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Animal Rights Extremists Target the University of California RULE College Campuses Targeted Nationwide

Posted: March 18, 2009

The Campaign Against UC
Primate Freedom Project
Jerry Vlasak
College Campuses Targeted Nationwide

The deliberate targeting of university employees involved in animal research is not a new phenomenon, nor is it limited to California. For example, a group calling itself Tucson H.A.A.N.D. ("Hooligans Attack at Night, Duh,") vandalized the home of Katalin Gothard, an animal researcher at University of Arizona's College of Medicine, on February 20, 2009.

Tucson H.A.A.N.D. claimed responsibility for the vandalism and another incident targeting a mining company employee the same morning in a communiqué issued a few days later. The group dedicated both acts to the four individuals arrested on February 20 in connection with incidents of harassment and intimidation against animal researchers at UC Berkeley and UC Santa Cruz.

Animal researchers at Wake Forest University in North Carolina were also targeted in February 2009. In a communiqué, the "Justice Department" claimed responsibility for mailing razor blades covered in rat poison to two scientists there and warned, "This is only the start…End the experiments on the primate captives or it only gets worse." The "Justice Department," an offshoot of Animal Liberation Front (ALF), the most active extreme animal rights movement in the country, injured several people using letter-bombs in the 1990s.

A sampling of other college campuses targeted by animal rights extremists, who have carried out acts of vandalism, animal release, arson and other types of property destruction, includes:

  • Johns Hopkins University, December 2008: Animal Liberation Brigade (ALB) claimed responsibility for sending "special letter bombs" to two animal researchers at Johns Hopkins University. The group accused of Johns Hopkins of being one of the "top violators of the Animal Welfare Act" and promised that while the two researchers were selected at random, "All responsible for the torture and oppression of innocent beings will soon receive the same treatment." ALB is a moniker used by an apparent animal rights extremist cell that has targeted UCLA in the past and has claimed responsibility for setting off pipe bombs at the offices of two companies with ties to animal testing in 2003.

  • Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), December 2007: Animal Liberation Front (ALF) claimed responsibility for vandalizing cars belonging to OHSU researcher Miles Joseph Novy outside his home in Portland. The group claimed to have taken graffiti and paint stripper to Novy's cars as a response to his reproductive research on primates, and warned that "blatant disregard for the earth, animals and it's [sic] resources shall not go unseen by the ever-watching eyes of the ALF… The only reason why people like Miles Novy sleep at night is because we let them."

  • University of Utah, April 2007: ALF claimed responsibility for vandalizing a vacant home in Riverton owned by neurobiology professor Audie Gene Leventhal. The group caused thousands of dollars in damage by breaking windows, gluing locks shut, and destroying his lawn, according to the communiqué released at the time. ALF has targeted Leventhal on other occasions, including in January 2007 when individuals vandalized his house in South Jordan and destroyed six windows with acid. The communiqué assured Leventhal that "we will be back repeatedly to destroy your property until animals no longer die for your blood money… Until you leave the torture business we'll continue to turn your life upside down."

  • Louisiana State University (LSU), April 2005: ALF claimed responsibility for breaking into a biology lab at LSU, where they released caged mice, glued locks shut, broke windows and aquarium glass, and spray-painted ALF slogans on walls. LSU's student newspaper received an email with a link to ALF's communiqué about the incident on the Web site for Bite Back magazine, a support publication for ALF and other groups that commit criminal acts on behalf of animal rights. ALF also claimed responsibility for a September 2003 break-in at LSU's School of Veterinary Medicine, which resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage.

  • University of Iowa (UI), November 2004: ALF took credit for pouring acid on research documents, destroying computers and removing more than 400 animals. In the communiqué released afterwards, ALF described the act as "a methodical effort to cripple the UI psychology department's animal research. ALF also sent copies of the video tape of the incident to the FBI and media.

  • Brigham Young University (BYU), July 2004: Fires burned two tractors and more than 3,000 pounds of cardboard at Ellsworth Farm, an animal husbandry building on the BYU campus in Provo, Utah. In March 2005, Jason Hall was charged with a misdemeanor for his alleged role in setting the fires. Two other men, Harrison David Burrows and Joshua Demmitt, were already serving sentences of 2 1/2 years for their part in the fires, which they admitted setting on behalf of ALF.

  • University of Minnesota, April 1999: Activists "liberated" 166 animals from the university and damaged and vandalized equipment, causing $700,000 of damage.

  • Harvard University, 1999: A letter sent to a Harvard researcher and containing razor blades read, "You have until autumn 2000 to release all your primate captives and get out of the vivisection industry. If you do not heed our warning, your violence will be turned back upon you." The "Justice Department" claimed responsibility for the mailing, which was part of an intended act of violence in which 80 researchers at different universities received threatening letters booby-trapped with razor blades.

  • Cornell University, October 1997: Members of Band of Mercy, an earlier incarnation of ALF, destroyed files, ruined blood samples, confiscated paperwork and release six cows from their stalls at the university's Animal Teaching and Research Unit in Ithaca, NY.

  • Michigan State University (MSU), 1992: A firebombing of an animal research laboratory at MSU destroyed years of research and caused $2.5 million in damages. The group also vandalized an MSU mink research farm nearby, damaging equipment and releasing animals from their cages.

Rodney Coronado, a longtime spokesperson for the most active extremist environmental and animal rights movements in the U.S. who was involved in the incident, served over three years in prison for aiding and abetting arson.


In an interview with an MSU newspaper in 2004, Coronado defended his activity, including the acts at MSU. "I wish I could do it again, only I wish I could take all of the animals out of the environmental fur farm… I have absolutely no regrets, and I hope the same thing continues to happen at MSU and every other college campus that does animal research."


Coronado also discussed an MSU arson carried out by environmental extremists several years after the 1992 fire. The explosion and fire at MSU's Agriculture Hall on New Year's Eve 1999 caused more than $1 million in damage.


Coronado attributed the continued targeting of MSU by members of the animal rights and environmental rights movements to university practices. "It is not like there are the very same people lurking around the shadows, waiting for the moment to strike," Coronado said. "It is totally determined by what is going on at the university."


  • University of Arizona, April 1989: ALF claimed responsibility for breaking into university research labs, where they set two fires and released more than 1,100 laboratory animals, causing an estimated $100,000 in damage.

  • University of California, Davis, 1987: ALF claimed responsibility for an arson at a UC Davis veterinary laboratory that caused $3.5 million in damage.

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