NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


July 11, 2008

Animal rights activists are increasingly taking their rage to scientists' front doors, says the Washington Times.  Over the past couple of years, more researchers who experiment on animals have been harassed and terrorized in their homes, with weapons that include firebombs, flooding and acid.

Scientists say the vandalism and intimidation threaten themselves, their families and the future of medical research.  These attacks have been escalating in recent years:

  • The Washington-based Foundation for Biomedical Research said researchers were harassed or otherwise victimized more than 70 times in 2003, up from 10 a year earlier.
  • The number of attacks has held steady or risen since, according to the group.

Accompanying the attacks is increasingly tough talk from activists such as Jerry Vlasak, a spokesman for the Animal Liberation Front.  Vlasak says "if you had to hurt somebody or intimidate them or kill them, it would be morally justifiable."

Though no one has been seriously hurt since the jump in home protests, the attacks have drawn the attention of the FBI.  The agency has broad authority to investigate animal rights incidents under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act of 2006.

FBI agent David Strange, who oversees a domestic counterterrorism squad at the FBI's Oakland office, says this type of attack is terrorism because it is a violent act violating federal criminal laws that has a political or social motivation to it.

Source: "Animal Advocates Torment Scientists," Washington Times, July 9, 2008.

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