By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
THE HOME OF DR. ARTHUR ROSENBAUM isn’t hard to find. He lives a few blocks south of Sunset Boulevard, near the UCLA campus, in a white two-story house with a front yard jammed with aspen trees. There is a short driveway on the side of the home, and during the evening, a bright, white light illuminates the carport. If someone wants to sabotage the doctor’s car under the cover of night, a flashlight isn’t needed.
On Sunday, June 24, just that kind of person struck. Rosenbaum, a highly regarded pediatric ophthalmologist who had been regularly harassed by animal-rights activists for his research work with cats and rhesus monkeys at the Jules Stein Eye Institute at UCLA, noticed a device underneath his luxury sedan. The bomb squad was dispatched to the scene and hauled away a makeshift — but deadly — explosive. A faulty fuse was the only reason it didn’t go off.
“He and his wife ..., living at ... in la, are the target of rebellion for the vile and evil things he does to primates at UCLA. We have seen by our own eyes the torture on fully concious primates in his lab. We have heard their whimpers and screeches of pain. Seeing this drove one of us to rush out and vomit. We have seen hell and its in Rosenbaums lab.
“Rosenbaum, you need to watch your back because next time you are in the operating room or walking to your office you just might be facing injections into your eyes like the primates, you sick twisted fuck.
“Demonstrators need to realize that just demonstrating won’t stop this kind of evil. Look up Arthur Rosenbaum to find out about his experiment from two thousand four threw two thousand seven. ‘animal liberation brigade’?”
Rosenbaum wouldn’t comment. In an e-mail, he wrote, “I have been asked by law enforcement to not discuss any events surrounding the incident at this time. I look forward to doing so in the future.” According to a Bel-Air Patrol guard, though, the doctor’s neighbors are “jumpy.”
For several years now, Rosenbaum and other faculty members at UCLA Medical Center have been targeted by animal-rights activists outraged by their experiments on primates. The researchers have endured crank phone calls, menacing e-mails and intimidating threats screamed over bullhorns in the middle of the night in front of their homes.
But with the attempted bombing of Rosenbaum, and the attempted Molotov cocktail bombing last year of UCLA researcher Lynn Fairbanks in Bel-Air, activists are no longer content with talking a mean game — they now want blood.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, which closely watches extremist groups of all kinds throughout the world, Los Angeles has become the capital of a more aggressive brand of animal-rights extremism in the United States — with UCLA as ground zero. “Los Angeles, for now, is the epicenter of this movement,” says Oren Segal, co-director of ADL’s Center on Extremism in New York City. “We’ve seen a lot of humans targeted overseas, and now it’s happening here.”
In the past, Segal notes, ragtag groups in the U.S. calling themselves such names as the Animal Liberation Front and the mostly fabled Earth Liberation Front freed animals from university research labs and firebombed empty buildings. The Animal Liberation Front, in fact, claimed to only target inanimate objects for its violent actions. But now, underground groups — perhaps just one or two enraged people, or perhaps organized networks — have no problem making bombs for killing or maiming their human marks. One of those is the Animal Liberation Front, which took responsibility for last year’s attempted Fairbanks bombing. “They have been very violent over the years,” says Segal, “so going after humans has been inevitable.”
Segal surmises that these groups are made up of “lone wolves” who are seeking publicity for the larger animal-rights movement. Segal says the names are interchangeable, so whether it’s people claiming to be ALF, ELF or the Animal Liberation Brigade while taking responsibility for a bombing, it doesn’t matter. “They’re going to rename themselves depending on what actions they’re doing,” he says. “Everything is interconnected and jumbled.”
The prominent mouthpiece for this new extremism, according to Segal, just happens to live in Los Angeles. His name is Jerry Vlasak, a 49-year-old trauma surgeon and resident of Agoura Hills in the West Valley.
ON AN 85-DEGREE DAY, Vlasak wears all black — black long-sleeve dress shirt, black jeans, black Crocs and black socks. He pulls into Astro Family Restaurant in Silver Lake in a black 318i BMW. Vlasak, a tall and lanky man with short salt-and-pepper hair and a faded goatee, settles into a booth and begins speaking excitedly, and somewhat loudly, about his obsession.