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.


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

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.


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

Animal Rights Activists Sue Police Over March 2001 Arrest

Animal rights activists Jerry and Pamelyn Vlasak filed a lawsuit this month over their treatment during an animal rights protest in Las Vegas, Nevada, in March 2001.

The Vlasak’s were part of a small protest against Stephens Group, an investment firm that until recently had ties with animal testing firm Huntingdon Life Sciences.

The Vlasaks claim they were physically assaulted by police and private security guards.

Why wait more than a year to file the lawsuit? Because in February 2002, one of the officers who arrested them was charged with armed robbery. As the Associated Press put it, “Cal Potter, the Las Vegas lawyer representing the Vlasaks, said the allegations are bolstered by other problems facing the two officers named in the lawsuit.”

Of course the Vlasaks don’t exactly have a spotless record either, including a record of numerous arrests and occasional convictions for their actions in animal rights protests.

A quick search finds Pamelyn Vlasak was arrested in August 1999 at a protest against Circus Vargas. She was eventually convicted of violating a Los Angeles city ordinance and sentenced to 30 days in jail.

In August 2000 the Vlasaks were arrested at the Los Angeles Sports Arena protesting the Ringling Brothers Circus.

And the Vlasaks routinely claim that police assault them. Pamelyn claimed that police assaulted her during her 1999 arrest, Jerry claimed that police tied him to a pole and took turns kicking him after a 1997 anti-fur arrest — pretty much every time these folks get arrested, they offer the same litany that they weren’t doing anything wrong (even when they were flagrantly violating the law) and that the police inevitably abused and mistreated them.

That’s a nice schtick that plays well with the No Compromise folks, but courts have so far not fallen for this routine.


Animal rights activists file civil rights lawsuit in Las Vegas. Associated Press, May 20, 2002.

6 Arrested, 2 Hurt at LA Sports Arena Circus Protest. No Compromise, August 2, 2000.

Activist sentenced to jail. Laura Tate, Round Up( Los Angeles Pierce College), February 2, 2002.