L.A. Mayor's Neighbors Take on Activists

In mid-June a couple dozen animal rights activists assembled outside of the home of Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn. The activists, affiliated with the Animal Defense League, were there to protest policies at Los Angeles city animal shelters.

Neighbors of individuals targeted by home protests are increasingly taking the offensive against such activists and the Hahn’s neighbors were no exception. About 20 minutes into the protest several of Hahn’s neighbors emerged from their homes to douse the activist with Super Soakers.

Animal Defense League activist Jerry Vlasak told the L.A. Daily News,

All we wanted to do was talk to him about the city’s policies and who he is going to appoint as general manager. We were demonstrating peacefully for about 20 minutes when some of his neighbors came out and got raucous.

They seemed intoxicated and three of them had Super Soakers and started pelting us with water. I thought we were fairly restrained.

Given Vlasak’s rhetoric, it was likely the neighbors with the water guns who were restrained. This is the same Vlasak, after all, who has openly suggested the value of emulating the anti-abortion wackos who assassinate abortion providers,

I donÂ’t think youÂ’d have to kill — assassinate — too many [researchers] Â… I think for 5 lives, 10 lives, 15 human lives, we could save a million, 2 million, 10 million non-human lives.

Vlasak made that statement, by the way, at Animal Rights 2003 where he was representing PETA front-group Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

And, of course, as in previous home demonstrations, a number of the activists showed up wearing their ever-popular masks.

The Super Soaking quickly degenerated into a mini-brawl according to the L.A. Daily News,

Vlasak said the demonstration came to an end with shouting between his group and residents and included an alteration where someone grabbed his video camera and threw it to the ground. However, he said, the incident would not deter the demonstrators, who will continue their protests.

Source:

Protest in front of Hahn’s house turns into a wet mess. Rick Orlov, L.A. Daily News, June 15, 2004.

Federal Judges Tosses Five Year Old Animal Defense League Lawsuit

In 1998, the Animal Defense League sued New York’s Syracuse Police Department, accusing police there of illegally interfering with their First and Fourth Amendment rights. In October 2003, a judge dismissed that lawsuit, saying police acted appropriately.

The lawsuit stems from the arrest of seven Animal Defense League members by the Syracuse Police Department from February 1996 to January 1997. The arrests stemmed from protests the Animal Defense League held outside of fur stores in Syracuse, New York. Many of the charges that the activists were arrested on were never pursued in court.

The ADL argued that the arrests constituted an effort by police to “deliberately and systematically” deny them their Constitutional rights and sued. The ADL was seeking compensation for the violations of $1 million for the group, $500,000 for each activist who was allegedly wrongfully arrested, and $100,000 for each alleged example of police misconduct.

U.S. District Judge Neal McCurn ruled that police acted appropriately in arresting the activists and dismissed the lawsuit.

Sources:

Judge dismisses animal rights group’s lawsuit against police. Associated Press, October 17, 2003.

Animal Rights Activists’ Lawsuit Over Arrests Tossed. John O’Brien, The Post-Standard (Syracuse, New York), October 17, 2003.

Animal Defense League Plan To Sue City Police. John O’Brien, The Post-Standard (Syracuse, New York), March 31, 1998.

Dan Murphy's Excellent Commentary on AR2002

Dan Murphy, the editor Meat Marketing & Technology magazine, wrote an excellent account of an appearance he made at Animal Rights 2002.

Murphy was invited to give a short speech to activists covering areas where industry and activists might have some common ground. As you might expect, Murphy was largely wasting his time. As he wrote,

Not surprisingly, my remarks had about as much of a lasting impact on the more than 800 diehard activists in attendance as the “lecture” I gave my cat Riley last week about not clawing the couch.

. . .

Unfortunately, the overwhelming attitude among speakers, disciples and exhibitors alike encompassed a migraine-inducing mix of virulent anti-meat propaganda, bizarre animal action campaigns and a few frightening glimpses into the mind and soul of crusaders who have truly lost the plot.

Murphy relayed a long litany of things that the assembled activists were against as well as some choice quotes from people like Ingrid Newkirk (“You just look at animals — just look into their eyes — and you can tell they’re people. It’s that simple.”) and Paul Watson (“There is no way to change our laws without using violence, and we cannot shy away from violence as a crucial arm of the movement. We can all put ourselves on the line. It doesn’t take a four-year degree to call in a bomb threat.”)

