UC Berkeley police, joined by federal and county law enforcement, raided the Long Haul Infoshop Aug. 27 in search of the source of threats to university researchers who experiment on animals.
The affidavit filed with Alameda County Superior Court Judge Judith Ford on Sept. 8 revealed that the search resulted from e-mails reportedly sent from the Infoshop’s computers in March and June.
Two civil liberties organizations are working with the Long Haul to challenge the warrant: The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of the National Lawyer’s Guild.
The search warrant affidavit, written by UCPD Detective Bill Kasiske and signed the day before the raid, followed previous warrants served on Santa Rosa-based Internet provider Sonic.net by fax on March 20 and July 22 and on e-mail provider Google on June 16.
According to Kasiske’s affidavit, many of the e-mails targeted Yang Dan, a professor of neurobiology specializing in the study of brain circuits used in the processing of visual information.
Her research figures in one website targeting 27 campus faculty involved in animal research, while a second website identifies her as the first among the six faculty members included in the “UC Berkeley Hall of Shame” for “stupid research on animals.”
Police seized six computers from the Infoshop Internet room and nine other computers from offices in the building, including several taken from padlocked rooms, including one used by the nonprofit East Bay Prisoner Support.
Also taken were two freestanding hard drives—including one that belonged to Berkeley Liberation Radio—as well as an assortment of CDs, cassettes and one plug-in flash drive.
According to the warrant, “Since September 2007, UCPD has documented at least nine separate incidents when animal rights activists have targeted” Dan’s home.
Kasiske’s affidavit cited one specific incident of vandalism at the residence on March 10, when city and campus police were called to her home in the Berkeley hills at 9:17 p.m. after a garbage can lid was thrown onto her roof and a window was broken.
Investigators found chalked messages and stickers “relating to animal rights,” Kasiske declared.
According to campus police records, a second incident of vandalism at another researcher’s home had been reported four minutes earlier at the home of Professor Stephen Glickman, targeted because of his research involving female hyenas.
At 8:30 p.m. that same evening, police had been called to the home of a third targeted research, Professor Jack Gallant, who has conducted research using Macaque monkeys.
Dan had also been the target of a one of two animal rights demonstrations held on Jan. 27, where Kasiske stated he had heard one of the protesters warn, “We are the friendly, above-ground activists. The next visit may not be so pretty.”
The detective also said that protesters invoked the initials ALF, or Animal Liberation Front, a leaderless international organization which has raided labs to free animals and targeted researchers with protests and graffiti.
The group’s initial were painted on the walls of the UC Davis John E. Thurman Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in 1987 after a $4.5 million blaze demolished the building. No arrests were ever made in the incident.
In the 12 months ending in July 2008, UC Berkeley officially reported “more than 20” incidents of damage to the homes and cars of campus researchers.
A UCLA researcher’s home was firebombed on Feb. 7, less than four months after the house had been flooded with a garden hose, and a van used to transport faculty was burned June 3, with the ALF taking credit in that incident.
The most recent acts of violence aimed at California academics doing animal research came in Santa Cruz on Aug. 2, when a firebombing destroyed one researcher’s car followed by a second incendiary attack on the home of another, which forced the family to flee the house through a second floor window. The ALF claimed responsibility for both attacks.
The ALF website lists incidents for which affiliates have claimed responsibility. See www.animalliberationpressoffice.org/ for details.
For more on the UC system’s approach to animal research protests and violence, see www.universityofcalifornia.edu/news/animalresearch/
According to Kasiske’s affidavit, several researchers were sent abusive e-mails between March 19 and 25, using fake accounts set up in the researchers’ own names.
“The messages had subject lines such as, ‘Hey animal killer,’ and ‘Why do you torture and kill animals?’,” Kasike wrote. He cited one example of what he described as the “obscene comments” contained in the e-mail texts: “The blood is on your hands you speciesist scum. They die. You profit. Sick motherfucker.”
Kasiske traced the source of the message to an Internet address assigned to Sonic.net, and the subsequent warrant identified the source as the Infoshop.
In his affidavit, the detective said that he knew the Long Haul “is a resource and meeting center for radical activists. I know that animal rights activists have held meetings at the Long Haul.”
On June 15, Dan forwarded six more e-mails to the detective sent to her the day before between 6:10 p.m. and 7:16 p.m.
According to the affidavit, the first declared “im a crazy fuck and im watching YOU ... YOU HAD BETTER STOP KILLING THOSE FUCKING ANIMALS OR I WILL SHOW YOU WHAT I HAVE IN STORE [redacted] AND IT AIN’T FUCKING PRETTY.”
The subsequent e-mails warned that the sender knew her credit cards numbers, the movies she had rented, and where she shopped.
The fourth message asked “havent you been paying fucking attention to the news and what is happening at UCLA ... quit torturing animals or you’re next to receive that and MUCH worse you fucking murderous scum”
The final message demanded she publicly renounce animal experiments: “EITHER YOU DO THAT OR I WILL FUCK YOUR LIFE UP,” the anonymous sender declared.
Kasiske cited the e-mail texts as the basis of his determination that the sender had violated section 646.9(a) of the state penal code, which declares “Any person who willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows or willfully and maliciously harasses another person and who makes a credible threat with the intent to place that person in reasonable fear for his or her safety, or the safety of his or her immediate family is guilty of the crime of stalking.”