[CLARIFIED:] Animal Liberation Campaign Against Brea Medical Supply Company Turns Uglier
See the clarification at the end of this post about the group that released the statement about the latest vandalism against a Brea medical supply company official.
A 13-year war between a U.K.-based cosmetics company and militant animal rights activists has spilled over to a Brea medical supplier and the Orange County homes of its employees.
The latest flare-up was Sunday evening in Yorba Linda, where a female executive found her backyard pool water dyed red and "PUPPY KILLER" and other messages spray painted in red on her garage door and driveway.
Another message discovered on the garage door of vice president Allison Blackwell's home in the 5700 block of Via Del Potrero--before police were called just before 7 p.m.--was, "DROP HLS," a reference to Huntingdon Life Sciences. The British cosmetics company's animal testing has been targeted by the Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty campaign since 1999.
Demonstrations began peacefully in front of the Huntingdon Life headquarters in the U.K., but the activism has grown more vehement--and violent--over the years. Threatening calls have been made to HLS employees' homes, 11 vehicles belonging to workers have been fire bombed and packages containing feces, dead animals and razor blades have been sent to houses of HLS staffers.
"One HLS executive was assaulted with pepper spray and struck in full view of his family," according to court documents. "HLS's managing director was viciously beaten outside his home by masked men wielding axe handles."
Huntingdon Life obtained an injunction limiting the Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty coalition's ability to conduct protests against it and from terrorizing HLS employees and their homes. Some activists have reacted by switching targets to companies they claim are tied to HLS, including UPS, Citibank, Charles Schwab, Merrill Lynch, Aetna Insurance and Johnson & Johnson. This has extended to employees of those companies, and the FBI has now labeled Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty a terrorist group.
The latest company in the campaign's cross-hairs is the Brea-based medical supplier Beckman Coulter, Inc., the employer of the Yorba Linda executive whose garage door needs a new paint job and pool needs to be drained.
Beckman Coulter officials say the activists are employing tactics previously used against HLS and HLS employees against Beckman Coulter and its workers, including vandalism and posting photos and addresses of employees and former employees on websites.
In May, the company obtained a restraining order in Orange County Superior Court against Band of Mercy Inc., which is affiliated with Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty, to stop harassing its employees. Named were Band of Mercy members Nicoal Sheen, Tyler Lang, Ezell Rima Jomaa and Shannon Maas.
Represented by Frank Broccolo of LA law firm Sidley Austin, Beckman Coulter cited the following specific incidents in court documents . . .
March: Band of Mercy members allegedly gathered outside the homes Blackwell, Beckman Coulter president Bob Hurley and Clair O'Donovan,
According to Beckman Coulter, the actions against the firm and its workers are unwarranted because it does no animal testing while developing, marketing and manufacturing medical testing equipment.
The company claims its products also help scientists study the causes of diseases and come up with new treatments. And officials swear they have no control over HLS and its animal testing.
Beckman Coulter estimates it has spent $50,000 so far for extra security for its workers, according to court documents, which calls on the Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty campaign to: remove from its websites all posts referring to it or its employees; provide notice in writing at least six hours before a demonstration; stop demonstrating within 150 feet of property lines at its headquarters and employees' homes; stop contacting employees by email and by phone; and stop using sound amplifying devices like bullhorns and stop threatening violence.
But not only are Stop Huntingdon campaigners switching targets, they are switching targeters. Beckman Coulter's original injunction was directed toward Band of Mercy, but it was the North American Animal Liberation Front (ALF) that took responsibility for Sunday's vandalism at Blackwell's home, which was estimated to cause $2,000 in damage.
The North American Animal Liberation Front issued a press release informing the victim: "You know what to do to bring this to an end. Cut your losses and drop HLS. Until then expect to spend thousands more on damages because this is not a one time event." The red-stained pool was meant "to remind her of the blood on her hands," according to the statement.
Despite the legal moves against the Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty campaign, the activist seem undeterred, as proven by the message sprayed in red on Blackwell's driveway:
"This is only the beginning."
CLARIFICATION: This post originally reported that the North American Animal Liberation Front took responsibility for the latest vandalism in Yorba Linda. That produced the following email from the group clarifying its role in the matter:
The anonymous communique accredited to the Animal Liberation Front (A.L.F) was released to the media and public by the North American Animal Liberation Press Office.
The North American Animal Liberation Press Office is a legal, above-ground entity that releases and clarifies to the media communiques it receives from anonymous underground animal liberationists.
The Press Office is not a protest organization nor do we have any affiliation with any other organizations; we are news reporters offering the historical and philosophical insight as to why actions are undertaken by individuals who are fighting for animal liberation. Furthermore, Press Officers do not engage in illegal activities, nor do they know any individuals who do.
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