FBI investigates Vet School break-in
Group e-mails The Reveille to claim responsibility
By Samantha Sieber, News Editor
September 25, 2003
LSUPD and the FBI are investigating a break-in at the School of Veterinarian Medicine that may be the work of an extremist animal rights group.
LSUPD Capt. Ricky Adams said someone broke into the Inhalation Toxicology Research Facility on Wednesday, damaging the lab and equipment and causing several hundred thousand dollars of damage.
Pat Edwards, Vet School director of institutional advancement, said the lab is used for research on environmental toxins, specifically cardiovascular and respiratory toxins such as cigarette smoke.
Edwards said the lab is on Vet School property and it is an auxiliary building.
Adams said a police officer is stationed in the Vet School but there is not an officer specifically assigned to the lab.
He also said there were no hazardous chemicals or animals in the lab at the time of entry.
Adams said LSUPD contacted the FBI because the Vet School receives federal grants. They are determining if any federal laws were violated.
The Reveille received an e-mail Wednesday morning from an anonymous person claiming the Animal Liberation Front destroyed the lab.
The ALF is an organization that acts directly to stop animal suffering at the members' risk of losing their own freedom, according to animalliberationfront.com.
The Web site describes direct action as any "illegal actions performed to bring about animal liberation." It says direct action is one of two things - rescuing animals from laboratories or inflicting economic damage on animal abusers.
The Web site gives detailed descriptions on how to start, plan and prepare an action.
The e-mail said the lab "subjects animals to daily dose of cigarette smoke and industrial pollutants causing pain, suffering and death." An FBI evidence response team member works the crime scene at the Inhalation Toxicology Research Facility Wednesday.
It also said "three whole-body gas chambers, a cigarette-smoking machine and other equipment used in the experiments were all destroyed. Red paint was splashed everywhere and computers were destroyed."
Adams would not deny or confirm any information in the e-mail.
The e-mail said Arthur Penn, an adjunct professor of environmental medicine, is a vivisectionist - a scientist who cuts open live animals for research.
The e-mail said "vivisection is cruel and unnecessary. The Animal Liberation Front will continue to target animal killers until the day empathy and compassion replace cruelty and exploitation."
The e-mail threatened Penn, saying "your time is up!"
Ann Berlin, webmaster for animalliberationfront.com, said what was described in the e-mail sounds like a typical attack of an AFL group action.
"The Animal Liberation Credo prohibits the harming of any sentient being [a being that has sense perception], especially humans, so every precaution must be taken to ensure nobody gets hurt," Berlin said Wednesday in an e-mail.
Berlin said ALF works in very small autonomous cells, and though some may call themselves ALF members, there is no official membership.
The FBI and LSUPD are investigating the e-mail and other evidence from the scene.