Printer Friendly

Violent avengers.


WHAT DO FUR ranches, furriers, biomedical research facilities, pharmaceutical and cosmetic firms, universities, and furniture and leather goods stores have in common? Violent animal rights groups.

Few security professionals would argue with nonviolent, peaceful protest. However, regardless of how people feel about the treatment of animals, violence can never be justified under our system of government - no matter how honorable the cause. Violent animal rights groups represent a major disruption to society and may represent a major threat to all of us in the future. In attempting to preserve the rights of animals they are depriving a growing number of us of our rights - the right to be safe from terrorism and crime.

Although the targets of animal rights groups initially were restricted to research labs and furriers, the movement is now focusing on virtually all types of institutions (universities, department stores, furniture stores, leather goods stores, etc.). In essence, many of the groups are interpreting as their targeting mandate any organization that uses animals, animal skins, or animal by-products. This article will not discuss the pros and cons of the animal rights question but will inform readers of violent groups that exist, their tactics, targeting strategies, and what industry can do to reduce their success. Here is a sampling of the successes of these groups:

* In 1984, an attack on the City of Hope Research Institute at Duarte, CA, resulted in the theft of 100 animals and the destruction of research data. Estimated loss: $500,000.

* In 1985, an attack on the animal research facility at the University of California at Irvine resulted in the theft of 250 animals and the destruction of vital research data. Estimated loss: $600,000.

* In 1986, a Rockville, MD, research laboratory was broken into resulting in the theft of four chimpanzees and the destruction of vital research data. Estimated loss: $100,000.

* In 1987, the Bellville, MD, Agricultural Research Center laboratory was broken into, resulting in the theft of 27 cats and seven pigs. Estimated loss: $100,000.

* In 1988, a New York woman was arrested for attempting to place a pipe bomb outside a surgical instruments company. Her apartment contained three other pipe bombs and a shotgun.

* In 1989, the animal research laboratory at the University of Arizona at Tuscon was the target of arson and the theft of 1,200 animals. Estimated loss: $100,000.

* In 1989, an animal rights group bombed the Senate House of Bristol University in England, using two pounds of plastic explosive a sophisticated bomb that could have killed hundreds. Estimated damage: $150,000.

Until 1980, the impact of animal rights groups in the United States was so faint that few security professionals even knew of their existence. Yet in England the animal rights movement through the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), which was founded there in 1976, engaged in such violence that it was successful in significantly reducing the British fur industry. Although ALF activities have waned in recent years, major successes by ALF cells in the United States have sparked new violence in London. For instance, the Daily Telegraph recently reported that the placement of incendiary devices and death threats made against furriers have resulted in the closure of numerous fur salons.

WITHIN THE ANIMAL RIGHTS movement there are three types of animal rights groups: non-violent, humanitarian-violent, and nonhumanitarian violent. Nonviolent groups, often well funded from public appeals, largely seek legislative changes against using animals in medical research and against the commercial use of animal furs. Such groups also often engage in nonviolent protests and boycott various products of organizations with which they disagree. Examples of such organizations include the New England Anti-Vivisection Society and countless public and private humane societies. Several months ago, a group known as Trans-Species Unlimited engaged in an effective campaign in New York where they orally attacked pedestrians wearing fur coats.

Humanitarian violent groups, on the other hand, such as the Band of Mercy, ALF, and the Urban Gorillas, engage in bombings, destruction of research records, commando raids aimed at business disruption, releasing animals, spray-painting buildings, burning vehicles, personal threats, sabotage, and arson. ALF and related groups differ from nonhumanitarian violent groups in that the latter represent a small number of anarchists who participate in violence for its own sake or for profit (for example, kidnapping a furrier or a research director). Politically motivated international terrorists may also find it useful to use animal rights as a means of concealing other motives.

ALF's success in England and in Australia has caused law enforcement and security communities to accord ALF and similar groups considerable respect, largely because they are organized in the same fashion as cellular terrorist organizations. ALF, for instance, has no national or global organizational structure. As its training manual reflects, "There is no formal membership. People become members by taking part in ALF actions, not by paying money and filling out forms."

Because few US law enforcement and security organizations have devoted much attention to crime by animal rights groups, information about violent animal rights groups is difficult to obtain. Yet, information is beginning to emerge that tells us a good bit about group relationships.

