Say you looked out your living-room window on a sunny Sunday and saw your name chalked in bright colors on the sidewalk, along with arrows pointing to your house and such denunciations as "TORTURER." "KILLER." "MURDERER." Are you a parolee? No, you're a UC Berkeley professor who uses live cats in vision experiments, and for the second time this year your Northside house — as Apprehension discovered by chance on a February 17 stroll, camera in hand — has been targeted by animal-rights activists. Having planned secretly via hushmail.com the "home demo," as these confabs are called, they scrawled those epithets in six-inch-high letters along with "CAT KILLER," "KITTY KILLER," "YOU CAN'T HIDE," an X-eyed dead cartoon cat with the words "Don't kill me," and "YOUR NEIGHBOR" — the professor's name went here — "TORTURES CATS — WATCH OUT FOR YOUR PETS." They also scattered fliers printed with the professor's name, home address, home phone, photograph, and an explanation that this "vivsector" teaches in the "optamology" department.
The activists' anger is serious stuff. "The expressions on every single one of them makes me want to slap them," one posts at an Animal Liberation Front forum displaying Cal researchers' names, photos, and personal data. "You can see the evil in their eyes." Another muses: "Always good to put a face to the name ... I hope some angry people with spray paint and bricks pay them a visit." Another adds: "I can think of better things to do that would be way more gratifying and permanent. When I look at their geeky pictures, I just want to crawl through the computer screen and kick the shit out of them." This user also mocks one researcher's hair.
According to the Los Angeles Times, UCLA sought a temporary restraining order on February 21 against animal-rights groups accused of harassing its researchers. Those groups include ALF, the Animal Liberation Brigade, and the UCLA Primate Freedom Project, which is unaffiliated with the university and whose web site provides personal details for researchers, calling them "targets," according to the Times.
A police report was filed for the Northside demo, charging "damage to planters," as was another the same day at a South Berkeley house citing animal-rights protesters for "smashed pots and birdbath."
The vandals took the handles
Rambling in the Berkeley hills that day, Apprehension was shocked to see many of the steel handrails lining Lower Glendale Path torn violently from their moorings and strewn over the ground. Installed last year by hardworking Eagle Scouts, the rails had added safety to a sweet but steep passage through the pines. Beer bottles and 52 cigarette butts, which Apprehension collected and counted, failed to explain fully the motives for wanton destruction.
It was a busy day, actually
Tracing towering smoke-plumes to their North Berkeley source that same afternoon, Apprehension found crews from several fire trucks drenching a two-alarm inferno that had just made a charred husk of the house at 2050 Lincoln Street. Locals stood gazing in transfixed silence. Unoccupied for years, flanking Shattuck Avenue shops, the once-charming wood frame cottage was ignited, according to the Berkeley Fire Department, "by three juveniles playing in the vacant building and lighting candles." The puny pyros were detained by police, many of whom were on the scene. The wanton destruction continues.
What is it with youthful trios and poop?
The fecal freak show moves to Piedmont where, according to the February 4 police log, a "caller reported three youths lighting dog poop on fire."
Get canker sores, get arrested
At Berkeley's Solano Avenue Andronico's supermarket on February 17, a woman was arrested for shoplifting Orajel, according to police reports.
Aggression in Antioch
On February 25 at 6:31 a.m., according to police logs, "a crying, hysterical female" reported "that a male was assaulting her." Four hours later, someone reported that "a nephew was making threatening phone calls saying he has thirty rounds of ammunition." Three hours later, cops tended "a bloody male down on the ground from a beating with a bottle." The next day, "ten individuals tried to jump a female" and two daughters exchanged fisticuffs with their mother. On February 28, Antioch cops dealt with "a student making and selling weapons made by taking the lead out of a mechanical pencil and replacing it with a needle."
Pistol-whipping: now near you
As described on a neighborhood-watch site, two men attacked a couple on Haddon Road near Lake Merritt on February 15, "right after they parked in their driveway." The perps "scuffled with the husband, throwing him to the ground, with the gun pointed at his head. The wife screamed, and they pistol-whipped her across the temple, leaving a nasty gash. The assailants finally ran off with a money clip and a cell phone to a waiting white sedan farther down the street." The victims later "realized that they had seen these same guys cruising Haddon a few days before. Driving really slow, mid-morning, in a white sedan ... looking at each house as they went by. They even stopped at a house on the corner to help themselves to as many lemons as they could carry from a neighbor's tree." And it's not even iced-tea season yet.
Seven Days - February 24, 5:52 PM
Seven Days - February 21, 3:30 PM
Seven Days - February 18, 5:00 PM
Seven Days - February 17, 4:09 PM
Seven Days - February 16, 3:24 PM