Three months ago, the Oakland Tribune ran a story about UC-Berkeley’s hope to get a restraining order against animal rights activists accused of harassing university animal lab researchers _ at their homes.
Since that March story, the weekly attacks on more than a dozen researcher’s homes have continued. “It really hasn’t changed. They are there once a weekend,” said university spokesman Robert Sanders Wednesday.
Reading Matier and Ross at the top of SF Gate this morning one might think this harassment is something new. “Officials have been trying to keep the protests quiet, in part out of concern that publicity will only cause more incidents and an escalation in violence. At UCLA, animal rights protests have included attempted firebombings and one instance in which a researcher’shome was flooded with a garden hose,” the SF Gate story says.
“Looking at the numbers, it’s pretty clear that keeping things quiet in the press hasn’t toned down the protesters much. It’s just as clear, however, that the protesters aren’t reaching their goals, either,” the SF Gate story says.
The group, which calls itself Stop UC Berkeley Vivisection, began showing up at the homes of UC-Berkeley researchers in the East Bay on weekends last fall.
UC Berkeley clearly wants to put an end to the harassment _ but it’s not easy.
“We don’t have enough to go to court with a restraining order and since they wear masks it’s hard to identify who they are,” Sanders said Wednesday.
The group claims that more than 40,000 non-human animals are housed on the UC Berkeley campus for research purposes. Roughly 50 percent are mice, 40 percent are cold-blooded animals, 9 percent are other rodents, such as voles and wild mice, while the remaining 1 percent are primates, cats, coyotes, hyenas, ferrets, rabbits, and invertebrates.
The activists usually show up with bullhorns late at night, and call the researchers murderers and torturers. They have broken flowerpots and used chalk to write demeaning messages on sidewalks outside the homes, police said. Cars have also been vandalized. Earlier this month, Sanders tells us, someone threw a rock through a researcher’s home window and the window of a nearby neighbor during the day. No one was injured.
San Francisco FBI Special Agent Joseph Schadler has said the FBI is working with police, and has sent agents to UC-Santa Cruz following an attempted home invasion of a biomedical researcher there in February. He could not say whether the events in the East Bay and Santa Cruz are related.