REPORT TO CONGRESS ON THE EXTENT AND EFFECTS OF DOMESTIC AND INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM…

REPORT TO CONGRESS ON THE EXTENT AND EFFECTS OF DOMESTIC AND INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM ON ANIMAL ENTER


By: Patti Strand  Date: 02/25/1996 Category: | Animal Legislation | Animal Rights Extremism |

Report to Congress on the Extent and Effects of Domestic and International Terrorism on Animal Enterprises

This report was mandated by the 1992 Animal Enterprise Protection Act and prepared for Congress by the US Departments of Agriculture and Justice in response to increasing complaints of incidents of terrorism against people involved in animal-based industries. The National Animal Interest Alliance played an active role in passage of the Act and was pleased to be able to distribute this report to its first national conference in 1993.

In a war you have to take up arms and people will get killed, and I can support that kind of action by petrol bombing and bombs under cars, and probably at a later stage, the shooting of vivisectors on their doorsteps.

It's a war, and there's no other way you can stop vivisectors.

Tim Daley, British Animal Liberation Front Leader

Introduction

The Animal Enterprise Protection Act of 1992 and Mandated Report

The Animal Enterprise Protection Act, enacted into law on August 26, 1992 and codified as 18 U.S.C. § 43, makes it a federal offense, punishable by fine and/or imprisonment for up to one year, to cause physical disruption to the functioning of an animal enterprise resulting in economic damage exceeding $10,000. The Act also imposes sentences of up to 10 years or life imprisonment, respectively, on persons causing the serious bodily injury or death of another person during the course of such an offense.

Congress passed the Animal Enterprise Protection Act in response to concerns about what was perceived by many to be the rapidly expanding use of violence and other disruptive expressions of extremism on behalf of animal rights. Indeed, since the early 1980s, a broad range of enterprises, in both public and private sectors, that use or market animals or animal-derived products in their commercial or professional operations, have been targeted by radical elements within the animal rights movement with acts of disruption, vandalism, and in many cases physical destruction. In enacting the Animal Enterprise Protection Act, Congress sought both to punish those who engage in acts of terrorism against animal enterprises and to deter others from doing the same.

In view of these objectives, the Act directs the Attorney General and the Secretary of Agriculture to conduct jointly a study on the extent and effects of domestic and international terrorism on enterprises using animals for food or fiber production, agriculture, research, or testing, and report the results of the study to Congress within a year of the Act's passage. In compliance with this mandate, the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice (DOJ), with the assistance of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of the Department of Agriculture (USDA), conducted a study of animal rights extremism in the United States and abroad. The following report conveys the findings of this study.

Methodology Employed in Conducting Study

The goal of this study was to present information that describes as accurately as possible the extent and effects of animal rights terrorism, as well as how it has changed or evolved over the years. Consequently, this report employs a broad, inclusive view of animal rights terrorism, expanding upon but never neglecting the criteria that form the basis of the Animal Enterprise Protection Act. In this regard, it is important to note that:

  • The Enterprise Act defines the term "animal enterprise" as: 1) a commercial or academic enterprise that uses animals for food or fiber production, agriculture, research, or testing; 2) a zoo, aquarium, circus, rodeo, or lawful competitive animal event; or 3) any fair or similar event intended to advance agricultural arts and sciences. Using these categories as a starting point, this report considers as an animal enterprise any private or public enterprise, or individual working on account thereof, that produces, uses, or markets animals or animal-derived products. During the course of this study, 28 different types of enterprises or entities, most relating to those categories specified in the Act, were documented as having been victimized by animal rights extremists with acts of disruption or destruction.
  • While the Act characterizes terrorism as physical disruption caused to the functioning of an animal enterprise (including stealing, damaging, or causing the loss of property), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) defines terrorism as "the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives." [1: See "Terrorism in the United States: 1990," published by the FBI's Terrorist Research and Analytical Center, Counterterrorism Section, Criminal Investigative Division.] This report considers a wider range of activities than is covered by either the Act or FBI's definition of terrorism. It takes as its focus of analysis the more inclusive issue of animal rights "extremism," which includes actual or attempted actions of theft, vandalism, violence, disruption, or destruction. In all, this study identified 16 categories of animal rights extremist activities.
  • Although Congress did not enact the Animal Enterprise Protection Act until 1992, incidents attributable to animal rights extremism were first documented 15 years earlier. In order to accurately reflect the full extent of this activity, this report uses as its chronological frame of reference the period 1977 (when the first incident was recorded) through June 30, 1993.

The sources of the statistical, historical, and other information analyzed and presented in this study varied considerably. In order to present as reliable a profile of animal rights extremism as possible, representatives from entities that have been victimized by animal rights extremists, including government agencies, private industry, and organizations representing the interests of targeted industries or professions, were interviewed. Officials from law enforcement agencies also were interviewed. All, without exception, were forthcoming with their views and perspectives, as well as with statistical and anecdotal data.

The information derived from these sources provides the basis of the analyses and conclusions presented in this report. We believe that the enthusiastic response to our study is a clear indicator of how serious targeted enterprises and individuals alike consider the threat posed by animal rights extremism to their livelihood and well-being.

The Animal Rights Movement in Perspective: From Animal Welfare to Animal Rights

Organized concern for the plight of animals dates back to early 19th century England, just as great advances were being made in applied biomedical research. As the use of animals in research and industry became more commonplace, groups such as the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection, and the National Anti-Vivisection Society were formed to promote animal welfare. Equipped with these examples, similar groups began to appear in the United States toward the end of the century. Among these were the American Humane Association, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and the American Anti-Vivisection Society. Most of these original animal welfare societies, many of which still exist, did not seek to end animal research or other uses of animals, per se, but rather to work within established legal channels to ensure that laboratory and other animals were treated humanely. The tactics for achieving this goal were, and in most instances continue to be, nonviolent and lawful, confined to lobbying government and other public institutions, launching demonstrations and protests, and sponsoring public education campaigns.

The animal welfare movement's early efforts resulted in protective laws, first in the United Kingdom and later in the United States, that placed increasingly rigorous restrictions and standards on the treatment of animals used for commercial or scientific purposes. In 1873, the United States Congress enacted the first federal legislation pertaining to animal welfare in the form of the "28-hour law," which required that animals be properly rested, watered, and fed while in interstate transportation. In 1958, Congress passed the Humane Slaughter Act, which required meat packers selling to the U.S. Government to provide anesthetization or stunning prior to slaughter. These laws were followed by the Laboratory Animal Welfare Act in 1966, the Endangered Species Act in 1969, and the Animal Welfare Act in 1970, as well as a series of subsequent amendments strengthening these and other animal welfare-related statutes.

By the early 1970s, the animal welfare movements in the United Kingdom and the United States were being dramatically transformed by the emergence of an "animal rights" agenda. With the publication of such works as the anthology Animals, Men and Morals, Richard Ryder's Victims of Science, and, most influentially, Peter Singer's Animal Liberation: A New Ethic for Our Treatment of Animals, concern for protecting animal welfare became eclipsed by the philosophical imperative that animals, like humans, possess certain fundamental and inalienable rights, and therefore should be treated as equals. Often comparing the use of animals in research and industry to slavery and the Holocaust, many advocates of animal rights oppose all ways in which animals are confined and utilized by humans, whether it be for food, clothing, servitude, or household pets.

The cause of animal rights soon became a mainstream "single issue" movement, in some instances competing for or displacing the agenda of traditional animal welfare societies and in others fueling the proliferation of new organizations. In the United States, the most prominent among the new organizations was the non-profit People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), established in 1982 and which, in just over 10 years, has gained a membership of over 350,000. By some estimates, in the United States there currently are as many as 7,000 animal protection groups, of varying sizes, interests, and objectives.

The Emergence of Extremism Within the Animal Rights Movement

Like the traditional animal welfare movements, most modern animal rights advocacy organizations do not openly condone the use of violence or other unlawful means to further their agenda. With the advent and propagation of the animal rights philosophy, however, came a radical fringe element willing to employ more direct measures to fulfill the objectives of the movement. Calling themselves animal "liberationists" or "liberators," animal rights extremists radically shifted the tone of the dialogue between the animal rights movement and animal users. Frustrated with what they considered to be the insufficient pace of change as effected by legal, peaceful tactics, this emerging element diverged from the mainstream movement, went underground, and began to victimize animal enterprises with acts of violence, intimidation, theft, and property destruction.

As with most earlier developments relating to animal welfare, the origins of extremism as a means for promoting animal rights lay in the United Kingdom. The British organization believed to have initiated the trend toward "direct action" within the animal rights movement was the Hunt Saboteurs Association (HSA). Established in 1962 and still active today, the HSA introduced the "hunt sab" tactic, or the act of mounting sabotage raids aimed at disrupting fox hunts by harassing the hunters and distracting the hounds. In 1972, believing that HSA Tactics were insufficient, two of the group's members-Ronnie Lee and Cliff Goodman-founded the Band of Mercy (after a 19th Century anti-vivisection group of the same name) as an instrument for attacking hunters more directly. The Band of Mercy proceeded to do just that, by vandalizing hunters' vehicles and equipment. The group soon expanded its array of targets, however, to include animal research laboratories, food production facilities, and other enterprises using or marketing animals in any way. Under Lee's leadership, the Band of Mercy also escalated its level of violence and destruction, progressing from (but never abandoning) animal theft and vandalism to arson as its preferred means of destruction.

In 1975 Ronnie Lee was arrested in the United Kingdom for attempting to firebomb an animal research facility and was sentenced to three years of imprisonment. After being released on parole joined with a number of supporters to form the Animal Liberation Front (ALF). The Animal Liberation Front is a militant, underground group dedicated to the liberation of all animals from "exploitation" by humans. From the outset, ALF characterized its policy as "non-violent direct action." From the group's viewpoint, however, an act entailing the disruption or destruction of an animal enterprise normally is not described as "violent," as it is perpetrated against an inanimate object. In describing ALF's position toward animal enterprises, Lee defined the group's objectives as follows:

  • to save animals from suffering here and now. To inflict economic loss on people who exploit animals, resulting in less profit for them to plough back into their animal exploitation business; and
  • to escalate events to a point where all of these industries are under threat and can't operate.

These words quickly proved to be more than rhetoric. Immediately following its formation, ALF Began actively exercising this technique of "economic sabotage" in the United Kingdom, victimizing a wide array of enterprises using or marketing animals and inflicting damage reaching into the millions of pounds. It should be emphasized that, like the Band of Mercy before it, ALF escalated its level of violence throughout the 1980s. While reserving petty vandalism, such as graffiti and broken windows, for "low impact" targets, ALF became increasingly willing to employ more sophisticated methods of inflicting damage including, most notably, incendiary and electrical bombing. In pursuing this course, the group appears to have been intentionally following the tactical example established by the Irish Republican Army.

By the early 1980s, in the United States, incidents involving the theft or release of animals and vandalism were being Claimed by the Animal Liberation Front. Although the exact circumstances surrounding ALF's appearance in the United States remain a matter of speculation, it is apparent that the emergence of ALF activity in the U.S. coincided directly with the popularization of the modern animal rights movement and the formation of its advocacy organizations. It is not entirely clear whether ALF took root in the U.S. as a transplanted organization or simply as a cause adopted and emulated by frustrated activists. No evidence has been uncovered to suggest that ALF in the U.S. is, beyond its origins, connected either operationally or financially to ALF in the United Kingdom. [2: It has been observed, however, the some prominent activists within the animal rights movement in the United States are, or at one time were, British subjects. Some even suspect that ALF in the United Kingdom operates "training camps" for activists from the United States and other countries. This suspicion has never been substantiated.] Despite this apparent separation, however, it can be observed that ALF in the United States has followed organizational and operational patterns established in the United Kingdom, escalating quickly in both activity and technique, while maintaining the same central objective. In both countries, ALF continues to be the most active underground animal rights group.

According to a flyer published on behalf of the Animal Liberation Front in the United States, ALF's goals can be summarized as follows:

  • to liberate animals from places of abuse and place them in good homes where they can live out their natural lives free from suffering;
  • to inflict economic damage upon those who profit from the misery and exploitation of animals; and,
  • to reveal the horrors and atrocities committed against animals behind locked doors.

As this report will demonstrate, ALF and other militant animal rights groups in the United States have pursued these objectives in the tradition of their counterparts in the United Kingdom. The following sections examine in detail the characteristics and activities of these groups as they have come to manifest themselves in the United States since their initial appearance.

Profile of Animal Rights Extremism: Organizational and Operational Characteristics

In the United States as in the United Kingdom, ALF and other groups involved in animal rights extremism are clandestine in operation, amorphous in organization and membership, and, somewhat ironically, expertly skilled in public relations. These characteristics have allowed extremist animal rights groups to successfully evade detection and prosecution as well as garner some public sympathy, which in turn has emboldened them further to expand their list of victims and escalate their means of violence and destruction.

Whether ALF in the United States can be characterized as an organization, per se, or as an "umbrella' ideology or cause, is an issue still being debated. Regardless of how it may be characterized as a whole, it is widely believed that ALF is a loose configuration of small, autonomous "cells," with no centralized command structure. It is also believed that there are no formal membership requirements beyond the willingness to inflict damage upon an animal enterprise. Some contend that ALF founder Ronnie Lee deliberately fashioned this cellular structure after 19th century English anarchist groups in order to allow small groups of people to operate covertly with minimal risk of compromising the larger movement. By some accounts, this strategy to compartmentalize the group's activities has proven more successful in the United States, with its large territory and population, than in the much smaller United Kingdom. In each country, ALF, in whatever form it takes, is believed to be composed of one hundred or fewer "hard core" members; i.e., activists who actually are willing to perpetrate violence or destruction on behalf of their cause. More numerous are those activists or sympathizers who are willing to engage in less destructive activities. Some even suspect that, as a tactic of evading detection, ALF's hard core membership hires individuals-especially youths-otherwise not actively affiliated with the cause to perpetrate certain illicit acts. This suspicion, however, could not be substantiated.

The Animal Liberation Front's operational style is as distinctive as its manner of organization, leaving in its wake what practitioners have come to regard as the "ALF signature." Always striking under cover of night, ALF activists, concealing their identities with ski masks, victimize major targets with evident forethought and precision. It is widely believed within law enforcement, academic, and industry circles alike that ALF activists conduct careful surveillance of a selected target before victimizing it. Animal Liberation Front activists often accomplish this, it is further alleged, by infiltrating selected targets, either by gaining employment in the enterprise or by cultivating close contacts with employees having ready access to the facility. This tactic serves two purposes. First, it provides the activist opportunity to develop an intimate familiarity with the structure to be targeted. During raids, this knowledge is used to circumvent security systems and identify specific targets - such as animal quarters or laboratory equipment-for theft or destruction. Second, ALF activists are known to use this pre-raid access to document cases of alleged animal abuse for use in justifying an attack after it takes place. It also has been observed that extremist animal rights-related activity involving ALF or other groups often occurs on weekends, preferably long holiday weekends, when activity in and around the targeted enterprise is low and its surroundings quiet.

Obviously, the Animal Liberation Front's organizational and operational patterns do not lend themselves to an ability to access or manipulate public opinion, which is integral to its ability to garner sympathy for its cause and raise funds for its operations. To compensate for this inconsistency, ALF and other underground direct action groups in the U.S. and U.K. alike are suspected of maintaining connections with legitimate, above-ground animal rights advocacy groups. The U.K.'s Hunt Saboteurs Association is believed to have originated this pattern of working through spokespersons or organizations that serve to publicize, and in some cases purportedly fund, the activities of the underground group. In the United States, most notably, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals traditionally has publicized ALF activities soon after their occurrence. [3: Though never publicly condoning ALF's illegal activities, PETA representatives almost always voice support for the motive or principle underlying any given incident.] This often includes releasing videotape footage taken by ALF activists during the course of a raid on an enterprise. In addition, in both countries there are above-ground "ALF Support Groups" that boast large memberships of sympathizers willing to support ALF's cause through legal means, such as funding defense-related litigation and arranging for publicity. In the United States, the Animal Liberation Front Support Group claims a membership of 10,000. Although various members of these support groups have been questioned in connection with certain major incidents, none of the groups or their members have ever been charged with complicity in any illegal animal rights-related action.

It is important to note within this context that individuals or groups that operate under other names (see Appendix I) are believed to be associated by membership or leadership with the Animal Liberation Front. In fact, ALF activists are believed to use alternative group titles as another tactic of evading detection, often alternating names according to the severity of the activity. Dub the course of this study, no information arose to suggest that any of these groups operated fully independently of, or in competition or conflict with, the Animal Liberation Front. The most prominent and violent of these counterpart groups is the Animal Rights Militia, which has claimed responsibility for acts in the United Kingdom, the United States, and Canada. The newest name to arise in connection with extremist animal rights activity is the Animal Liberation Action Foundation, which was not observed as claiming responsibility for acts until 1993. In all, 23 different entities were documented as having claimed responsibility for violent or disruptive acts against animal enterprises in the United States since l977.

