Yesterday, I posted ("Dots") on a raid conducted by law enforcement in New Jersey. Now, details are emerging on the raid and about related events, and AR activists Janice Angelillo and Nick Cooney are identified as those busted. Both are Animal Rights activists who have had scrapes with the law before — Brian Carnell's site has a little history on Angelillo here. Mr. Cooney is no stranger to the law either. (Readers of AC might remember Mr. Cooney from my post on his recent OpEd in the Philadelphia Inquirer.)
In any event, here's today's story:
Borough resident and animal activist Janice Angelillo remains at the Essex County Jail on $15,000 bail after she and a companion were arrested about 4 a.m. Thursday for giving a police officer fake identities after they were stopped on foot outside the Hoffman-LaRoche facility in Nutley, police said.
Angelillo's Highland Park home was raided Saturday night by more than a dozen state and local police, some armed with assault rifles and clad in bulletproof vests and helmets.
Just before the Thursday arrest, police had been alerted to an incident in nearby Bloomfield in which derogatory slogans toward Hoffman-LaRoche were spray-painted on a white fence in the same color paint found on the hands and clothing of Angelillo and Philadelphia resident Nicholas Cooney, said Capt. Steve Serrao, assistant director for operations of the state Office of Counter Terrorism.
Interesting. A decade or so ago, derogatory graffiti spray painted on a fence wouldn't have raised an eyebrow, let alone prompted a raid by heavily armed cops, even if the suspects were known to be hard-core Animal Rights activists. Things have changed, partly due to external events (9/11), domestic events (there has been an increase in AR/Eco violence in the last decade), and partly because of incendiary rhetoric and the maturing of the internet as a way to communicate it.
Law enforcement agencies are connecting the dots, as well they should be.
After the pair were arrested, police obtained a search warrant to examine their black Subaru that was parked near Hoffman-LaRoche.
Serrao said Angelillo and Cooney are also being investigated in connection with another criminal mischief incident in Long Beach Township that occurred within 24 hours of the two being apprehended in Nutley early Thursday morning.
"We recovered evidence from the (Subaru) and the residence that directly links Cooney and Angelillo to that (Long Beach Township) incident," he said.
State Police also filed three charges against the two in the North Jersey incidents: criminal mischief, criminal trespassing, and conspiracy to commit criminal mischief, said Serrao, also counter-terrorism bureau chief for the State Police.
Angelillo and Cooney are affiliated with the animal-activist group Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty. Huntingdon Life Sciences, a British company, has a facility in Franklin Township, where SHAC has held protests on numerous occasions because the company conducts laboratory testing on animals, Serrao said. [My emphasis . . . Ed]
But of course.
Early Saturday morning after the arrests, police began surveilling Angelillo's Parker Road home, where she lives with her husband, Ted Nebus. That night at 7:15, police descended on the home after observing what they considered suspicious behavior.
"What happened at 7:15 was that members of the New Jersey State Police observed (five) white males carrying boxes out of the residence that we were surveilling in anticipation of obtaining and executing a search warrant," Serrao said.
The men were loading the boxes into a vehicle, according to Serrao.
"When we observed that activity, we communicated that information to the Prosecutor's Office that was preparing a warrant for us and they authorized us to detain those suspects and secure those boxes because they may in fact be the evidence we were seeking," said Serrao.
Nebus was one of the five men detained, but he was not charged with any criminal activity, Serrao said.
Approximately 15 officers were on the scene. Between eight and 10 were wearing full tactical SWAT gear, some detectives were in plain clothes, and other officers were in uniform, he said.
Tom Howard, one of the men detained at the scene, said Sunday that he was part of a group heading out to a barbecue and was carrying a grill and other items for the outing.
Serrao confirmed that some of the boxed items examined may have been for a barbecue but other evidence in the vehicle was considered to be possibly linked to related criminal activity. He declined to identify those items because of the ongoing investigation.
Let there be no mistake — it would be a vegan barbecue.
Howard had said Sunday that police entered the residence about four hours before a search warrant was signed and ransacked the home.
"The home was secured by our tactical troopers," Serrao said. "We certainly never ransacked any home."
Serrao said the investigators didn't enter the home but the SWAT team did, to secure it.
In our post-9/11, Patriot Act era, a wide range of activities have been branded with the "terrorist" label, including political activism - particularly activism on behalf of animal rights. At a congressional hearing in May, animal and environmental activists were declared the nation's top domestic terrorist organizations, despite the fact that neither group has harmed a single person in their decades-long histories.
But even if Mr. Cooney's claim were correct, there are still those troublesome dots: we have AR and radical Eco people claiming that the destruction of property is fully justifiable to further their cause, and in the last 15 years or so, we've seen an increase in the number of such acts, an increase in the scale of damage, and radical AR and Eco "direct actions" emerging as the most significant domestic terror threat. Additionally, there seems to be no prohibition on the methods by which property destruction should occur: so we see arson being a weapon of choice, irrespective of the fact that fiery conflagrations are intrinsically dangerous to responders and passersby alike.
And we have the likes of Dr. Jerry Vlasak, telling anyone listening that assassination is morally justifiable for the AR cause, and even openly advocating the practice of assassination itself. (After all, a human life is no more valuable than an animal life, and to discriminate against an animal simply because it is not a human is to commit the morally-indefensible act of "speciesism" . . .)
Given the obvious concern that some useful idiot will combine the destruction of property (whether by fire or bomb is irrelevant) while acting in accord with Dr. Vlasak's belief that taking a few human lives is morally justifiable if it saves a greater number of animal lives, what was unthinkable a decade ago — an act of massive property destruction intended as well to take human life — is now looming as a credible threat, one rational people cannot afford to ignore.
I'm glad our law enforcement people are connecting the dots that the Animal Rights and radical Eco people have spent 2 decades scattering about — and you should be glad too.