By Ben Winslow
Deseret Morning News
Animal rights activists have stepped up their campaign against scientists, now protesting outside the homes of University of Utah researchers.
Several animal researchers' homes in Holladay, Eden and Salt Lake City's Avenues were targeted for weekend demonstrations, the group Utah Primate Freedom claimed on its Web site.
"Police showed up again, but this time they just did their usual routine (writing down license plates, taking our photos, etc.) None of this stuff scares us.
Even when you said you were going to arrest us, we said fine," the group said in a statement. "We aren't going to stop."
Utah Primate Freedom promised to unveil a list of "new targets" for anti-vivisection demonstrations on its Web site on Wednesday.
The home demonstrations have been called "intimidation" by some. They have also earned the wrath of Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, who urged congressional leaders to pass legislation he is co-sponsoring aimed at eco-terrorism.
"These groups have utilized scare tactics, threats of violence, property damage and physical violence to
intimidate businesses and personnel involved in animal research and associated activities," Hatch wrote in a letter to the House Judiciary Committee.
"These eco-terrorists have also targeted businesses and people who simply do business with companies with whom the eco-terrorists object to."
Hatch referenced a recent Deseret Morning News story about animal rights protests outside the homes of Huntsman Corp.
executives, because a member of the company's board is the chief financial officer of the controversial animal research lab Huntingdon Life Sciences.
Meanwhile, Salt Lake City police are investigating a case of assault against an animal rights activist during a demonstration last week outside the Salt Palace.
"He approached me so his nose was basically touching my nose and said 'Back the (expletive) off,'" Jeremy Beckham with Utah Primate Freedom said in an e-mail to the Deseret Morning News.
Police said a 23-year-old man assaulted Beckham during a legal demonstration outside the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science's convention.
"The suspect was also hitting victim in the chest with his finger," Salt Lake City police officer Shawn Wihongi wrote in a police report obtained under the Government Records Access and Management Act.
The confrontation was photographed and videotaped. Salt Lake City police used the tape to track down the man's vehicle. He was later cited for assault.