The operational relationship between extremist animal rights groups such as ALF and radical environmental groups has not been definitively determined. Both groups undoubtedly share a belief in direct action tactics, and are believed by many to maintain interlocking contacts among their leadership and membership networks. According to available information, however, in only two extremist incidents involving an animal enterprise has an environmental advocacy group claimed responsibility. [4: In January 1989, the Dixon Livestock Building in Dixon, California was set on fire, resulting in damage estimated at $250,000. The radical environmental advocacy group Earth First! claimed responsibility for this incident and for painting the slogan "Agribusiness Kills" on the California Cattleman's Association building in Sacramento.]

Extent of Animal Rights Extremism in the United States

Throughout the 1980s, fueled by a desire to achieve more tangible results and encouraged by confrontational publications such as A Declaration of War: Killing People to Save Animals and the Environment, [5: Published in 1991 under the pseudonym "Screaming Wolf," A Declaration of War is an inflammatory "call to arms" for animal liberationists. In extremely confrontational terms, the book encourages an escalation of violence and sabotage against animal enterprises, and, especially, individuals.] the frequency and severity of extremist animal rights-related activity in the United States expanded significantly. According to the data examined, between 1977 and June 30, 1993, the Animal Liberation Front and other extremist animal rights groups were documented as having perpetrated 313 individual acts, varying widely in nature and scope, against enterprises or individuals using or marketing animals or animal-derived products. Approximately 60% of the total incidents documented were claimed by ALF. The following is a numerical analysis of this activity. The analysis is based on data compiled by numerous law enforcement, government, professional/trade association, and private industry sources analyzed by the authors of this study. [6: It should be noted that this data, by the acknowledgement of the numerous entities that provided it, was derived and compiled primarily on the basis of news media reports, often with confirmation from law enforcement authorities or the targeted enterprise or industry. As of the completion of this study, there was no federal or otherwise central independent authority for regularly monitoring animal rights-related extremist activity in the United States.] It should be emphasized that the data presented here is based on an aggregation of reported or documented cases only, and does not necessarily represent the entire universe of extremist acts perpetrated on behalf of the animal rights cause. [7: In fact, it is generally believed that many animal rights-related incidents-especially those involving relatively minor acts of vandalism such as graffiti-go unreported, and therefore are numerically underestimated is this analysis.]

On the basis of this information, it was possible to identify a number of important factors and trends that characterize animal rights extremist activity in the United States since the first incident was documented in 1977. These patterns, illustrated in the following charts and analyzed in detail brow, are, if considered in combination, critical to an effective legislative and law enforcement response to animal enterprise terrorism.

Types of Enterprises Victimized

During the period 1977 - June 1993. a total of 28 different types of animal enterprises were victimized by animal rights extremists. University facilities-primarily research laboratories in which animals were maintained for testing-were victimized most frequently. Universities were followed, in order of frequency, by fur retailers, individuals, and the food production and retail industries. The chart on the following page and the table below illustrate the frequency (and percentage of total documented incidents) at which targeted enterprises and individuals have been victimized during the period.

Generally speaking, ALF and other animal rights extremists tend to target animal enterprises that are easy to infiltrate and access, are readily visible to news media, and can generate maximum public sympathy. They also tend to select enterprises whose employees tend to avoid publicity and who are least prepared to defend themselves or their use of animals before the public. As this study demonstrates, since the inception of animal rights extremism in the United Kingdom and the United States, the biomedical research community has most closely fit these criteria. Assuming that the biomedical research community encompasses Universities, federal and private research facilities, and individual researchers, this category represents 135, or 43% of the 313 documented incidents. Taken together, the biomedical research community, the food industry (food production and retail), and the fur retail industry (department stores included), [8: As it was not possible to determine conclusively from documented cases whether department stores were targeted for their fur or leather sales, or both, these stores were factored out of the fur retail category. As most anecdotal data suggests that the vast majority of victimized department stores were targeted for their fur sales, however, these incidents can be added back to the fur retail category for a view of the wider impact of animal rights activity on the fur industry. When this is done, 60, or 19% of all documented incidents involved the fur industry. Because this figure is based on the number of documented incidents only, it may be an underestimation. According to a recent industry-sponsored survey of fur retailers, for example, 43% of the 1,500 fur retailers in the United States reported that they had been victimized by animal rights activism in some way just within the past year. Because individual fur retailers, like other animal enterprises, often prefer to avoid the potential consequences of publicity, many incidents go unreported and therefore would not be reflected in this analysis.] represent almost 82% of all animal enterprises victimized. Just as they have in the United Kingdom, in the U.S. these three industries have been targeted systematically and persistently by animal rights extremists.

