Arsons boost bill that would inhibit access to info about animal research

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 2008:
SACRAMENTO–Firebombs detonated on a porch and in a home
belonging to University of California at Santa Cruz researchers in
the early morning of August 2, 2008 are believed to have given a big
late-in-session boost to AB 2296, a bill which would allow
universities to withhold the names of animal researchers from public
documents.
Introduced in February 2008 by state assembly member Gene
Mullin (D-San Mateo) at request of the University of California
system, AB 2296 “would make it a misdemeanor to harm or intimidate a
researcher who works with animals, including publicly posting the
names, photographs, home addresses and home telephone numbers of
researchers online or elsewhere. Anyone convicted under the
legislation could face up to a year in county jail and fines up to
$25,000. The bill also allows researchers or their employers to seek
an injunction against animal rights advocates or web sites publishing
their photos or personal information,” summarized Santa Cruz
Sentinel staff writer J.M. Brown.


“The bill is a response to a spate of attacks on University
of California animal researchers in the past year,” wrote San
Francisco Chronicle Sacramento bureau reporter Matthew Yi,
recalling that “In February 2008, six masked people tried to force
their way into the home of a U.C. Santa Cruz researcher who studies
human disease. The suspects tried to break in by pounding on the
front door, and when the researcher’s husband confronted them, the
suspects hit him on the head, authorities said. In January, a
Molotov cocktail exploded on the front porch of UCLA researcher
Edythe London’s home. Last fall, the same home was flooded,”
reportedly doing $20,000 worth of damage, “when someone broke a
window and inserted a garden hose with the water on full blast. In a
separate incident, the wife of another UCLA researcher was sent a
package of razor blades and fur, accompanied by a threatening note.”
AB 2296 is in some respects a state version of the federal
Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, in effect since November 2006,
which extended to animal industry workers the provisions of the 1982
Animal Enterprise Protection Act. The latter covered only property.
AB 2296 also incorporates elements of local ordinances
adopted in many cities where home demonstrations, vandalism
attributed to activists, and even home invasions have occurred.
They seek to keep protesters away from the residences of protest
targets.
In July 2008, for example, the city council of Holladay,
Utah followed Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County in enacting an
ordinance to keep demonstrators 100 feet away from homes. The
Holladay council “reacted to recent protests by the Utah Primate
Freedom Project in front of the homes of University of Utah
researchers,” wrote Elizabeth Miller of the Salt Lake Tribune.
Some of the protests, led by the son of SHARK regional
director Colleen Hatfield, borrowed the SHARK television truck.
Los Angeles has long had a similar ordinance against home
demonstrations, used in 2004 to convict former child actress Pamelyn
Ferdin and surgeon Jerry Vlasak, her husband, of illegally
demonstrating outside the home of a Los Angeles City Animal Services
employee. Ferdin has acted as spokesperson for Stop Huntington
Animal Cruelty, whose most prominent U.S. members were convicted in
2006 of allegedly instigating property damage and threats directed at
persons associated with Huntingdon Life Sciences, and drew prison
terms ranging from three to six years. Vlasak has often acted as a
spokesperson for the ALF.
Relying on the Los Angeles ordinance, Los Angeles Superior
Court Judge Gerald Rosenberg in February 2008 granted a temporary
restraining order on behalf of UCLA faculty against individual
activists Linda Faith Greene, Hillary Roney, Kevin Olliff, Ramin
Saber and Tim Rusmisel, as well as against unnamed members of the
Animal Liberation Front, the Animal Liberation Brigade, and the
UCLA Primate Freedom Project.
Of the named “organizations,” only the Primate Freedom
Project actually has a verifiable institutional identity–and the
original Primate Freedom Project, founded by former high school
teacher Rick Bogle, has avoided associations with criminal activity.
Bogle, 55, has focused since 2004 on trying to start a
National Primate Research Center Exhibition Hall in a former bicycle
warehouse located between the Wisconsin National Primate Research
Center and the Harlow Primate Psychology Laboratory, abutting the
University of Wisconsin at Madison.
Retired California medical doctor Richard McLellan posted
$675,000 to buy the property from owner Roger Charly, but Charly
backed out of the deal after the university offered him $1 million.
Bogle and McLellan sued, winning a November 2006 lower court
judgement that was overturned by the Wisconsin 4th District Court of
Appeals on July 17, 2008.
While animal researchers claim a need for secrecy to protect
themselves from escalating clandestine violence, and University of
Wisconsin spokespersons voiced concern that the National Primate
Research Center Exhibition Hall would become a hub of violent
protest, “direct action” advocates argue that efforts to conceal
details of animal research and researchers and to thwart projects
such as Bogle’s demonstrate that law-abiding tactics are unsuccessful.
California AB 2296 “is a wrongheaded and unconstitutional
attempt to infringe on the rights of the many animal welfare groups
working legally and legitimately to stop the abuse of animals in
research,” testified In Defense of Animals founder Elliot Katz at an
April 2008 legislative hearing. “It is wrong to restrict and
penalize the public for the acts of a few, particularly when there
are already criminal laws and other legal remedies available to
prohibit acts that are clearly illegal, such as violence, threats
and intimidation.”
Katz emphasized that AB 2296 would restrict access to
information about animal research at both public institutions and
private companies receiving public funding.
“In 2004, California voters passed a $3 billion initiative
for stem cell research,” Katz cited as an example. Taxpayers have a
right to know who receives the funds and how they are spent.”
Katz reviewed the use of public records by IDA in pursuing
enforcement of the federal Animal Welfare Act, sometimes resulting
in the closure of repeated offenders–like the Coulston Foundation,
once the world’s largest dealer in chimpanzees for research use. In
September 2003 the last 266 Coulston chimps were acquired by the
Center for Captive Chimpanzee Care, founded by sanctuarian Carol
Noon.
“In 2007,” recalled Katz, “the U.S. District Court for the
District of Columbia upheld IDA’s right to information about
federally-funded animal research, finding that IDA’s “dissemination
methods and history demonstrate that the disclosure will contribute
to a greater understanding on the part of the public at large.”
As to the actions producing and helping to advance AB 2296,
Action for Animals founder and veteran California animal rights
lobbyist Eric Mills e-mailed to ANIMAL PEOPLE, “I call it
terrorism. Such actions put people in danger, and do nothing to
help animals, or further our cause; indeed, they are
counter-productive, and will serve only to make things more
difficult for the law-abiding. I think we, as a humane
movement–both organizations and individuals– need to speak up loud
and clear in condemning these tactics. We all deserve better,
humans and nonhumans alike. Which is not to condone animal
research–I hate it. Even if it were to save the entire human race,
which of course it won’t and can’t, I am opposed to invasive
research on animals for ethical and moral reasons.”
Marin Independent Journal reporter Jennifer Upshaw noted on
August 5, 2008 that “A manhunt continues in Costa Rica for Marin
County animal rights fugitive Daniel Andreas San Diego,” 30, who
“has been at large since becoming a suspect in 2003″ in connection
with pipe bombing at the Chiron Corporation in Emeryville and the
Shaklee Corporation in Pleasanton. No one was hurt,” in the 2003
bombings. Both bombing targets were involved in animal testing.
Except for the timing of the release of information about the case,
there was nothing to indicate that San Diego was involved in the
Santa Cruz incidents three days earlier.
The Santa Cruz firebombings, like several others in the past
several years, imminently preceded the sentencing of a prominent
direct action advocate. Tre Arrow, 34, who changed his name from
Michael Scarpitti, on August 12, 2008 drew 78 months in federal
prison and a restitution order for a series of arsons committed in
the name of the Earth Liberation Front, in assocation with 10 other
persons, some of whom also committed arsons and vandalism in the
name of the Animal Liberation Front. The others were sentenced
earlier. Indicted in 2002, Tre Arrow was arrested in Canada in 2004.
On August 11, 2008 the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
upheld a three-year-plus prison sentence given to convicted Earth
Liberation Front and Animal Liberation Front conspirator Kendall
Tankersley, finding the sentence “reasonable” even though Tankersley
was not convicted of domestic terrorism, as were several of her
co-defendants. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals also dismissed
appeals from co-defendants Kevin Tubbs, serving a 12-year sentence,
and Jonathan Paul, serving four years-plus.

Print Friendly

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *