saw the return of the quintessential A.L.F. action: the lab raid. After 7 years
of dormancy, the Animal Liberation Front has resurrected its laboratory liberation
campaign, and in the last year has broken into 4 research facilities, liberating
nearly 200 animals. These actions mark the return of a daring high-risk, high-skill
operation and reintroduce an urgent "get-in-and-get-the-animals-out"
approach not seen since the 80's.
Decades of legal anti-vivisection campaigning,
including letter writing and sign waving, failed to effect change for animals
in laboratories as swiftly as a few active bands of the A.L.F. in the 1980s. These
selfless individuals, wielding crowbars, brought the American public its first
glimpses of the horrors committed on animals in laboratory torture chambers through
the huge media exposure the early lab raids generated throughout the '80s.
achievements and victories of these few bands of caring warriors must never be
forgotten and must never be understated. And though we may have failed the animals
in labs for a dark era of inaction, let us look back at their story and now pick
up where they left off.
Breaking Down the Doors
The 1984 raid
of the University of Pennsylvania marks the A.L.F.'s greatest lab raid success.
May 28 the Animal Liberation Front picked the lock to Thomas Gennarelli's head
injury research lab at the University of Pennsylvania, smashing every piece of
equipment in the lab and confiscating over 60 hours of Gennarelli's own research
footage on his head smashing experiments with live primates. Gennarelli, who had
for years hidden behind a laboratory door and thumbed his nose at animal advocates,
had just met the animal rights movement's new answer to vivisection secrecy: the
The footage revealed the most horrific glimpse inside a vivisection
lab ever seen before or since 60 hours of inadequately anesthetized primates plastered
into restraining devices receiving blows to the head at up to 1000 times the force
of gravity. The video brought the evil of animal research to the attention of
the nation and its "reallocation" became the A.L.F.'s most publicized
The A.L.F. of the 1980s found its greatest voice in PETA, who
acted as a mouthpiece for the A.L.F. following the raids, holding press conferences
and distributing videos and seized documents to the media. The PETA press conference
following the Gennarelli raid set off a media-wildfire surrounding the confiscated
footage and sparked a fierce standoff between the compassionate public and the
animal researchers. The biomedical research PR machine swung into motion, reassuring
an outraged public of the "necessity" of head injury research. They
said the choice was simple: the baboons or their children.
The A.L.F. responded
two months later by breaking into the University of Pennsylvania Vet School and
liberating one dog.
A witchhunt was already underway for the A.L.F. raiders,
introducing to the movement the now routine grand jury. High-profile animal rights
activists and PETA employees were subpoenaed to answer questions before a panel
closed to the public. The A.L.F.'s answer to these attempts at neutralization
and to the blatant lies of vivisectors came 4 days after the previous break-in:
UP Vet school raided - four cats, one dog and eight pigeons were liberated. The
When the smoke cleared it was a victory for the A.L.F.
and the animals: NIH funding was revoked and Gennarelli's lab was shut down.
one lab to the next throughout the '80s, the Animal Liberation Front saw the suffering,
the torture, the legal means ignored, and implemented their timely and direct
reaction to the slaughter - break down the doors, smash the labs, get the animals
out. The U of P break-ins displayed what best characterized the A.L.F. raids of
the '80s - a sense of urgency. And the A.L.F.never rested long.
By the end of 1984, the East Coast had seen 10 lab break-ins
compared to the West Coast's three. In the east were NYU Medical Center (1 cat,
2 dogs, 2 guinea pigs), University of Southern Florida (55 gerbils, 35 rats),
University of Massachusetts (2 rabbits), University of Maryland (42 rabbits),
Howard University (30 cats), US Naval Medical Research Institute (1 dog), US Naval
Medical Research Institute (3 dogs), John Hopkins University (6 rats), University
of Pennsylvania and University of Florida (many rats), and in the west were UC
Berkeley (3 cats), UCLA Harbor Medical Center (12 dogs), and Cal State Sacramento
(23 rats). December 1984 would put the West Coast A.L.F. on the map and mark the
first in a wave of high profile, expertly planned and executed lab break-ins in
California during the mid '80s.
Tips from an inside whistleblower filtered
down to A.L.F. operatives during 1984 and led to the highly publicized raid on
the City of Hope cancer research labs in Duarte, suburban LA.
source inside the lab allowed the band pre-raid entry into the facility, where
the A.L.F. noted numbers and varieties of animals, allowing time to arrange homes
for the freed prisoners from what would be the A.L.F.'s largest lab liberation
During the early morning hours of December 9, 1984, the Animal
Liberation Front gained access to the City of Hope labs via a door left open by
the inside hand, destroyed over a half-million dollars in research, and loaded
up 13 cats, 18 rabbits, 21 dogs, 50 mice and dozens more. The A.L.F. - 115; City
of Hope - zero.
The City of Hope raid showcased the 1980s' expertly orchestrated
media campaigns where the highest importance was placed on projecting a Robin
Hood-image to the public, and releasing confiscated research documents and video
to the media to expose the fraud and lies of animal research. Through post-raid
media coverage, the A.L.F. brought vivisection to the forefront and expedited
its demise swifter than the hundred years of legal protest that preceded them.
crucial realization led to this approach - the animals that they liberate always
seem to get replaced. The A.L.F. never lost sight of the importance of individual
lives, but it was the ripple effect of the A.L.F. raids during the '80s that proved
to save the most animals in the long term. Job #1: Liberate. Job #2: Expose. It
was the A.L.F.'s steps to "expose" which would ultimately be the vivisectors'
biggest threat and what would bring the A.L.F. and the animals their greatest
Video documentation and seized research logs from the raid had
the most damaging effect on the City of Hope. When it was all over, City of Hope
lost $700,000 in research, many experiments were permanently ended and, citing
Animal Welfare Act infractions, the NIH suspended $1 million in funding. Another
victory, but the A.L.F. was only getting started.
"This Is Only
By 1985, the West Coast had an active, expertly
skilled A.L.F. cell coupled with safehouses and a highly efficient underground
railroad. A.L.F. cell members were closely linked with known aboveground animal
rights groups. Underground activists had positions inside such groups, intercepting
whistleblower tips about research facilities and utilizing the help of sympathetic
volunteers at mainstream groups who passed down information gained from such calls.
The West Coast cell was quick to utilize the information from concerned employees,
research assistants, students and vet techs passed to them, often warming up to
and nurturing whistleblowers for their assistance in gaining access to the labs.
It was through one such inside hand that the A.L.F. pulled off what would be it's
most ambitious raid yet, and left authorities wondering, "How did they get
During the early morning hours of April 20, 1985, the Animal Liberation
Front gained access to the psychology labs at the University of California at
Riverside, removed laboratory doors form their hinges, and liberated nearly 1000
animals. When vivisectors arrived the next morning, they found their labs trashed.
Property damage exceeded $700,000. "Research," vice chancellor of the
university said, "has been set back years."
It was the A.L.F.'s
largest liberation ever - 21 cats, 9 opossums, 38 pigeons,70 gerbils, 300 mice,
300 rats, 300 rabbits, and a little baby monkey named Britches.
was an infant macaque, the subject of a sight deprivation experiment since birth.
When the A.L.F. released video footage of Britches - only slightly larger than
a human hand, an electronic implant taped to his tiny head, eyes sewn shut - it
was a PR disaster for the biomedical research industry. News coverage of the UC
Riverside raid and Britches, the baby monkey, elicited an emotional and outraged
response from much of the public, forcing the vivisectors to answer for the unjustifiable
cruelty revealed by the raid - starved pigeons, mutilated opossums, cats with
eyes sewn shut, and a showpiece in the war against vivisection - a little baby
monkey named Britches. News coverage and public response to the A.L.F. rescue
missions of the '80s contrast sharply to "terrorist" portrayal in media
reports of the contemporary A.L.F. The public and media, it seemed, were in love
with the A.L.F.
That the A.L.F. affected permanent change was undeniable.
Eight of the 17 experiments interrupted by the A.L.F. at UC Riverside were never
begun again. The psychology department no longer allowed baby monkeys' eyes to
be sewn shut. Heat was installed to the outdoor primate colony. And one vivisector
quit animal research forever.
Above The Law
During the early
morning hours of October 26, 1986 the Animal Liberation Front entered the Science
I building at the University of Oregon in Eugene, broke into 3 labs and rescued
264 animals from certain torture and death. Damage exceeded $120,000. There was
no sign of forced entry.
