SANTA CRUZ -- The night before masked demonstrators rattled the door of a UC
Santa Cruz biomedical researcher's home in February 2008, famed animal rights
advocate Peter Young gave a speech at the Louden Nelson Community Center.
The 32-year-old Los Gatos native, who served two years in prison after being
convicted in 2005 of setting minks free from farms in the Midwest, had returned
to Santa Cruz just four months earlier.
Although Young shared the same
views as Animal Liberation Front activists, in all his raids, he said he chose
not to claim the action on behalf of the organization, mainly for strategic
reasons. He said invoking the organization's name could bring more attention
from authorities and potential targets.
In 2006, Congress passed the
Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, replacing an earlier law by making it an act of
domestic terror to harass or endanger researchers who use animals.
says the tighter restrictions on free speech have pushed activists toward more
aggressive action, like the UCSC firebombings. "Now a protest at the home of a
vivisector is illegal," Young said. "They've closed off all legal channels to
affect change. What do you expect?"