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Memo: Researchers told to prepare for ALF break-in by making animals "presentable"
University faces scandal over "eco-terrorism alert" memo obtained by newspaper.
Washington University claims incriminating memo obtained by newspaper is a "hoax".
On Wednesday morning, the Riverfront Times in St Louis posted excerpts from a memo purportedly distributed to faculty at Washington University's medical school. The memo warned staff to "be on high alert for potential terrorist activity" during the time of this weekend's "Free The Animals Conference" in St Louis.
The memo is incredibly incriminating, not just for its "eco-terrorism" scare-mongering, but even more so because of the following excerpt which advises researchers on taking steps to prevent intruders from obtaining footage of animals:
This is among the more incriminating quotes I can ever remember coming out of a lab.
But here's one curveball: Washington University is saying they didn't write it.
Hoax, or damage control?
About 12 hours after the original post on the Riverfront Times website, a revised version of the article was posted with this headline: "Wash. U. Med School Says Memo Warning of "Eco-Terrorism" is a Hoax".
Of course they did.
View the before and after shots of the altered article:
The basis for the hoax claim is a single quote from a Washington University spokesperson:
So what's the truth?
Without a copy of the actual memo (the Riverfront Times only included an illegible, thumbnail-sized photo), knowing the source (the paper didn't identify theirs), or corroborating testimony from another recipient of the memo, getting to the truth might be impossible.
Was is very simple is seeing the obvious: When caught tacitly admitting their labs are a horror show that must be made "presentable", the university had every incentive to lie.
The focus of the memo is to warn faculty and students of possible "break-ins, arson and animal kidnappings" (seriously) during the weekend of the Free the Animals Conference. And it does so in the most naive and excitable way possible.
We only have a few quotes (the photo indicates the memo is much longer), but here are excerpts we have:
Animal Liberation Front = amazing media
This is yet another example of hype over the Animal Liberation Front translating into some fantastic media for the animals.
First, to the extent that you believe the memo is authentic, vivisectors have been exposed talking candidly about how horrific and bloody their work is - and how much of a public relations disaster it would be if anyone caught a glimpse of the animals locked behind laboratory doors. This is big.
Second, the first article was immediately succeeded with a follow up article entirely on the campaign against Wash U and this Monday's protest there. The controversy forced attention on the campaign against Wash U, and the work of local group St Louis Vegans.
On a bigger level, it forced a spotlight on the fact that a local university is killing thousands of mice, rats, primates, cats, dogs, rabbits, and other animals in its labs. This is a fact the university would prefer the public would not think about.
Side editorial: It is tremendously disappointing that no national group has seized on the hugely incriminating and embarrassing quote instructing researchers to "make your animals 'presentable'". A quote of this caliber has the potential to be a national scandal, but it will take either a brave reporter or the muscle of a national group. And neither have stepped up to make this happen.
The humble conference that stimulated so much fear
The hype centers around the Free the Animals Conference, organized by St Louis Vegans and Stop Animal Exploitation Now (SAEN), two very effective - and very non-militant - animal rights groups. Why the hysteria?
In all likelyhood, "eco-terrorism alerts" like this are probably just a combination of willful ignorance and bored police just wanting to look tough. Do they think conference speakers and attendees will storm their labs dressed as couriers and "kidnap" their animals? Maybe. Does it make them look like real tough soldiers in the "war on terrorism" and vigilant guardians of lifesaving animal researchers? Definitely.
Until they get caught admitting they are protecting a house of horrors. Then they cower and deny, deny, deny.
Register for the Free The Animals Conference this weekend.