Animal Welfare Group Challenges Animal Rights Leadership to Denounce Corruption in their Movement

By: Patti Strand  Date: 11/1/2001

Portland, Oregon, Nov. 1, 2001

Today the Portland-based animal welfare group, National Animal Interest Alliance (NAIA), is issuing a call to animal rights leaders worldwide to condemn the growing violence in their movement - violence whose perpetrators FBI director Louis Freeh has called, "the most recognizable single issue terrorists of the present time."

According to Patti Strand, NAIA's national director, "Just a week ago, animal rights terrorists sent a warning to animal researchers in the form of letters rigged with concealed razor blades.  An animal rights terrorist organization calling itself the Justice Department listed the targeted researchers' names on the Internet and ordered them to 'release all your primate captives and get out of the vivisection industry.'" Strand says that more than 50 researchers, including scientists at Harvard, UC Davis and at universities in Georgia, Wisconsin, Oregon and Texas have received these booby-trapped envelopes so far.

"It is a sad commentary on today's animal protection movement," said Strand.  "Instead of showing compassion for the victims of intimidation and violence, some animal rights leaders actually used these tragic events as platforms for spouting hateful and inflammatory rhetoric.  In Defense of Animals president Elliott Katz, is a prime example. He says his beliefs are aligned with the nonviolent beliefs of Martin Luther King, Jr., but used the attack as an opportunity to malign animal researchers again. Katz issued a preposterous press release, alleging that animal torturers guided by the AMA sent these letters themselves to give the animal rights movement a bad name."

"Surely," says Strand who is a recognized expert and author on the animal rights movement, "Mr. Katz is familiar enough with the well-documented criminal history of his own movement to accept the credit taken for these acts by one of its own.  Unfortunately, this episode is simply business as usual for today's animal rights extremists.  Just days before these letters arrived animal extremists firebombed vehicles at a Rhode Island fur store, vandalized a University laboratory in Washington and a McDonalds restaurant in NY.  Almost three years ago to the day, they caused $12 million in damage to a Vail Colorado ski resort, supposedly to save lynx habitat, and in between these events they committed a staggering number of violent acts that can only be classified as hate crimes: they issued death threats to fur farmers and research scientists; chained a 62 year old woman to a fence; destroyed life-saving research; burned agricultural coops to the ground; destroyed fur farms, releasing mink that were later found dead on the roads; vandalized fast food restaurants in the US and burned one to the ground in Europe."  Strand refers readers to a chronology of animal rights and eco-terror crimes.

These acts, according to Strand, "show that however successful animal rights extremists are at marketing their cause, their behavior bears a stronger resemblance to the mob, skin heads and the Klan than it does to the nonviolent civil-rights movement of Martin Luther King, Jr., that Katz likens them to.  King ordered his followers to practice nonviolence or leave.  Ingrid Newkirk leader of PETA, the above ground fund-raising and publicity arm for animal rights movement, does not.  This is a decidedly different kind of movement from King's."

At NAIA says Strand, "we are concerned that this brand of animal protectionism - or whatever it is - will ultimately lead to serious injury or death.  Further, we are troubled that the advancement of the animal rights cause seems dependent on intimidation and terror tactics that many animal rights leaders refuse to condemn or denounce.  Abiding this cause while its most visible leaders are unwilling to unequivocally condemn violence invites disaster."

That is why NAIA is calling on movement leaders today to finally rise up and condemn these illegal and immoral acts.  As a service to the public and to the animal protection movement itself, NAIA will maintain a public listing on its website of all animal groups that publicly denounce violence and illegality.  In order to remove the criminal element from the animal protection movement, according to Strand, the supporters of violence in the above ground movement must first be exposed.  "Only when responsible leaders rise up and take a stand against criminal behavior will the tide begin to turn.  The American public as well as law enforcement agents need to be able to distinguish between true animal advocates and criminal exploiters, between accountable leaders and fundraising mobsters, between legitimate charities and groups that exploit animals to fundraise, deceive and extort."

The National Animal Interest Alliance, believes that a truly humane society can only exist in an environment that shows respect for differing views, that promotes honest debate and that is committed to lawful action.  For in the final analysis, says Strand, "whether terrorists bomb abortion clinics, research labs or fur farms or burn crosses in the front yards of Jews, Catholics, African Americans or research scientists, their tactics cannot be tolerated in a free society.  If the animal rights cause is so bankrupt that its advancement depends on criminal acts, then people of character must replace it with a movement of principle."

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