'Animal Liberation' Attacks on Researchers Continue

Eco-Radicals

Self-professed animal-liberation radicals continue to target scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles, the latest reminder of the escalating violence that characterizes the fringes of the movement.

On Jan. 8, a UCLA researcher who studies methamphetamine and nicotine addiction in primates reportedly received a card in the mail. Enclosed with the note were razor blades coated with blood and rat poison, according to an anonymous letter signed by the so-called Justice Department and sent anonymously to the North American Animal Liberation Press Office. (The secretive Justice Department group has claimed credit for sending researchers tainted razor blades in the past.) UCLA media representative Phil Hampton said that the university had no reports of any researcher receiving such a package. But the Justice Department communique claimed that it had indeed sent the letter, which it said warned, "[A]s long as you continue to terrorize and murder monkeys for a living, you and your entire family are in harms [sic] way. This is just the beginning."

Actually, it wasn't. An incendiary device was ignited on the same researcher's front porch almost a year earlier, in February 2008.

The card arrived less than two months after the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), another radical group, claimed responsibility for car bombs that destroyed two vehicles that the attackers mistakenly believed belonged to another UCLA researcher who uses animals to study morbid obesity and eating disorders.

That wasn't the first time in recent years ALF has gotten the wrong address. In 2006, self-professed ALFers placed a firebomb on the doorstep of a neighbor of their intended target, yet another UCLA professor. Officials said that had the device worked as intended, the neighbor and her elderly tenant would have been killed.

In January, local and federal law enforcement went on heightened alert because of possible retaliatory acts from animal liberationists and eco-radicals following the sentencing to 22 years in prison of a member of the Earth Liberation Front. Cincinnati resident Marie Mason had pleaded guilty last September to helping set off an explosion and fire that caused more than $1 million in damage to Michigan State University's Agricultural Hall on New Year's Eve 1999. The attack was aimed at research into genetically modified crops. Although Mason's lawyers portrayed her as remorseful, Assistant U.S. Attorney Hagen Frank declared in a pre-sentencing court filing that she remains "an unapologetic advocate of violence and intimidation."

A "Free Marie Mason" webpage paints a different picture of Mason as "a 46 year old mother of two … an avid community gardener, a musician, a writer, an Earth First! organizer and a volunteer for a free herbal healthcare collective." The site says Mason's case is "one of the latest developments in what many have dubbed the 'Green Scare,' a recent wave of government repression aimed at disrupting and discrediting grassroots environmental activism and criminalizing dissent."