But Murphy was brilliant in tearing apart a bizarre claim by the Animal Defense League’s Jerry Vlasak who argued that violence was compatible with the nonviolent outlook of the civil rights movement.

“Dr. [Martin Luther] King said that destroying property doesn’t violate the principle of non-violence,” [Violence] is part of every successful social justice movement.” (Jerry Vlasak, of the Animal Defense League). That last quote angers me.

Narrow-mindedness in the service of one’s chosen mission is at least understandable. But some of the animal rights leadership obviously enjoys selling a not-so-subtly packaged message of violence in service to the cause.

When the pro-violence folks quoted above arrogantly tried to claim King as a spiritual ancestor to the extremists responsible for blowing up trucks, bombing buildings and destroying the property of legitimate business people, I glanced around at the SRO crowd packed into the room, and the mostly young, predominantly female and almost exclusively white audience members were all nodding their heads in earnest agreement.

Were the real Dr. King still alive I can only imagine that he would disagree with far greater conviction. I won’t digress too extensively here, but allow me to share just a couple relevant quotes for those losers who have a dream that King would somehow relish their sick sanctioning of property destruction:

. . .

To suggest that arson in the name of the “cause” would be approved by Dr. King — whose own home was fire-bombed by white bigots passionate about their “cause” — is an ignorant interpretation of history at best.

To invoke the name of Martin Luther King on behalf of violent ALF types who are past even the fringe of legitimacy is a venal, bankrupt attempt at credibility that puts an Orwellian spin on a chapter of American social history about which I doubt more than a handful of the activist types at that Animal Rights meeting have more than an MTV-like video clip awareness of its significance.

In fact, using Vlasak’s perverse version of nonviolence, the fire bombing of King’s house was morally acceptable because nobody was hurt — only property was destroyed. According to Vlasak philosophy, somebody who might burn down a black church or firebomb an abortion clinic is not engaged in violence so long as it is only property that is destroyed.

That these sorts of pedantic arguments actually seem to find widespread acceptance in the animal rights movement is indicative of just how marginal the movement is. Nobody outside the movement buys these sorts of arguments anymore than the buy the argument of extremist anti-abortion advocates that destroying an abortion clinic is simply a valid act of defense on behalf of unborn children.

Source:

Animal Rights conclave window to weird world of act-out activists Dan Murphy, MeatingPlace.Com, July 12, 2002.

CAFT, Terrorism and Leniency for Peter Schnell

As I’ve reported before, the Coalition to Abolish the Fur Trade has in the passed faced a lawsuit from Jacques Ferber Furs which accused CAFT of violating the civil provisions of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization.

CAFT, of course, denies that it is engaged in anything illegal but in May 2000, CAFT member Joseph Bateman was sentenced to jail time for felony criminal mischief and possession of an “instrument of crime.”

Now, it turns out, that Peter Schnell — who was sentenced in January 20 two years in prison for planning to blow up dairy trucks — also is has been affiliated with CAFT and the Animal Defense League (which was also named in Ferber’s RICO lawsuit).

New Jersey’s Asbury Park Press reported on January 30 that,

For Schnell, a 1998 graduate of Ocean Township HIgh School, the California arrest was not his first. In October 1998, Schnell was one of nine anti-fur protesters arrested after they chained themselves to security scanners and blocked entrance into Macy’s at Freehold Raceway Mall, Freehold Township, during the store’s grand opening.

Although sentenced to serve time in jail, Schnell was released on house arrest after several days.

“After I completely my house arrest, I am going to be back out there fighting for the animals,” Schnell said at the time.

He was also a regular at protests organized by the Coalition to Abolish the Fur Trade and the Animal Defense League. In his high school yearbook for his senior year he is quoted a saying, “Animal Liberation has to come soon and we have to fight as hard as we possibly can to make sure this is accomplished. Please Go Vegan.”

Along with providing additional ammunition to existing and possible future lawsuits against CAFT and the Animal Defense League, this also seriously undermines the judge’s decision in Schnell’s case to give him the minimum possible sentence. Given Schnell’s previous record, the judge’s decision not to give Schnell a longer sentence is mystifying.

Source:

Dairy terror plotter gets jail. Naomi Meuller, Asbury Park Press, January 30, 2002.

