When Does Activism Become Terrorism?

Should a second-year law student know better than to get mixed up with domestic terrorists, get arrested and then risk violating the terms of his bail — especially since dad is a prominent federal lawyer?

Though the term "duh" springs to mind, "just do it" seems to have been the thinking of University at Buffalo Law School student — and animal rights extremist — Bryan Pease.

His inability to resolve this simple problem begs the question of how well Pease and his compatriots have thought through their activities.

Our tale begins last Dec. 5, when members of the Animal Liberation Front classified by the FBI as a domestic terrorist group burglarized the North Rose, N.Y., facility of Marshall Farms USA Inc., stealing 30 beagles and 10 ferrets.

Marshall Farms is one of the largest breeders of animals used in life-saving medical research conducted at pharmaceutical company, university and government laboratories.

Though no arrests were made, ALF claimed credit for the attack and threatened more.

On Feb. 21, Pease was arrested at 1:15 a.m. while dressed in full camouflage for trespassing on Marshall Farms' property by a K-9 unit of the Wayne County Sheriff's Department.

Pease was interrogated by the New York State Police Counter Terrorism Intelligence and released on bail again.

Pease had been arrested previously in Conway, Ark., the month before, on Jan. 14, and charged with commercial burglary, third-degree battery enhanced by violent criminal group activity, criminal mischief, resisting arrest, and fleeing.

Police say Pease and other animal rights thugs stormed the offices of Stephens Inc., an Arkansas investment firm, through the back door and began kicking employees and destroying property.

Stephens apparently earned the wrath of Pease and gang by helping rescue from bankruptcy Huntingdon Life Sciences, a British medical testing company that uses animals.

Law student Pease may soon get more first-hand experience with the legal process. The Conway prosecutors' office says it will investigate and commence proceedings to revoke Pease's bail.

Neither Pease's father, the chief civil attorney in the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of New York, nor University at Buffalo Law School Dean R. Nils Olsen Jr. would comment.

Dean Olsen didn't even know that one of his budding lawyers seemed to be a serial criminal.

Not everyone is as tongue-tied as Pease's elders.

A spokesperson for the 63-year-old, family-owned Marshall Farms pointed out the value of medical testing that involves its specially bred dogs.

Many cardiac procedures and devices, including by-pass surgery, angioplasty, pacemakers, and replacement valves and arteries, were developed through testing on dogs. Cardiac surgeons train using dogs. Research identifying insulin as the key hormone for sustaining diabetics was conducted with dogs.

All drugs, including veterinary drugs, and many other consumer products must be tested on non-rodent animals — typically dogs, pigs or monkeys — before use. Safe levels of exposure to pesticides for farm workers and in food are established through dog testing.

Marshall Farms is in good standing with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which establishes and enforces rules for the proper care of animals raised for lab research.

It's too bad the same can't be said of ALF's care of the animals stolen from Marshall Farms.

One of the dogs "liberated" was later found abandoned in West Palm Beach, Fla., thin and hungry raising questions about the claims that ALF never injures animals and that the animals stolen from Marshall Farms will never have to endure "brutal conditions."

ALF, whose members are anonymous to shield them from prosecution, says it's non-violent. But Pease, an ALF sympathizer at least, was charged in Arkansas with violent crimes.

While a student at Cornell University, Pease promoted a speech by an Animal Defense League member on the "historical uses of violence in liberation movements." Pease advocated the wearing of ski masks at a protest to show of solidarity with ALF and supported Mumia Abu-Jamal, the political activist who murdered a Philadelphia policeman.

Pease has jeopardized his own legal career even before it begins and embarrassed his prominent attorney-father and law school. But this pales in comparison to the violent criminal he seems to be growing into and the threat that ALF represents to progress in medical research.

Perhaps that's something young Pease might contemplate in the prison cell he may soon occupy.

Steven Milloy is the publisher of JunkScience.com , an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute and the author of Junk Science Judo: Self-defense Against Health Scares and Scams (Cato Institute, 2001).

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