Animal Rights Extremists' Attacks Get More Personal and Dangerous

By Matthew Harwood

Animal rights extremists are adopting more personal and dangerous terrorism tactics, two biomedical researchers argue on the opinion page of today's issue of The Washington Post.

P. Michael Conn, senior scientist at the Oregon Health and Science University's Oregon National Primate Center, and James V. Parker, a former public information officer at the Oregon National Primate Center, list some of the recent incidents committed by animal right activists that are making biomedical researchers think twice about staying in their profession.

Last month , the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) torched two cars with incendiary devices. The target of the attack was a University of California - Los Angeles (UCLA) biomedical researcher who uses animals in his work. ALF, however, chose the wrong targets and destroyed the cars of people in no way involved in animal testing.

Attacks have gotten even more dangerous and personal. 

In August, animal rights extremists firebombed a biomedical researcher's home in California. They attacked at five in the morning, while the researcher and his family slept. The researcher, his wife, and his two children had to crawl out the second story window to get out of the house before it was consumed.

Conn and Parker wonder how many biomedical researchers will switch careers or how many students will be dissuaded from pursuing a research career because they fear they will put themselves and their families in danger. After constant harassment and threats levied against his children, one biomedical researcher simply wrote "You win," to his harassers, "Please don't bother my family anymore." The scientist used animals in his experiments that aimed to help visually impaired children.

In the end, Conn and Parker come to a pretty uncontroversial conclusion.

Whether or not we agree on animal rights and animal research, we should be able to agree that fire-bombing homes and threatening families is not an acceptable way to try to bring about change in a civilized society.

Look out for the April issue of Security Management, where we tackle animal rights extremism and how the federal government and researchers are responding to an uptick of attacks on the biomedical research community.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post inaccurately reported the incendiary attack on two cars occurred on the campus of UCLA. The attack, however, occurred in an area of Los Angeles known as the Palms.


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