Perhaps the most disturbing pattern to emerge during the period in question was that individuals and their personal property were targeted with increasing frequency. In recent years especially, animal rights extremists appear to have become more willing to repeatedly and systematically victimize individuals and their personal property with varying degrees of harassment, intimidation, and property defacement or destruction. Since 1977, 43, or almost 14% of all documented incidents involved the victimization of individuals or their personal property. The victimized individuals were, primarily, research scientists working in the field of biomedical research using animals. According to practitioners, and substantiated by ALF leaflets and other militant animal rights publications, two interrelated factors could account for this trend. First, beginning in the United Kingdom and, predictably, taking root in the U.S., animal rights extremists deliberately have sought to personalize their attacks, victimizing living perpetrators of "animal abuse" in addition to sabotaging the facilities in which they work. Second, and more practically, most industries that have been targeted [Chart "Type of Enterprise Victimized" omitted] systematically throughout the years have responded to this onslaught with heightened security, leaving the individual researchers themselves highly visible and vulnerable representatives of the biomedical research community. [9: A recent example of this factor involved the vandalism of research scientists' personal property in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C. On April 27, 1993, the homes, and in some cases automobiles, of five scientists employed with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) were vandalized with graffiti. A group calling itself the "Animal Avengers" claimed credit for the acts. In response to numerous demonstrations, burglaries, and other animal rights-related incidents occurring throughout the 1980s, the NIH has and continues to enhance its security posture. It is believed that, deterred by the increased risk of detection at the NIH facilities, the perpetrator of these crimes sought to fulfill their objectives by targeting the individual researcher where they were most vulnerable.] It is important to note that acts against individuals or their property are likely underestimated in the data analyzed for this study. It is assumed that, for fear of retaliation or other emotional factors, not all of the individuals who are victimized by animal rights extremists choose to publicize or report incidents to law enforcement authorities.

The following table provides a detailed breakdown of the types of enterprises victimized by animal rights extremists and number of times each was victimized during the 1977 - June 1993 period.

Type of Enterprise Victimized and Number of Incidents Documented

(In Order of Frequency)

Enterprise Type

Number of

Incidents

Percent of

Total Incidents

University Facilities (medical and research)

63

(20%)

Fur Retailers

48

(16%)

Individuals/Private Residences

43

(14%)

Agricultural/Food Production Facilities*

28

(09%)

Markets/Delis/Butcher Shops

33

(11%)

Private Research Facilities/Labs/Medical Centers

21

(07%)

Department Stores

12

(04%)

Federal Research or Medical Facilities

08

(03%)

Breeding Ranches**

07

-

Professional Associations

06

-

Restaurants

06

-

Animal Shelters/Animal Welfare Societies

05

-

Cosmetic Companies

04

-

Fur-Animal Farms/Breeders

03

-

Local Government Facilities

03

-

Rodeos

02

-

Feed Cooperatives

02

-

Stables/Liveries

02

-

Parks/Youth Centers

02

-

High School Laboratories

02

-

Zoos/Wild Animal Parks

02

-

Hunt Clubs

02

-

Guns and Ammunition/Hunting Stores

02

-

Taxidermists

02

-

Circuses

01

-

Leather Retail Stores

01

-

Wildlife Societies

01

-

Stadiums

01

-

Pet Breeders

01

-

Total

313

-

*Most commonly meat packing/processing companies, but also including slaughterhouses, and, much less frequently, livestock and poultry farms.

** Including ranches raising animals for the purpose of research.

Thus far, unlike in the United Kingdom, pharmaceutical companies in the U.S. that use animals for drug testing have not been regularly victimized by animal rights extremists. During the period examined, no pharmaceutical companies using animals for testing medicinal products were documented as having been victimized by animal rights extremists. Only four cosmetic companies were victimized. In view of the increasingly militant rhetoric as well as numerous threats leveled against the pharmaceutical industry, however, law enforcement officials and representatives of the biomedical research community agree that it soon could become a target for extremist actions.

