notion of murdering medical researchers in order to save laboratory animals as a "morally justifiable solution."
There has also been a proliferation of Web sites providing the names, addresses and other information of scientists and researchers. Given the loose structure of the movement, there is little to restrain an anonymous cell, or person, from committing an act of physical violence against a target.
A day after the incident in Santa Cruz, the University of California obtained a restraining order against the Animal Liberation Brigade, the Animal Liberation Front and UCLA Primate Freedom Project, which posts on its Web site photographs, home addresses and other information about UCLA researchers who it claims conduct experiments using animals. Several individuals were also named, including Lindy Greene, a press officer with the North American Animal Liberation Press Office.