The A.L.F. released a statement following the rescue
stating, "This is just the beginning of our efforts to liberate those oppressed
in research concentration camps in Oregon. We will not allow the slaughter to
continue without resistance. You will hear from us again soon."
raid brought into the spotlight the until-then-unknown bloody career of Barbara
Gordon-Lickey a researcher at the University, who for over 17 years had tortured
over a hundred kittens in pain research experiments and was the stated target
of the break-in: "This freedom raid, which included the destruction of instruments
inside these torture chambers, was directed at a butcher known as Barbara Gordon-Lickey,
and in retaliation for the hundreds of innocent kittens she has murdered in the
name of science."
The communiqué went on to explain the finer
tactical points of research equipment destruction: "(a) $10,000 microscope
was destroyed in about 12 seconds with a 36-inch steel wrecking bar that we purchased
at a Fred-Meyer store for less than five dollars. We consider that a pretty good
return on our investment." The statement continues, "the primate stereotaxic
device...(is) one of the most sinister instruments of torture ever devised by
the human mind. We took particular delight in destroying it."
of Oregon raid showcased what has been proven in break-in after break-in to ultimately
be the A.L.F.'s most damaging tactic - the confiscation of damning documents and
photos. The U of O raiders seized veterinary logs, cage notes, and over 400 photographs
- many of the most graphic ever obtained by the animal rights movement. The photographs
revealed the callousness of the vivisectors and the barbarity of their "research."
One photo-series contains a gruesome "staged caesarian delivery," showing
a clearly terrified baby monkey being "delivered" from the stomach of
a female researcher. These photos, taken by researchers of each other as they
abused and made fun of animals, were released to the media at press conferences
in Eugene and LA following the raid.
The confiscated photos proved, once
again, to be a PR disaster for the researchers. The University quickly moved the
"evidence" of such violations asseen in the photos - the remaining primates
- to a secret location elsewhere on campus.
Once again the A.L.F. exposed,
in a high profile raid, absolute proof of blatant animal abuse inside vivisection
labs. And once again the researchers repeated form-response after form-response
that the raided facilities were "isolated instances," "an embarrassment
to all research" and "not the norm." To alert members of the public,
this was becoming difficult to accept.
The University of Oregon brought
the movement its second A.L.F.-related arrest.
The night of the University
of Oregon rescue Roger Troen, a known animal advocate, received an anonymous phone
call. The caller asked Roger if he coulddrive to Eugene without mentioning it
to anyone and take some animals in desperate need of a home. No details were offered
as to the animals' origin, though as Roger put it, "I didn't need to ask."
later a veterinarian who had been asked to examine the animals led the police
to Roger. The court case that followed put the University of Oregon andits vivisectors
on the witness stand where the "scientists" were forced to describe
their careers and the barbaric research protocols taking place insidetheir labs,
bringing the vivisectors out from behind the walls of secrecy where they would
prefer to hide.
Roger Troen received 6 months home detention and ordered
to pay restitution for his role in the A.L.F.'s Underground Railroad. 10 rabbits
were recovered and returned to the University labs. 254 animals were never located
by investigators. Each one is an A.L.F. victory.
The Flames of Justice
next lab attack brought to America the A.L.F.'s most effective tool against animal
abuser Naziism, introducing a strategy of "maximum destruction, not minimum
damage," and setting the direction of large-scale A.L.F. actions for much
of the next 15 years.
On April 16, 1987, the under-construction Animal Diagnostic
Lab at UC Davis was firebombed. The animal research lab designed to cater to the
needs of the food-animal industry burned to the ground. Damage was at $4.5 million.
It is the most expensive A.L.F. action to date.
It was on that night the
American A.L.F. gave birth to its most functional tool to directly render the
instruments and structures of animal torture permanently inoperable. Circumventing
the effort, risk, and limited damage of a nighttime live liberation after the
lab's completion, the A.L.F. simply erased the Animal Diagnostics lab from existence.
Davis, the fire bombings continued through northern California with further actions
claimed by the Animal Rights Militia including a $10,000 fire at the San Jose
Veal Company warehouse, followed by a $230,000 fire at the Ferrara Meat Company.
Two days later a poultry warehouse was set on fire and sustained $200,000 in damages.
