When animal-rights hoodlums vandalized two McDonald’s restaurants in the Los Angeles area last month, neither the Associated Press nor the Los Angeles Times was able to find anyone from the shadowy Animal Liberation Front (ALF) to comment on its crimes. No surprise there. ALF’s last official "spokesman," a Canadian named David Barbarash, decided to step down last year — presumably to devote more time to selling bomb-making manuals over the Internet. Stepping in to fill the void this week are long-time Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) spokesman Jerry Vlasak and University of Texas El Paso philosophy professor Steven Best.
Other previous public press agents for the FBI-designated "domestic terrorist" ALF have included People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the adopt-a-turkey zealots at Farm Sanctuary. As these groups demonstrated, speaking on behalf of the ALF requires one to communicate detailed knowledge of violent crimes while claiming, straight-faced, to have no clue who the perpetrators are. When challenged to identify the so-called "compassionate" activists whose tactics include arson, repeated death threats, and interstate stalking, ALF spokespersons have generally followed the Sergeant Schultz approach to media relations: "I know nothing, I see nothing!"
In this mold, Vlasak and Best announced Friday the launch of what they call the Animal Liberation Press Office (ALPO). A news release described ALPO as "an aboveground arm to represent" the "militant and secretive international groups" who set arson fires, pipe-bomb medical research companies, vandalize restaurants, and threaten the lives of countless Americans who don’t embrace animal-rights goals and lifestyles. Joining Vlasak and Best are two other hard-core activist leaders, both of them knee-deep in the violent SHAC movement. In no time at all, the four will be praising "anonymous" criminals in one breath and claiming complete ignorance about them with the next.
In the spirit of educating the public and the media, we’ll be following up during the coming days with profiles of these new "press officers" for the militant animal rights movement. Unlike them, we’re happy to share what we know about the ugly face of violent activism — whether it is cloaked at night or callously celebrated in the media.