In the East Bay, a new campaign has been formed to combat animal testing. This campaign is focused on the University of California at Berkeley and the researchers that make their livings inflicting pain on non-human animals. This has been the first time in nearly a decade that there has been an active anti-vivisection campaign in Berkeley. Most recent animal rights activism in the Bay Area has been focused around indirect and reform-based campaigns.
According to the University Relations Office, over 40,000 animals are housed on the UC Berkeley campus. Forty percent are various cold-blooded animals, fifty percent are mice and nine percent are other rodents. The remaining one percent is comprised of non-human primates, cats, hyenas (who are in the only captive breeding colony in the world, located in the hills above campus), rabbits, and invertebrates. Some of the violence these animals endure includes fluid deprivation, head restraints, and electrodes inserted into their brains. The University plans to extend the existing Northwest Animal Faculty by seventy percent with the construction of the Li-Ka Shing Center for Biomedical and Health Sciences, which is currently under construction and taking the place of just-demolished Warren Hall. This facility is a sign that UC Berkeley is not only continuing animal testing but planning to expand.
This campaign is making use of the tactic of home demonstrations that has become popular in recent years, in which a group of activists demonstrate at the homes of vivisectors and those complicit in vivisection. These days of demonstrations have been occurring frequently.
One protest organized recently was in opposition to the tenth anniversary of the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute at the Berkeley City Club Ballroom, which took place on September 17, 2007. Protesters stood outside with signs and megaphones calling on the city of Berkeley not to sponsor such events and for the university to stop this needless testing. One of the vivisectors harassed protesters and shoved his camera into their faces. Federal agents taking pictures also attended this event, showing how important these animal research dollars are.
October 21, 2007, 18 activists were cited and 4 arrested at a home demonstration in El Cerrito. UCPD Detective Jason Collom trailed protesters in an unmarked car and ordered around local police during the citations. These activists were all charged with disturbing the peace. Det. Collom has made it clear that he wants to kill this campaign and will use any amount of intimidation and repression that he can get away with. Unfortunately for him, the court date never even happened — since the UC police had no jurisdiction in El Cerrito — and all of the citations were thrown out.
Saturday, January 5 was another afternoon of demonstrations in opposition to UC Berkeley vivisection. The day of action was preceded by a smear article written by Matt Krupnick in that morning’s Oakland Tribune full of fear mongering that implied that there was a connection between local protests and the current UCLA campaign that has used firebombing of cars and vandalism of property to save animals. It is important to mention that nothing of that sort has gone on with this campaign.
The article mentioned that UC Police had warned the vivisectors of the day of action and that the animal facility was locked down for the day. The afternoon started off with a UCPD officer sitting ten feet away from the rendezvous point. As the protestors left the location for the mobile demonstrations, the officer did three dangerous U-turns in an unmarked Prius to follow the protesters. Activists were able to lose the trailing officer on the freeway. The day of action went fairly well, and without any further police contact or presence. Fifteen activists gathered in the cold and rain to again send the message that those who cause suffering to sentient beings for grant money and career status will no longer be able to enjoy silence and relative calm in their homes — mostly hillside mansions — while the animals they torture are locked in cages.
Since this campaign began, a main researcher of the Hyena project mentioned above has announced his retirement. He has given 10 hyenas to zoos and sanctuaries, while the remaining hyenas have received emergency funding from the national science foundation for 15 more months. Organizers see these demonstrations being a catalyst for change on the UC Berkeley campus, an opportunity for these researchers to come of age and leave behind archaic research methods.
The UC system is a for-profit institution with millions of dollars tied up in animal research. These protests are done in solidarity with the current tree-sit at UC Santa Cruz. The tree-sit seeks, in part, to stop the building of another animal research facility.
Activists also are mindful of the intense actions that are being carried out at UCLA. They feel that every student and neighbor of the UC system can help to create a hostile environment for vivisection and its practitioners.
The animal rights activists involved vow to continue with this campaign, with the demand that the university phase out all animal models of research. More reliable alternatives, like computer modeling and clinical research, exist. Most of all the organizers need more like minded folks to come out to demos. The only way to stop this silly and brutal research is to do something about it, vegan potlucks are not going to free animals from the UC Berkeley Labs. To get involved in this campaign and to be added to the e-mail list, get in touch with them at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
To educate yourself about the amount of animals used in different vivisection facilities around the State of California, go to: