Animal Protection > Worldwide Actions > Finland

Raiding a Lab with the Finnish A.L.F.
from No Compromise Issue 27

The story of an A.L.F. raid on a Finnish University. The trials, the errors, and how they got the job done. "I don't think we have to explain the moral of this story to activists. You know the drill - anyone can undertake raids: they are not just for professionals."

In the summer of 1998, Finnish animal rights activists had their first protest camp outside the Karttula laboratory animal breeder, owned by Kuopio University. The camp ran from June until August. At the same time in another town, a small group of us met to think about ways in which we could join the fight against Kuopio�s vivisectors and support the campers.

The thought of liberating animals from a laboratory or from a breeder was very inspiring. We knew, however, that getting dogs out of Karttula would be very difficult, because the site had increased security due to the camp and previous raids. In addition, none of us were very experienced in direct action, and we thought that an easier target might be more suitable for us.

One of us knew that in addition to the University laboratories, the National Public Health Institute (NPHI) also had animals in Kuopio. An anonymous source told us that behind the NPHI buildings where the lab was located, there was a door that could easily be opened with a crowbar.

Counting on this intelligence and information, we decided to see if we could liberate rats from the NPHI laboratory. Two of us took care of the preparations by getting us a car and a crowbar and finding two different, trustworthy persons who could temporarily take care of the rats until they were taken to permanent homes. We also knew of a fair number of possible permanent homes. The other participants had the easy job of appearing in the meeting place equipped with an extra pair of shoes and disposable gloves.

The first problem came when we met, when the more experienced thief in the group asked why we hadn�t brought two crowbars. Apparently breaking open a door is much easier using two crowbars than one. Also, nobody had thought about bringing flashlights. It was too late to purchase any more items, so we decided to try to get by with what we had. (Naturally, we agreed that next time, we�d do the planning and preparations together as much as possible.)

In the early hours of the light summer night, we drove to the vicinity of the NPHI and searched for a suitable place to park. This part we should have done earlier, noted a sharp-tongued member of our group, because now we could raise unwanted attention by driving back and forth. So we parked in the first place where we could hide the car a little.

We had agreed that one of us would stand guard outside and alarm the others should somebody come to the scene. The guard stayed in a place deemed appropriate and waited while the others sought to open the door behind the lab with a crowbar. Contrary to the information we�d been given, the door was not very poorly constructed at all. After a few minutes, it became clear that the door wasn�t about to open, even if we had ten crowbars. Noone needed to even say that we should have checked the place beforehand.

We didn�t let this setback discourage us, though. Up on the wall there was a window, through which we could see empty cages. We concluded that behind that window there could be laboratory rooms. Cleverly we piled up some chairs we found around under the window to reach up to break the window and climb through.

The tallest member of the group got on top of the pile and was just about to hit the window with the crowbar, when our guard alarmed us about an approaching security company vehicle. Quickly we removed the chairs, and as everybody ran in different directions to the nearby forest, we realized that we should have agreed on an escape route. Those of us who stayed close saw the security guard get out of the car, get back in and drive off. However, some of the members of our group had disappeared, and we did not find them by our car either.

After half an hour of wandering and with a lot of luck, our group succeeded in reuniting. We decided that the security guard was not there because of us, and we didn�t have to cancel the operation because of that. So we got back behind the NPHI.

Quickly, we piled up the chairs under the window, and the same tall member of the group climbed on top of them with the crowbar. There was a charged feeling of excitement and anticipation in the air as he took the crowbar behind his shoulder, covered his eyes with his arm and hit the window with a swing of the crowbar.

A loud bang echoed around the backyards of nearby buildings. The others had also covered their eyes to protect them from flying glass. When we opened our eyes, we were shocked: There was not even the slightest mark on the window-- not even a tiny shatter.

At this point, there�s probably no need to tell the reader that the option of giving up didn�t cross anybody�s mind. The activist standing on the chair pile hit the window again, much harder, but again with no results. The second bang was certainly louder, and we were afraid that it might raise the attention of possible passersby or people in the buildings.

So the comrade with the crowbar gathered all his strength for the third blow and hit the window as hard as he could. The activists waiting by the forest cheered silently as the window broke with a deafening noise. The activist on the chairs started to tear apart the glass with the crowbar to make a hole big enough to climb in through, but he soon noted that there was another layer of glass behind the broken one-- a double window of course.

We quickly found out that the second layer was as hard as the first one, and breaking it also took three loud bangs. When we found a third layer behind the second one, we knew how much strength we needed to break it, and after a silent, disbelieving curse we managed to break it without unnecessary bangings.

It was rather difficult to make a big hole in a triple window, and trying to avoid getting wounded, our brave activist crept through the small, sharp-edged hole. Inside the empty room, there was enough light for him to find the door, behind which the others were waiting, and he succeeded without blunder to let them in.

After a quick search we found a room, where it was evident that rats were being bred. The rats were in small, metal cages with a barred lid. We took almost as many cages as we could (we hadn�t really made a good plan), so each of us only took one cage. There was a kind of common understanding, though, that we would take as many cages as we could carry and make a quick retreat.

Carrying the cages, we headed for the door to get our guard to also carry some cages. The first activist who got out the door ran across the corner, where the guard was waiting. Due to a misunderstanding and communication problems, the others followed, and when the guard and the activist got back to the door, we noticed that the door had shut and was locked.

All of us were standing outside with the rats. At this point no one was willing to creep in through the death hole in the window, so, a little bit disappointed, we ran towards the car. At the car, we were lucky to have all the activists and rats safely together (one of the cages was missing a lid that had dropped, though), and we headed for the long journey towards the temporary homes of the rats.

Certainly we knew that for us the job had only begun, and the rats had to be taken to their permanent homes before we were done. For the rats, something else had begun-- a new life without a fear of being sliced up alive.

Afterwards, we heard that after our raid the police went to the camp to look for the rats and arrested every single person there. No rats were surprisingly found there. If someone who was arrested at the camp reads this, we want to apologize. We didn�t mean to cause trouble; we really overestimated the intelligence of the police.

I don�t think we have to explain the moral of this story to activists. You know the drill-- anyone can undertake raids; they are not just for professionals. But please now know that you must do at least a little bit of planning beforehand.

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