Firebombings at Coulston, BLM boost calls for crackdown
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 2001:
ALAMOGORDO, New Mexico; LITCHFIELD, Calif.; SALT LAKE
CITY, Utah; LONDON, U.K.–As if on cue to ensure that animal
rights activism rates a high priority in the “war on terrorism,”
unknown persons on September 21 torched a storage building 200 feet
from the main chimpanzee facility at the Coulston Foundation in
Alamogordo, New Mexico, and on October 15 burned a hay barn at the
Bureau of Land Management’s Litchfield Wild Horse and Burro Corrals,
21 miles northeast of Susanville, California.
One unexploded incendiary device was found at the Coulston
Foundation, a longtime target of animal rights protest, and four
more at the BLM site. The Coulston Foundation fire was reported at
4:20 a.m. and the BLM fire at 4:30.
Resembling a series of arsons in the Northwest claimed by the
“Earth Liberation Front,” especially a November 1997 fire at the BLM
corrals near Burns, Oregon, the Litchfield blaze did an estimated
$85,000 worth of damage.
U.S. Senators Chuck Hagel (R-Nebraska) and John Edwards
(D-North Carolina) on October 3 jointly introduced a bill seeking
$450 million in federal funding to protect farms from terrorism, and
on October 4 the House Resources Committee voted to subpoena former
ELF publicist Craig Rosebraugh, who said in September that he would
no longer distribute ELF announcements.
After Representative Nick Rahall (D-West Virginia) objected
that U.S. marshalls had more urgent priorities after September 11
than tracking Rosebraugh, Represent-ative Scott McInnis (R-Colorado)
asserted that not issuing the subpoena would “give the green light to
terrorists on the environmental front.”
But which side of environmental issues those terrorists
represent is unclear.
The September 2001 edition of ANIMAL PEOPLE noted that 14 of
the 26 major arsons and other actions claimed by the ELF have come
either as Congress was close to passing bills opposed by wise-use
groups or was considering bills to protect animal use industries.
The other 12 major “ELF” actions have been “copy-cat”
offenses ending in criminal convictions of the alleged perpetrators.
Among the unsolved 14 were a May 1997 mink release at Mount
Angel, Oregon, in which mink were allegedly trampled by the
perpetrators, while Congress was considering legislation to help fur
farmers; a July 1997 arson at the Cavel West horse killing plant in
Redmond, Oregon, and the Burns fire, after Associated Press
exposed alleged illegal diversions of BLM wild horses to slaughter;
the June 1998 razing of two USDA Wildlife Services buildings in
Washington, while a bill to cut Wildlife Services funding was before
the House; the Vail, Colorado ski lift fire in October 1998,
ostensibly set to “protect” lynx habitat while Endang-ered Species
Act protection for lynx was pending; a series of arsons in Indiana
beginning after the endangered status of the Indiana bat interfered
with logging and development; and two May 21 arsons that did more
than $2 million worth of damage at the University of Washington in
Seattle and a tree nursery in Clatskanie, Oregon.
The May 21 arsons came two weeks before Representative George
Nethercut Jr. (R-Washing-ton) introduced the long expected first
draft of a bill to start a National Animal Terrorism and Ecoterrorism
Clearinghouse under the auspices of the FBI–and nine days before
another alleged ELF arson destroyed three logging trucks in Eagle
Creek, Oregon, just as the National Animal Interest Alliance asked
U.S. attorney general John Ashcroft to probe the alleged use of
“intimidation, harassment, and deception” by animal rights groups.
U.S. District Judge Bruce S. Jenkins ruled on October 11 in
Salt Lake City that the Utah “Dom-estic Terrorism of Commercial
Enterprises” statute violates the First Amendment by making a Class A
misdemeanor of the use of “any object, sound wave, light ray,
electronic signal or other means” to disrupt a business. The statute
imposes stiffer penalties for violations involving animal use
To have taken effect in May 2001, and mentioned by
wise-users as a model for a possible federal bill, the Utah statute
had been held in abeyance while Jenkins studied the case made against
it by the Utah Animal Rights Coalition and the American Civil
SHARK founder Steve Hindi told ANIMAL PEOPLE that he
suspected the “sound wave, light ray, electronic signal” language
might have been included to inhibit his intended use of the “Tiger”
video van to protest against a rodeo scheduled as part of the
Cultural Olymp-iad during the February 2002 Olym-pic Winter Games in
Salt Lake City.
“All we do is show videos of how rodeo cowboys electroshock
bulls, yank tails, slam calves to the ground, and beat up animals
behind the scenes,” Hindi said. “But TV is a combination of a sound
wave, a light ray, and an electronic signal, and if people decide
to boycott rodeos and rodeo sponsors, I guess that’s disrupting a
The Utah Animal Rights Coalition complained on October 10
that it has waited since April for permits to hold five sidewalk
protests near the Delta Center, the site of the Olympic rodeo.
Salt Lake City attorney Roger Cutler said that the Olympic
organizing committee wants to exclude sidewalk demos “for several
blocks around the Delta Center.”
The “Tiger” could not be excluded, Hindi believes, unless
all traffic is excluded, since it operates while moving with
traffic at a normal pace and is of an ordinary size for commercial
vehicles, using commercial video display technology.
In Britain, “A ban on fox hunting is likely to be delayed as
the Tony Blair government rushes through emergency legislation to
deal with the terrorist threat,” Rachel Sylvester of the Daily
Telegraph reported on October 12.
Her analysis was affirmed by Guardian chief political
correspondent Patrick Wintour. Whether the emergency legislation
would include anything pertaining to animal activism was unclear as
ANIMAL PEOPLE went to press.
The British National Crime Squad meanwhile arrested 29
“suspected animal rights activists” including six women and five men
on September 28, and eight women plus 10 men on October 4, for
allegedly bilking the government Department for Education and Skills
out of “tens of thousands of pounds,” the BBC reported.
“Detectives believe the money was used to gain information on
scientists, to support extremist animal rights activity, and also
to fund activists’ lifestyles,” the BBC continued. “The National
Crime Squad said some were believed to be ‘key players’ in the world
of animal rights extremism. A special police team led by the
National Crime Squad was set up earlier this year to target the
ringleaders of animal rights extremism,” the BBC said.
None of the arrestees were identified, and no mention of the
arrests appeared on major British animal rights information web
sites–but at press time none had been updated since September 17.
Oliver Parkinson of The Independent reported back on February
25 that, “An FBI spokesman confirmed that they were exchanging
intelligence on the Animal Liberation Front and Earth Liberation
Front with Special Branch detectives at Scotland Yard.”
Concluding the investigation of 15 animal-related parcel
bombings that injured three people last winter, Recorder of Chester
Judge Elgan Edwards on September 21 ordered that alleged
schizophrenic Glynn Harding, 27, be held indefinitely in a mental
hospital, and said that he would have been sentenced to life in
prison had he been mentally competent. One of Harding’s shrapnel
bombs cost realtor Janet Blyth, 46, her left eye; another badly
injured Leah Cain, 6, who is daughter of an exterminator.