Types of Activity

By far the most prominent animal rights-related activities in the U.S. that fall within this report's definition of "extremism" are those that were introduced and perfected during the modern animal rights movement's early development in the United Kingdom as "staples" of extremist activism. As the graph on the following page illustrates, the most common of these activities is vandalism involving minor property damage. This activity includes the painting of graffiti (usually ALF slogans or threats [10: Slogans commonly painted on walls and windows include: "ALF," "Meat is Murder," "Animal Auschwitz," and "Meat is Death and You are Next.'] ) broken windows, defacement, glued locks, and other acts causing minor property damage and/or minimal disruption of commercial or professional operations. Minor vandalism is the most easily perpetrated and least costly form of "economic sabotage," involving some activities that do not have to be reserved for the most violent, "hard core" adherents to the animal rights cause. Of the 313 documented incidents examined in this study, minor vandalism was documented as having occurred 160 times, or in about half the cases. These data demonstrate that a majority of the documented incidents would likely not constitute a violation of the Animal Enterprise Protection Act or any other federal law, and therefore would not normally be reported to federal law enforcement authorities. [Graph "Type of Activitiy" omitted]

Although minor vandalism is not itself a new tactic, the targets at which it is directed have become more personalized. All of the extremist acts that have been directed against individual researchers have involved either threats against their person or family members or vandalism to their personal property, or both. Of all the cases examined, 29 involved personal threats ranging in severity from intimidation and harassment to letters promising death or bodily injury. In many cases, researchers' homes or automobiles were vandalized, most commonly with graffiti. However, no cases involving acts against individuals or their property entailing destruction greater than minor vandalism have ever been attributed definitively to animal rights extremism.

The second most common type of activity, occurring 77 times, was the theft or release of animals. Animal "liberation" is a traditional tactic that reaches to the heart of the animal rights movement and provides the ultimate philosophical justification for militant activity. Indeed, most raids on research laboratories and other animal enterprises in which live animals are maintained are conducted for the sole purpose of freeing the animals from captivity. In some cases, raids conducted by the Animal Liberation Front are known to have resulted in the release of hundreds of animals. Many practitioners in the biomedical research community maintain that this activity can be as threatening to the freed animals as it is to the enterprise itself. By ALF activists' own admission, for instance, animals of undomesticated origin that are bred and raised in captivity are most often released into the wild, where they may not possess the skills to survive. [11: Ironically, in some cases the animals the activists intended to release during the given raid never left their cages. In other cases, animals were known to have returned to the victimized facility following the incident.] During the course of most of these raids, the painting of graffiti and other acts of minor or major vandalism, most often entailing the destruction of equipment, are perpetrated at the scene.

The high incidence of minor vandalism suggests that most extremist animal rights-related acts continue to be small scale and fairly haphazard. The data nevertheless indicate that ALF and associated groups are capable of more sophisticated actions requiring a higher level of planning and coordination. Of these more serious but less frequent activities, vandalism involving major property damage, most often by arson, is the most noteworthy. Major vandalism includes, primarily, the destruction of property by arson or other means resulting in major structural damage and/or property loss as well as significant disruption of commercial operations. This activity, occurring in 26 of the 313 documented incidents, is the most destructive and costly form of "economic sabotage," and in some cases has been categorized by the Federal Bureau of Investigation as "domestic terrorism." [12: To date, the most serious and costly act attributable to animal rights extremism was the April 1987 destruction by fire of a veterinary diagnostic laboratory under construction at the University of California - Davis. This attack, claimed by the Animal Liberation Front, was the first animal rights-related incident to be categorized as an act of domestic terrorism by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. As a direct result of this case, in late 1987 the FBI launched an investigation of ALF as a domestic terrorist organization. The FBI continued this investigation through September 1990. Only two other incidents hew been officially characterized as domestic terrorist acts: 1) the April 1989 arson at the University of Arizona in Tucson; and 2) the July 1989 theft of animals and destruction of equipment at Texas Tech University in Lubbock.] Acts of major vandalism have ranged from the destruction of sophisticated laboratory equipment to the destruction of the victimized facility as a whole. As the figures below indicate, in the tradition of ALF activity in the United Kingdom, arson is the preferred means of major destruction for ALF'S "hard core" activists in the U.S. [13: In both the United Stow and the United Kingdom, the Animal Liberation Front has claimed in many cases involving arson that its intent was not to engulf the targeted facility in flames, but rather to activate the sprinkler system so as to damage the contents of the facility with water.] In the United States, arson is most commonly accomplished with unsophisticated non-electrical incendiary devices. Just since the passage of the Animal Enterprise Protection Act in August 1992, there have been two incidents of major vandalism, both involving arson. [14: These incidents were 1) the October 1992 break-in and arson at the USDA predator ecology project at Utah State University; and 2) the November 1992 firebombing of five Swanson Meat trucks in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Direct damages in each case was estimated at over $100,000.]

