I’ve received countless letters from activists who desperately want to get involved and start local campaigns. So here’s everything you need to get started…
1- PICK A LOCAL TARGET
The National Institute of Health records all types of federally-funded animal experiments for every university vivisection program in the country. Personally, I hate this database. But it is an invaluable tool if you are just starting out and it is simple to use. All you need is the name of your local university. If you are in Manhattan, for example, maybe you want to know if they perform animal experiments at NYU.
Go to the NIH Reporter (http://projectreporter.nih.gov/reporter.cfm) and simply type in the name of a local institution… for example, ”New York University” where it prompts you to enter an “Organization.” It is the fifth line on the query form. That’s all there is to it. Then hit “submit query.” Bingo! You now have 28-pages of taxpayer-funded experiments that are currently underway at NYU.
Now is the point at which you decide what is the most strategic target. You may choose to isolate primates because there is widespread public support. You may choose dogs or cats to exploit America’s love affair with their pets. No animal has greater value than any other. However, in terms of strategic targets, it would probably be more productive to target horses than mice. Our objective is to win, not to be morally correct.
2- GET THE RECORDS THAT DOCUMENT THEIR TORTURE REGIMENS
This part could not be easier. You need to submit a public records request to your target university.
The Student Press Law Center offers a tool to generate a legally-cited open records request letter for your state. All you do is fill in the blanks (e.g., New York University and experiments on dogs) and you simply print and mail the letter. Pictures of their victims are also considered public records so make sure to request all relevant images that may be in their files: http://www.splc.org/legalassistance/foiletter.asp.
Almost every major campaign is initiated by one person, sometimes two if we’re lucky. Supporters will gravitate to us as we gain momentum. And we have an opportunity right now for hundreds of us to isolate a lab or university in our community, focus on our target obsessively to the exclusion of all else, take on the vivisectors personally, and expose the atrocities that are committed behind their granite walls of secrecy.
Imagine if every university in the country found themselves at the center of an aggressive and controversial campaign, their taxpayer-funded animal torture exposed… The time to put a face on “federally-regulated” experiments and “strict guidelines” has arrived. Propaganda is the enemy’s most potent weapon. We need to disarm them and redefine “welfare regulations” as legalized torture for the public. Nothing more, nothing less.
The university-vivisection complex appears so powerful at first glance that it is a commonly-held belief that these are “unwinnable” campaigns. This is a myth that needs to be shattered. I personally know two people who have successfully shut down experiments at two universities. I have no doubt there are countless other success stories. This is proof that universities succumb to pressure just like any other business. Universities’ major currency is their reputation and public support. They must become an embarrassment to their alumni and to the community, both of which have a negative and quantifiable effect on their profit margin.
So it’s time to learn from and build on what those who came before us have accomplished. But it’s not enough to shut down an egregious experiment here and there anymore. We need to start shutting down entire programs one by one. This is our long-term strategy.
My campaign at UF focuses on primates for strategic reasons. It is a relatively small program with roughly three dozen monkeys and there is public support behind ending primate experiments. Additionally, with an estimated 10,000 animals imprisoned in their dungeons, it would be a losing proposition to scatter limited resources rather than focus them. My advice is to choose one area: primates, dogs, cats, horses, etc. that can be effectively exploited to advance our agenda… and do your research. Then use it to destroy the enemy. They will crumble under the right kind of pressure.
We already have activists who excel at exposing violations in labs and creating public relations nightmares for countless universities. AWA violations expose negligence, criminal misconduct, institutionalized malfeasance, and shed light on the most heinous crimes committed in the name of academic freedom.
But, no matter what target we choose, it is my belief that the rest of us need to put a face on the “strict regulations” and “welfare guidelines” that vivisectors and the purveyors of death hide behind. When the public hears “humane research,” it evokes innocuous images of little white mice navigating mazes. The public could not begin to imagine the horrors this phrase encompasses in their worst nightmares. It’s our job to put a face on “humane” torture and eliminate this weapon from the enemy’s arsenal. The public needs to see what “humane” research looks like.
a- Vivisectors and everyone who profits from animal torture have forfeited their rights to privacy and peace of mind. Someone once told me that the most effective tactic they had employed, other than exposing the war criminals where they live, play and worship, was to target their loved ones. Vivisectors are extremely susceptible to applied persuasion tactics (i.e., educational outreach) when their loved ones, especially their children or grandchildren, are involved.
b- Learn everything about your vivisectors. Public records such as property appraisals, memberships in clubs, schools their children attend, organizations where a spouse may be employed can all provide a wealth of information. Know your enemy.
c- Disrupt alumni events, graduation exercises, football and sporting events — essentially any event where there will be crowds of supporters and media exposure. When talking to the press, answer their questions — no matter what they ask — with a statement about how the university tortures animals with taxpayer money. It took me a while to learn this. But the media will only use an activist’s soundbite. Make it count.
d- If you can work with a student animal rights group within the institution, this is optimal and should be one of the first avenues of support you pursue. In my case, students at UF publicly denounced me and NIO as they did not approve of some of my tactics. This has not precluded us from sharing information privately, however. We need allies within the university.
e- Once you establish your campaign, whistleblowers will come forward and provide you with information that records cannot. There is so much backstabbing in academia and so much guilt that lab workers bear, that they are looking for a way in which to purge their consciences — everyone from staff to faculty to lab techs have a story that needs to be told. The identities of these individuals should be guarded at all costs.
f- Transparency has been blotted out by the system of grants and protocols. No one understands what the numbers mean or what grants are being paid for, least of all taxpayers. For example, one UF vivisector named Mingzhou Ding applies for grants to this day in the amount of approximately $260,000 annually for alleged brain mapping experiments on monkeys for which he is the prinicpal investigator. The interesting thing, however, is that the brain-mapping experiments were conducted in New York and taxpayers are paying Ding to analyze “public information.” In simple terms, it is impossible to tell at this point how many different “researchers” are being paid for a single experiment in which they have absolutely no involvement. Taxpayers find these discrepancies most interesting… especially when all inquiries remain unanswered.
Animal Liberation will be achieved when the detriments of animal abuse outweigh the benefits.
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