Huntingdon Sues Activists

On April 19, Huntingdon Life Sciences announced that it was joining a lawsuit against “various animal rights organizations and affiliated individuals” who the company argues are involved in an “unlawful campaign of violence, intimidation, and harassment directed at the Company and Stephens Group of Little Rock, Arkansas, one of the Company’s significant shareholders.” Stephens Group had already filed the lawsuit against the activists, which HLS seeks to join.

HLS’s amended complaint was filed in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey and charges Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty, Voices for Animals, Animal Defense League, In Defense of Animals, and several individuals with violating state and federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) statutes. According to an HLS press release,

The suit requests injunctive relief to stop the defendants and those acting in concert with them from engaging in acts and threats of force, violence and intimidation directed at the Company, Stephens, and their respective employees, customers, shareholders and investors. It also seeks an award of monetary damages for losses incurred as a result of the defendants’ unlawful conduct.

Huntingdon’s executive chairman Andrew Baker said in the release, “This suit represents a next step in the Company’s initiatives to reign in the company of a small band of animal rights extremists who are seeking to destroy our Company and undermine the fields of scientific discovery which rely on the Company’s crucial work. Unlike the activists, who defy the law to terrorize people and entities to bow to their demands, we will seek proper redress in the US legal system.”

Source:

Huntingdon sues animal activists. Huntingdon Life Sciences, Press Release, April 19, 2001.

Quiet facet of drug industry is drawing a loud reaction. Kate Coscarelli and John P. Martin, New Jersey Star-Ledger, Apri 8, 2001.

Protesters Arrested, Beagles Stolen from HLS Facility In New Jersey

The Animal Defense League organized a 100-person strong protest outside a Huntingdon Life Sciences facility in New Jersey just one day after 14 dogs were stolen from the lab. The Animal Liberation Front claimed responsibility for the theft.

Three people were arrested at the protest including Adam Weissman, 23; Nicholas Hensey, 22; Justin Kelley, 18; and an unidentified juvenile. Police said Darius Fullmer, 24, would be served with a summons after he was released from the hospital. Fullmer was one of about a dozen protesters who police sprayed with pepper spray to subdue.

Fullmer — one of the main organizers the protest — told an Associated Press reporter that the ADL fully supported the ALF action. “Fourteen innocent creatures have been rescued from a short life of pain and a brutal death.”

In a press release, Frankie Trull of the Foundation for Biomedical Research condemned the theft of the dogs,

This burglary and theft is the act of misguided, uninformed radicals who respect neither the law nor the vast body of medical and scientific knowledge that animal research has contributed to the field of human and animal health.

Unless the general public firmly rejects this criminal malfeasance and the hooligan perpetrators behind it, all medical and scientific progress is at risk. The anti-research cell of the animal rights movement would have you believe that pets are being subjected to painful experiments with no scientific validity but nothing could be further from the truth.

At the New Jersey protest, many of the activists joined in chanting, “We know where you live” to the occupants of the laboratory. Meanwhile in the United Kingdom, activists opposed to HLS are successfully using terrorist tactics to go after companies attempting to work with HLS.

Winterflood Securities, one of only two firms in Great Britain willing to deal in shares of the troubled company, recently dropped HLS after animal rights activists engaged in an intense campaign of abusive and threatening calls to Winterflood employees’ homes combined with picketing outside their homes.

The Daily Telegraph quoted an unidentified Winterflood executive describing the firm’s problems,

[The wife of the chairman of the company received threatening phone calls.] She had never heard such abusive language. They were phoning other employees as well. They said we know where you live. We know where your children live. We know where your friends live.

It became too difficult. one director returned to his home on Sunday with his seven-year-old and two-year-old and found 60 protesters there. His kids were in tears. His wife was terrified. The 80-year-old mother of one employee received threatening phone calls. It is all right for us to be brave, but different for our wives and kids.

Feeling it had no choice after the government refused its request for the level of police protection it felt it required, Winterflood Securities announced it would no longer trade HLS stock. Shortly afterward, the only other brokerage house dealing in the stock in the United Kingdom, Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein, also announced it would no longer handle trades of the stock.

Sources:

Extremists terrorise animal lab brokers. Richard Alleyne, The Daily Telegraph (UK), March 30, 2001.

Four activists arrested. Lori Hinnant, Associated Press, April 3, 2001.

Foundation for Biomedical Research Condemns Theft Of 14 Dogs From The Huntingdon Life Sciences Facility. Foundation for Biomedical Research, Press Relesae, April 2, 2001.

Dogs taken from frequently protested lab. The Associated Press, April 1, 2001.