U.S. Senate votes to hammer ALF

From: Animal People July/August 1999

WASHINGTON D.C.––A joint House/Senate conference committee is considering whether two Senate amendments to reinforce the Animal Enterprise Protection Act of 1992 should be part of the reconciled version of the Violent and Repeat Juvenile Offender Accountability and Rehabilitation Act, which is to be sent to both the House and Senate for final approval later in the 106th Congress.

The amendments were added to S.254, passed by the Senate on May 20, but were not in a similar bill, HR.1501, approved by the House of Representatives on June 17.

Section 1652 of S.254 would provide the death penalty as a possible punishment for murder committed as a crime defined by the Animal Enterprise Protection Act; would multiply the minimum prison term for any violation of the act from one year to five; and would raise the maximum fine to “double the amount of damages” done by a violation.

In addition, Section 1652 would add to the Animal Enterprise Protection Act language prescribing a five-to-20-year prison term, plus a possible fine, for anyone using fire or explosive devices to harm an animal enterprise, such as a farm, fur store, or lab. Section 1653 would create “a national clearinghouse” within the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, “for information on incidents of crime and terrorism” allegedly “committed against or directed at any animal enterprise,” or associated person, or “committed against or directed at any commercial activity because of the perceived impact” it might have on the environment.

Minnesota raid

Momentum favoring the S.254 amendments grew after an April 5 vandalism at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. The Minneapolis raid was the first since the Animal Enterprise Protection Act took effect to follow a pattern characterizing many of the most publicized ALF actions during the 1980s.

Claimed by the ALF, and apparently achieved without forced entry, the raid did an estimated $2 million worth of damage at 12 laboratories housed in two different buildings. An ALF communique distributed with a 10-minute videotape of the action said 48 mice, 36 white rats, 27 white pigeons, and five salamanders were taken from the labs.

Fourteen of the pigeons, one of whom had a broken leg, were recovered on April 8 in a cornfield near Woodbury, Minnesota. Three white rats were found alive in the same cornfield, along with four white rats who had died from hypothermia, and one white rat whose remains were partially eaten.

The University of Minnesota uses about 152,000 animals per year in research.

The most serious research casualty of the raid, university spokespersons said, was the destruction of an incubator holding brain cells from human participants in an Alzheimer’s disease project headed by Walter Low, MD––who does not do animal research, he told Jim Dawson of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

“In the same building,” Low said, “there are animal labs. Those areas were secured, however, so they got into my lab.”

Two weeks after the raid, the Minnesota state senate unanimously endorsed an amendment to a an anti-crime bill, passed 62-2, which would impose triple damages on persons convicted of “unauthorized release of animals” and would criminalize claiming credit for illegal animal releases.

Utah ALF

The language of the S.254 federal amendments most directly responds, however, to the ALF campaign against Utah fur farmers waged during 1995-1998, eventually broken up by BATF, the FBI, and local authorities.

In a related incident, Salt Lake City residents Eben Andrew McKenzie, 25, and Dustin Chappell Black, 24, were charged on April 14 with retaliating against a witness, Clinton Colby Ellerman, 22, by allegedly chasing him and, in McKenzie’s case, allegedly threatening to kill him.

Ellerman, wrote Sheila R. McCann of the Salt Lake Tribune, was “negotiating a plea deal with federal prosecutors in the bombing of a Utah mink feed plant” in 1997. He was earlier convicted of releasing mink from a farm in South Jordan. Ellerman’s brother, Douglas Joshua Ellerman, 20, pleaded guilty to participating in the bombing, and is serving a seven-year prison term. Clinton Colby Ellerman and three other men are to go to trial for the bombing on July 6.

ELF

The S.254 amendments also bear apparent reference to a string of arsons plus an Oregon mink farm raid claimed by the Earth Liberation Front, beginning in 1996, including the October 1998 Vail ski lift arson. Some of the ELF actions have been claimed anonymously as joint acts also involving the ALF.

The most recent ELF incident was a fire on December 26, 1998 at the U.S. forest Industries headquarters in Medford, Oregon. On May 9, however, just before the S.254 amendments were approved, a fire set by persons using the same technique did $150,000 worth of damage to the Childers Meat Company, in Eugene, Oregon. That fire was reportedly claimed by the ALF 19 days later.

An ongoing ANIMAL PEOPLE investigation has found hints that the Earth Liberation Front may actually be the fictitious cover of several wise-use wiseguy agents provocateur, two of whom we have identified in proximity to the issues and locations involved in most of the alleged ELF attacks. The limited available information about the ongoing federal probe of the actions, however, indicates that the investigators have not even casually considered this possibility.

Other actions

In New Jersey, ALF statements have since March 1997 claimed credit for vandalizing two butcher shops, fur stores in five cities, as many as 125 fast food restaurants, and on March 27, 1999, firebombing three trucks belonging to the Big Apple Circus.

In Irondequoit, New York, police in February 1999 found nine fake pipe bombs, some of them planted with graffiti protesting a bait-and-shoot deer cull in Irondequoit and Durand-Eastman Park. However, one such fake bomb was found––with no note––at a primary school across town from the park. The deer killing has been unpopular with both animal lovers and hunters. About 750 deer have been killed in the park since 1993.

In Chatham, Ontario, Gary Yourofsky, 28, of Royal Oak, Michigan, on April 27 drew six months in prison for releasing 1,500 mink from a fur farm in 1997. Yourofsky was sentenced soon after Pat Dodson, 49, of Ferndale, Michigan, and Hilma Ruby, 61, of Rochester Hills, completed 90-day sentences for the same action. Yourofsky’s uncle, Alan Hoffman, and Robyn Weiner, both of Farmington Hills, received community service in exchange for testimony against Yourofsky.

In Scone, New South Wales, Australia, two men and two women who were stopped on suspicion of drunk driving were charged on May 23 with having released 4,000 pigs from the Parkville Piggery.

The Australian organization Animal Liberation invaded the Parkville Piggery in a 1995 protest against conditions there, but Animal Liberation president Mark Pearson disclaimed any association with the May 23 raid.

On June 9, two men allegedly chained Hill Grove Farm owners Christopher Brown, 60, and his wife Katherine Brown, 62, to a fence near the farm in Witney, Oxon, England. Hill Grove is the only licensed breeder of cats for biomedical research in Britain, and has reportedly been scene of frequent demonstrations for more than 15 years.