Animal Rights Extremists Target the University of California
The Campaign Against UC
Posted: March 18, 2009
Since 2006, University of California (UC) employees involved in animal research across the state, including individuals from UCLA, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Irvine, UC San Francisco, UC San Diego, and UC Santa Cruz have been the targets of a widespread campaign of intimidation and violence by animal rights extremists. In addition to having their homes and cars vandalized, and in some cases firebombed, employees at these universities have been harassed and received death threats.
Incidents targeting individuals and property associated with the UC system include the following:
On May 3, 2011, two Los Angeles-based animal rights extremist cells falsely claimed that letters, each containing "a dangerous present," had been sent the previous week to Edythe London, a UCLA scientist, and Joaquin Fuster, a retired UCLA scientist. The hoax was claimed jointly by the "Justice Department," a group that has mailed contaminated razor blades to animal researchers at other U.S. universities and injured several people using letter-bombs in the 1990s, and the Animal Liberation Brigade (ALB), which claimed responsibility for setting off pipe bombs at the offices of two companies tied to animal testing in 2003. Both are offshoots of the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), the most active extreme animal rights movement in the country.
On November 22, 2010, the "Justice Department" claimed responsibility for sending razor blades to David Jentsch, a UCLA neuroscientist frequently targeted by animal rights extremists for his research on primates. The group warned Jenstch, "STOP YOUR SICK EXPERIMENTS OR HELL AWAITS YOU." The group's claim that the razor blades were AIDS-tainted was not confirmed, nor was its claim that it also sent "rusty razor blades tainted with AIDS-infected blood" to Stephanie Groman, a UCLA graduate student working with Jentsch. A second communiqué issued by the group the same week warned animal researchers more broadly, "Mark our words, we will destroy all who fall into our focus."
On July 10, 2009, a home and three vehicles belonging to UC Irvine pathologist Michael Selsted were vandalized with paint and paint stripper. ALF claimed responsibility for the act, which included spray-painting "killer" on Selsted's garage door. In its communiqué, ALF noted that "We can only hope that one day someone will make you suffer as much as the animals in the laboratories you work in."
- On March 7, 2009, a car belonging to Jentsch was blown up outside his home by a homemade explosive. ALB took credit for the attack in a communiqué the following day. The statement included a message to the FBI, ostensibly in response to recent attempts by California law enforcement agencies to crack down on animal rights extremists' criminal activity. "The more legit activists you [expletive] with the more it inspires us since wer're [sic] the people whom you least suspect and when we hit we hit hard."
- On November 27, 2008, a UCLA clinic in Santa Monica was vandalized with red paint and its locks glued shut. In a communiqué, ALF claimed responsibility for targeting the facility, which it described as an "outpost of the murderous UCLA medical department."
- On November 20, 2008, a car bombing destroyed two vehicles outside a woman's home. Students and Workers for the Liberation of UCLA Primates claimed responsibility for the attack in a communiqué saying the attack was intended for UCLA researcher Goran Lacan. The actual owner of the vehicles, who was mistakenly targeted by the group, was asleep inside the house at the time of the incident. Students and Workers for the Liberation of UCLA Primates claimed responsibility for several other acts in 2008, including vandalizing three cars in the Santa Monica driveway of a UCLA researcher and stealing three UCLA vans from Riverside and Chino Hills.
- On August 2, 2008, a firebomb described by authorities as a "Molotov cocktail on steroids" was lit on the porch of David Feldheim, a UC Santa Cruz (UCSC) molecular biologist, causing a fire and a large amount of smoke to spread throughout the home. Feldheim and his family, who had been sleeping inside, managed to escape down a fire ladder. The biologist was one of 13 UCSC faculty members identified on a pamphlet found at a Santa Cruz coffee shop several days before the incident. The pamphlet provided photos and home addresses of the individuals listed, along with a warning, "Animal abusers everywhere beware; we know where you live; we know where you work; we will never back down until you end your abuse." A second firebomb destroyed a vehicle owned by another UCSC animal researcher. A third researcher received a threatening phone message at home the day of the firebombings.