For example, there may be a relationship between ALF and People for the Ethical Treatment for Animals (PETA). Specifically, Ingrid Newkirk, the British-born founder of PETA, runs her 65-employee organization not far from the nation's capital and claims to have a $5 million-a-year budget. From available information. PETA is now recruiting investigators to increase the pace of its activities.

Although it is unknown whether ALF and PETA are one and the same, it may not be coincidental that PETA often releases press statements within hours of facility break-ins. For instance, when a Rockville, MD, federal laboratory was broken into in 1986 and chimpanzees were stolen, PETA released within a day a videotape produced inside the lab - a tape taken over a period of months. In that case, PETA claimed a group known as the Band of Mercy was responsible.

Insofar as tactics are concerned, groups such as ALF are quickly gaining the respect of US law enforcement agencies that have had to deal with their results. Invariably, attacks on laboratories are conducted at night after considerable preincident surveillance. Nighttime break-ins often involve as many as 10 commandos; members use traditional terrorist tactics such as sabotage, arson, destruction of records and equipment, and releasing animals.

Two significant facts underline ALF's training, planning, and organization. Thus far, there has been only one conviction in the United States for breaking into an animal research laboratory. In over 90 percent of the cases of attacks on labs, staff sympathy or infiltration has existed.

Unfortunately, in contrast to the past, ALF tactics are beginning to focus on any institution that uses animals or animal products.

WE CAN PURSUE A NUMBER OF steps to reduce the threat of animal rights groups. These include legislative, law enforcement, educational, and informational solutions.

Senator Howell F. Heflin (D-AL) introduced legislation earlier this year known as the Animal Research Facility Protection Act, which would make it a federal crime to steal, destroy, or make unauthorized use of research animals, equipment, or data. While a commendable effort, some wonder just how effective another law would be. It appears far more practical simply to enforce the statutes we already have regarding sabotage, arson, burglary, and destruction of government property.

Other solutions include training law enforcement agencies in animal rights tactics and how such groups can be successfully prosecuted. Few law enforcement agencies are fully aware of the problem and the potential that animal rights groups have to cloak genuine terrorists. With only one felony arrest for a lab break-in, we obviously have a long way to go.

Insofar as educational and informational efforts are concerned, the security profession needs to provide advice and publications to the business and research communities on how to reduce animal rights groups' threats. The majority of research facilities rely too heavily on electronic security to prevent break-ins. Most labs do not employ security managers and are vulnerable to security system installers who have little experience in protecting assets and reducing risk. Because the majority of lab break-ins involve inside help, there's a need for broad-based programs rather than those based solely on covering a door with a closed-circuit television camera.

Unfortunately, our society is attracted to gadgets. Yet, gadgets alone will not protect a laboratory, research facility, furrier, or mink farm. Only effective, tested procedures and well-trained employees will.

ALF and other violent groups have had considerable success recently both at home and in England. They have forced furriers to close or reduce their hours, and they have forced research to be stopped. Unless US law enforcement and security professionals focus on animal rights groups soon, it may be too late to catch up.

In short, violent activity is no longer infrequent. In recent months, the number of overt incidents has doubled. Research directors are receiving death threats, harassing calls, and bomb threats. Unfortunately, as the groups increase their activities, eventually someone will be killed.

As one lab director asked not long ago, "Will ALF shut down the very lab that might have found the cure for AIDS just as a lab contributed to the cure for polio?"

Known Animal

Rights Groups

Animal Liberation Front (ALF)* Band of Mercy* People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) Trans-Species Unlimited* Urban Gorrilas* World Society for the Protection of Animals Fund for Animals Inc.* Animal Abused Society* Animal Liberation Militia*

* Potentially violent groups or those that have allegedly used violence in the past.

About the Author... Edward L. Lee II, CPP, is president of Edward L. Lee Security Consultants Inc., a consulting firm in Falls Church, VA. His firm publishes The Animal Rights Security Advisor newsletter and maintains statistics on animal rights targeting. He is a member of ASIS.
COPYRIGHT 1989 American Society for Industrial Security
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:violent animal rights groups; includes related information
Author:Lee, Edward L., II
Publication:Security Management
Date:Dec 1, 1989
Previous Article:Succeed with report support.
Next Article:Focus on the fundamentals.

Related Articles
The roar over animal rights.
Securing research facilities against activist attacks.
Jamming the Gears.
Proceeding with caution: in the wake of September 11, environmental direct-action groups change their tactics. (Currents).
Animal abuse and youth violence. (Bulletin Reports).
Debating censorship.
Violence-related injury takes heavy U.S. toll.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2016 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters