Animal Rights Activist Speaks To UC Berkeley Advocacy Group

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Correction Appended

In a visit to UC Berkeley Wednesday, an animal rights activist spoke to a student organization about continuing to protest what he characterized as inhumane animal treatment at the campus, which regularly performs research on animals.

Peter Young, who set at least eight thousand minks free from fur farms in October 1997, talked about his past experiences and encouraged members of the Berkeley Organization for Animal Advocacy to reevaluate their activist strategies, said Katie Cantrell, the organization's president.

"He was a fantastic speaker, a lot of people there talked about how they were moved by him," Cantrell said. "He talked about how important it is to assess how effective your methods are. A lot of people wave a sign around and think that they do something, but it's not effective."

Although most animal rights supporters have employed peaceful methods of protest, Cantrell said a small minority of activists still resort to illegal and violent methods.

Between August 2007 and February 2009, the UCPD logged about 160 illegal incidents targeting UC Berkeley researchers at their homes or workplaces, according to campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof.

"It is completely abhorrent that researchers that are only trying to advance knowledge have been subject to threats, physical violence, firebombings and assault," Mogulof said.

In March, four animal rights activists were charged with violating the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act by harassing UC Berkeley and UC Santa Cruz professors. The activists are due in a San Jose court today for their preliminary hearing.

Animal rights attorney Christine Garcia-who represented one of the activists, Berkeley resident Joseph Buddenberg-said there are new alternatives to animal research.

"It's a huge waste of money, lives, and it's really preventing these minds from expanding their thoughts and research skills to something more applicable and more progressive," Garcia said.

Cantrell said that students responded positively to Young's advice despite the fact that he performed an illegal act by freeing the minks from the fur farms.

"He's a little bit controversial because he's used illegal methods, but I think the main message is keeping in mind the suffering, and doing everything you can," she said. "I think it motivated a lot of people there to do things."


Correction: Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Clarification: An earlier version of the this article may have implied that the campus conducts inhumane animal research. While the campus does conduct research on animals, the characterization that is is inhumane was that of speaker Peter Young.

The Daily Californian regrets the error.

Contact Mihir Zaveri at [email protected]

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