In the early hours of November 14, the University of Iowa was attacked by Animal Rights extremists. Claiming to have acted as agents of the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), vandals destroyed computers, records and equipment of UI biomedical researchers, and to have removed several hundred animals, mostly rats and mice:
Iowa City, Ia. - A radical animal-rights group on Thursday claimed responsibility for vandalism in a University of Iowa animal research lab the group called "UI's chamber of hell."
The message, sent early Thursday from the Animal Liberation Front, a United Kingdom-based organization, takes credit for removing more than 400 animals from the Spence Laboratories, pouring acid on research documents, and destroying computers. Most of the animals taken were laboratory rats and mice.
Damage was also done to Seashore Hall.
"This raid was carried out to halt the barbaric research of the UI Psychology Department's 7 primary animal researchers," the group states in the e-mail message sent to Iowa media outlets. The message, which accuses researchers of inhumane treatment of animals and lists researchers' addresses, home phone numbers and spouses' names, hit raw nerves at the university.
"People are pretty freaked out," said Lee Anna Clark, associate provost.
U of I President David Skorton said in a message to faculty, students and staff that the activists' message was an attempt to intimidate faculty and researchers. "We will not be bullied," Skorton said.
The vandalism occurred late Saturday or early Sunday and was concentrated in animal research labs used primarily by the psychology department. University officials estimate the vandals caused tens of thousands of dollars in damage. . . .
"Terrorism is not going to stop us from getting back to work," said Mark Blumberg, a psychology professor and researcher who was named in the ALF e-mail.
University officials said ALF's claims, which include accusations that faculty smuggle narcotics from research for their own personal use, are false and misrepresent animal research. . . .
The activists claimed in their message that they bypassed the U of I's key-card access and other security systems to enter the locked Spence laboratories. The group states they found rats subjected to stress and thirst experiments as well as some with "oozing wounds" and "grotesque head implants."
The activists' message said animals were "placed in comfortable, loving homes."
Tom Colvin, executive director of the Animal Rescue League of Iowa, said he would like to know how the activists found homes for hundreds of rodents. "We've got an awful lot of animals other than dogs and cats we can't find homes for," he said.
The FBI continues to investigate the vandalism, which caused significant setbacks for psychology researchers. . . .
Federal prosecutors say animal-rights activists - when caught - are tough to prosecute.
"These kind of cases are fairly rare because investigating them is hard," said Matthew Whitaker, U.S. attorney for Iowa's southern district. Activists "are very stealthy about what they do."
ALF, a loosely knit organization that serves as an umbrella for many radical groups, has taken credit for releasing animals - mostly minks - from Iowa farms several times in the past 10 years.
This was a well thought-out attack, and the very care with which it was conducted serves as its own ice-cold warning: you who we target are not safe.
And to drive the point home, if ever that was needed, the ALF published the names, addresses, telephone numbers and email addresses of faculty and staff, and their spouses.
This was a classic AR terror attack, made complete with the usual incendiary (if stereotypical) rhetoric intended to justify the morality of their action, to recruit new acolytes to the cause, to demonize those targeted, and to leave those folks fearing for their safety and the safety of their loved ones.
And what, I ask you, would any Animal Rights condemnation of animal research be without Standard AR Myth #26: that the use of animals is bad research because you cannot extrapolate data obtained from them to humans ... ?
Here's a portion of the ALF's call-to-arms, with specific names snipped:
"The Animal Liberation Front is claiming responsibility for the liberation of 401 animals from the University of Iowa in the early hours of November 14th, 2004. All animals on the third floor of the UI psychology department -- 88 mice and 313 rats -- were removed, examined and treated by a sympathetic veterinarian, and placed in loving homes.
This raid was carried out to halt the barbaric research of the UI Psychology Department's 7 primary animal researchers: . . ..
This was not thoughtless vandalism but a methodical effort to cripple the UI psychology department's animal research. Only equipment in rooms where animals were confined and tortured were targeted. Only computers belonging to or used in the work of vivisectors were destroyed. Only documents of animal researchers waere doused in acid. The acid a deliberately chosen paper dissolving agent. Our goal is total abolition of all animal exploitation. Achieved in the short term by delivering the 401 animals from UI's chamber of hell. And in the extended term by shutting down the labs through the erasing of research and equipment used in the barbaric practice of vivisection. The entire raid was a careful and deliberate 5-pronged assault on UI's animal research.
Behind the laboratory doors we found drug addicted rats, rats subjected to stress experiments involving loud noise, rats undergoing thirst experiments, unanesthetized rats with protruding surgical staples and oozing wounds, and mice and rats affixed with grotesque head implants. Inside the labs of UI's Psych Department, we found a bloody torture chamber showcasing the cruelest whims of our earth's sickest minds. . . . Tonight 401 animals are spared their reach.
Our deepest sadness is reserved for the animals on the 4th Floor kept from our arms, those we were unable to save, including hundreds of mice and rats, pigeons, guinea pigs, and 8 primates.
No animals were released into the wild. All 401 were placed in comfortable, loving homes.
We acted as operatives not only of compassion, but good science. Animal research is not only cruel but hazardous -- as data derived from the animal models is not applicable to humans and therefore dangerous.
Our bypassing of UI's sophisticated, key card-access, 4-walled security system (perimeter, elevator, corridor, animal room) should be interpreted as a two-fold message:
1) Our utter seriousness in achieving animal liberation. 2) If you torture animals and we not be stopped from liberating them.
On the ears of these monsters who know only profit and blood, who hide behind unjust laws, our breath has been wasted. Justice for the victims of vivisection will be achieved not by the blows of boycott nor protest -- but of
our sledgehammers to laboratory doors.
Let this message be clear to all who victimize the innocent: We're watching. And by axe, drill, or crowbar -- we're coming through your door.
Stop or be stopped.
Communique Addendum 1.0 The continuation of vivisection is maintained only insofar as it remains outside public sight and scrutiny. The ongoing research uncovered at UI's Psych Dept. is of such a sadistic nature as to be inexcusable by all but the sickest minds. UI code requires all animals be kept behind locked doors of windowless rooms, and most often on floors locked to the public. UI has also tagged this raid as mere vandalism and denied an animal liberation motive despite numerous slogans left painted at the site, all to divert attention from it's animal research. We confiscated paperwork from UI's 7 primary researchers to give the public a glimpse into the sickness kept from their eyes: . . .
And then, there's this pricelessly disingenuous gem:
Addendum 2.0 Because of the established link between violence towards animals and that towards humans, we offer as a public safety measure the home addresses of UI Psych Dept. vivisectors: . . .
Where does one start with all this? Well, you bear in mind that you're dealing with True Believers. These are people of faith. They are moral absolutists, self-styled Holy Warriors who believe totally in their cause. You cannot reason with such people, not because they are intrinsically irrational or do not believe in facts, but because they are blinded by their ideology. They see what they want to see, not what actually is. Such people truly are "Intellectual Morons and Useful Idiots".
Finally, and in passing, you might wish to pause for a moment and reflect upon the fact that PeTA has strongly and consistently supported extremist, violent groups and individuals, including Rodney Coronado, the erstwhile ALF operative who served time for having torched a Michigan State University research lab.
I'm deeply grateful to reader SC for pointing me to the ALF statement.