- On June 3, 2008, ALF claimed responsibility for the firebombing of a UCLA commuter van parked overnight in a park-and-ride lot in Irvine. Since then, several other vans have been vandalized and stolen by various groups targeting UCLA.
- On February 24, 2008, six masked demonstrators attempted to enter the home of a UCSC scientist during her daughter's birthday party. One of the intruders allegedly hit her husband with an unidentified object before running off with the rest of the group. Four individuals were arrested in March 2009 in connection to the incident. The suspects are also accused of harassing and intimidating UC – Berkeley researchers during demonstrations in front of the researchers' homes in October 2007 and January 2008.
- On February 3, 2008, a firebomb left at the home of Edythe London, a UCLA primate researcher, ignited and caused damage to her front door. ALF claimed responsibility for the act in a communiqué. ALF took credit for flooding London's home three months earlier. In its communiqué at that time, ALF threatened to return. "It would have been just as easy to burn your house down Edythe. As you slosh around your flooded house consider yourself fortunate this time." ALF has also threatened London and her family and claimed responsibility for sending "blood and rat poisoned covered razor blades" to her home.
- On June 24, 2007, an incendiary device was left under the car of Arthur Rosenbaum, the chief of pediatric ophthalmology at UCLA's Jules Stein Eye Institute. ALB claimed responsibility for the attempted firebombing in a communiqué, which included the doctor's address and warned: "you need to watch your back because next time you are in the operating room or walking to your office you just might be facing injections into your eyes like the primates, you sick twisted [expletive]." The communiqué also contends that activists must realize that "just demonstrating won't stop this kind of evil." Weeks later, Rosenbaum's wife received a letter with razor blades stating, "If your husband can't stop himself from his obsession to torture monkeys maybe you can. If not then tell him that we will do exactly what he does to monkeys to you."
- On June 30, 2006, an incendiary device intended for Lynn Fairbanks, the director of the Center for Primate Neuroethology at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute, was mistakenly left outside a neighbor's home. ALF claimed responsibility for the attempted attack in a communiqué, claiming that they had placed a "molotov cocktail" on Fairbanks' doorstep because of her involvement in animal experimentation. Arson investigators said the device failed to ignite, but had it functioned properly, it would have made escape difficult or impossible.
The activity of animal rights extremists in the Los Angeles area in recent years extends well beyond the UC system. For example, ALF has claimed responsibility for acts of harassment vandalism aimed at Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Deputy Mayor Jimmy Blackman and their families. The city's Department of Animal Services and its former general manager, Guerdon Stuckey, have also been targeted.
On March 6, 2009, ALF claimed responsibility for vandalizing the home of Deborah Villar, the sister of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa with bottles of red paint. The communiqué issued about the attack listed Los Angeles Animal Services as the target, citing the mayor's refusal "to hire a new manager to stop the carnage of animals in our city." It warned Villaraigosa and his family, "next time we throw bottles, they'll be filled with gasoline." Villar was previously targeted in November 2007, when ALF claimed responsibility for vandalizing her home, stating, "The mayor is the person who can make the killing come to an end. This is why we covered Deborah's black SUV with tons of stripper and poured red paint all over the steps, walkway and fancy ornamental light fixtures. [Mayor] Villaraigosa deserves to be bumped off like the dogs and cats we witnessed with their eyes wide, terrified before they were bumped off. He got off way to [sic] easy."
ALF has also claimed responsibility for acts of vandalism against Deputy Mayor Blackman, including two at his home and one at the home of his parents. The group claimed to have glued locks shut and splattered red paint on the front porch of the Blackmans' home on December 30, 2008, in an effort to "bring attention to the blood being spilled because of their son Jimmy."
In response to the campaign against its faculty, the University of California's Board of Regents obtained a restraining order in early 2008, and later a preliminary injunction, prohibiting five individuals as well as ALF, ALB and the Primate Freedom Project, a group that has used its Web sites to post information about UCLA scientists, from harassing UCLA researchers.