Given the multiplicity of the types of activities animal extremists engage in, it should be emphasized that these actions are not necessarily mutually exclusive, often being perpetrated in various combinations. For example, ALF and other groups paint graffiti at the incident scene in a vast majority of cases, although most commonly in combination with other acts such as vandalism or the theft of animals. In the data presented below, cases involving overlapping activities during any one incident are sorted according to the most serious activity perpetrated during that event. Even though arson and firebombing were the principal means by which acts of major vandalism were perpetrated, they have been factored out of the major vandalism category to depict the incidence of each tactic during the 1977 -June 30, 1993 period.

The following table provides a detailed breakdown of the types of extremist activities perpetrated by animal rights extremists and the number of times each activity was documented during the 1977 - June 1993 period. As these activities often overlap in any given incident, total of the activities would far exceed the incident total and therefore is not stated. It should be noted that, due to their only marginal relevance to the mandate of the Act as well as their high incidence, demonstrations, sit-ins, and other protests are not presented here. According to the data analyzed, during the 1977 - 1993 period over 200 animal rights-related demonstrations were recorded as occurring, some resulting in arrests of individuals for trespassing.

Type of Activity Perpetrated and Number of Times Documented

(In Order of Frequency)

Activity

Number of
Incidents

Percentage of Total Incidents

Vandalism: Minor Property Damage

160

(51%)

Theft/Release of Animals

77

(25%)

Threats Against an Individual

29

(09%)

Vandalism: Major Property Damage

26

(08%)

Arson

21

(07%)

Bomb Threat

16

(05%)

Firebombing

14

(04%)

Hoax Bomb

09

(03%)

Other Theft

05

-

Billboards destroyed/defaced

04

-

Bombing Attempt

03

-

Non-Threatening Letters/Telephone Calls*

02

-

Personal Attack/Assault

02

-

Arson Attempt

01

-

Assassination Attempt

01

-

*Pertains to animal rights groups making friendly contact with a perceived conduit or sympathizer in a targeted enterprise.

Despite the severely destructive nature of some of these activities, none of the extremist animal rights-related activities analyzed for this report is known to have resulted in the injury or death of another individual. [15: In February 1990 Dr. Hyram Kitchen, Dean of the Veterinary School of the University of Tennessee, was shot and killed on his private farm. One month before the incident, a local police department issued an alert through the FBI's National Crime Information Center that various sources, including mail received by the University of Tennessee, indicated that animal rights extremists had threatened to assassinate a veterinary dean within the following 12 months. No one was ever arrested for the act and there was no claim of responsibility. Some suspect that ALF or another extremist animal rights, group or individual was responsible. It must be emphasized, however, that this suspicion has never been substantiated.] In addition, it is important to note that, unlike in Canada and the United Kingdom, there have been no major incidents involving product tampering or contamination hoaxes claimed by or attributed to animal rights extremists. And, finally, there is no evidence to indicate that firearms were used during the course of any of the documented incidents in the United States.

Geographical Patterns of Activity

It is generally believed that extremist animal rights-related activity in the United States originated on the east coast. The first on record, for instance, occurred in New York. [16: This case involved the theft of four laboratory animals from a New York University research facility.] Soon afterward, activities in Maryland, the District of Columbia, and Florida were documented. During the course of the 1980s, however, the locus of ALF activity shifted to the west coast as the incidence of activities dramatically increased. Since the mid-1980s, California has been unequalled in the number of incidents claimed by ALF and other groups. Altogether, approximately 54% of all documented incidents occurred in the western United States (excluding Hawaii). The corresponding figure for the east coast region of the U.S. is 34%. Extremist animal rights-related activity was documented in 28 states and the District of Columbia during the 1977 - June 30, 1993 period. The overall geographical patterns are depicted by the chart on page 18 and in the table below.




About The Author

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Patti Strand - NAIA National Director

Patti is a recognized expert and consultant on contemporary animal issues, most notably responsible dog ownership and the animal rights movement. She often appears on radio and television and her articles on canine issues, animal welfare, public policy and animal rights have appeared in major US news publications and in trade, professional and scientific journals. Patti and her…


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