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Militancy Rises Among Animal Rights Activists

April 24, 1986|BOB SIPCHEN

Although most activists for animal rights and animal welfare limit their activity to letter-writing campaigns, political lobbying, peaceful protests and similar nonviolent activity, a look at news clips for the past couple of years reveals that a small segment of the movement has become increasingly militant:

- May, 1984: The highly secretive Animal Liberation Front (ALF) broke into the University of Pennsylvania's Head Injury Research Laboratory, stole dozens of videotapes of research on primates and scrawled ALF on the walls.

- July, 1984: The ALF returned to the University of Pennsylvania and "liberated" two dogs, three cats and eight pigeons being used in a variety of research experiments at the School of Veterinary Medicine.

- September, 1984: Two phony bombs, apparently left by animal rights activists, were found near the homes of officials at UC Davis' Primate Research Center.

- November, 1984: The Animal Liberation Front allegedly spray-painted slogans and smashed windows at a medical laboratory in Lathrop, Calif., that supplies animals for medical research. Six days later, in England, the ALF claimed to have put rat poison in Mars bars because the company that makes the candy funds tooth decay experiments on monkeys.

- December, 1984: The ALF broke into the City of Hope in Duarte, "liberated" more than 100 research animals and sprayed slogans on buildings. The City of Hope also received bomb threats.

- January, 1985: The ALF in London allegedly firebombed the garage of Sir John Vane, co-winner of the 1982 Nobel Prize for Medicine (the prize was awarded for research into natural substances that affect blood clotting, considered a potential key to the prevention of heart attacks and strokes). The ALF also stoned or painted slogans on the homes of five other current or retired staff members of the medical research laboratory where Vane worked because of animal experiments performed at the lab. Later in the month, officials at UC San Diego canceled a seminar in which anesthetized dogs were to be used to demonstrate surgical techniques when the school's chief surgeon received a death threat.

- March, 1985: An animal rights activist attacked the home of the director of the Los Angeles Animal Control and Care Department, splattering red paint over his car and across the front of his house--reportedly because the pound was selling animals to local hospitals for medical research. In England the same month, the Animal Rights Militia claimed to have injected eggs with rat poison, apparently to protest "factory farming" techniques (in which, for example, five laying hens may spend their entire lives in one 20-by-18-inch cage).

- April, 1985: ALF members wearing ski masks broke into the lab at UC Riverside, damaged equipment, spray-painted slogans and "liberated" 467 laboratory animals.

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