The A.L.F. took credit. The arson campaign continued into 1988 with the firebombing
of the San Jose Meat Company, burning the building to the ground, and the torching
of a fur store in Santa Rosa. The store never reopened. But the A.L.F., as they
say, was only "warming up."
"Nowhere To Hide"
bolt cutters, crowbars, and blueprints retrieved from laboratory dumpsters, A.L.F.
freedom fighters systematically raided four buildings at the University of Arizona
in Tucson on April 3, 1989, setting two fires, burning one building to the ground,
doing nearly $300,000 in damages and liberating over 1,200 animals. It was the
largest live laboratory liberation to date and arguably the most monumental A.L.F.
The raid began in the early morning hours when A.L.F. operatives
broke into a ground floor door of the Bio-West building, took an elevator to the
sixth floor, and wheeled out 965 animals before destroying the labs. Simultaneously
across campus at the Shantz building, a second team removed an air vent cover
approximately 12 feet off the ground, entered an airshaft and broke into a ground
floor laboratory. Soon after, raiders broke into a ground floor door at the Microbiology/Pharmacy
building, took an elevator to the sixth floor, and rescued additional animals.
the animals were out, one lab and one autopsy room was destroyed, the walls soaked
in gasoline and the entire area torched. The team then moved off campus where
an incendiary was placed under the building housing the office of the UA's director
of animal research. The building and all contents were destroyed. Damages neared
$300,000, and 1,231 animals were out of the vivisectors' lethal reach.
news articles after the rescue called it a "Rambo-style remake of the story
of Noah's ark."
A police report following the raid testified to the
precision of the action. In the ensuing investigation, the UAPD "found little
or no physical evidence left behind." The police found " the organization...
prepares extensively for its strikes, leaves little or no evidence for police
purposes, and operates at peak efficiency."
the animal rescue and incendiary attacks took less than90 minutes. "The A.L.F.,"
the report stated, "had thoroughly prepared for this attack." The police
had no suspects.
A crucial and intended effect of A.L.F. actions, large
or small, is the increase in the cost of killing animals. Following the rescue
mission, campus police announced that as a direct result of the break-in, the
University of Arizona had "to divest $1 million into animal research protection."
By 5:00 PM the day of the raid, 24-hour security by off duty police was ordered
at 11 campus research sites. This 24-hour security coverage continued for 6 weeks
following the raid at a cost of $40,000 a week. Animal research labs scattered
in 11 separate buildings throughout campus were consolidated into two secured
facilities. The University of Arizona spent half a million dollars on new security
following the raid to prevent against another A.L.F. break-in. With the University
of Arizona raid, the A.L.F.'s statement was clear - the cost of torturing animals
just went up.
Into the '90s
Direct action in the '80s ended
with a break-in at John "Gorem" Orem's Texas Tech lab with 5 cats liberated
and $70,000 damage to equipment. Less publicized raids took place into the early
'90s with 6 rabbits liberated from a lab in Florida; 100 guinea pigs liberated
from Simonsen Labs in Gilroy, CA; 750 mice, rats, and hamsters from a lab in Buffalo,
NY; and 11 rabbits and 10 guinea pigs from Cook County Hospital in Chicago. These
and the 4-state "Operation Bite Back" campaign to end the fur industry
would be the A.L.F.'s final lab raids for several years.
Fast forward to
1999. Modern labs were perceived by many as being impenetrable. Lab liberations
had been non-existent for 7 years. Then, on April 5, 1999, ten years and two days
after the University of Arizona raid, masked liberators broke into two separate
buildings at the University of Minnesota rescuing 116 animals and using wrecking
bars and sledgehammers to inflict a $2 million blow to vivisection.
the A.L.F.'s most triumphant comeback, setting off a wave of lab liberations and
sabotage lasting through the end of the year. 1999 saw the liberation of 193 animals
from medical research, more than the previous 9 years combined. Small-scale property
damage of the early-mid '90s has given way to mink releases in great numbers,
large scale arsons, and now, thanks to small cells of masked liberators with crowbars,
the return of the lab raid.
The A.L.F. of the 1980s brought the horrors
of vivisection from the shadows and formed the first true threat to the demons
in their torture chambers who chose to murder the innocent. Month after month,
throughout the 80s, many of these monsters found the Animal Liberation Front coming
through their door.
To those demons who were not stopped and still continue
- lock yourself inside because the storm is brewing again.