Several companies have been given a deadline of one week, concluding on February 20th, to withdraw their financial and comprehensive support for Oxford University or otherwise risk suffering action taken by the members of the Animal Liberation Front (ALF). The ALF, as an American animal rights group, has apparently taken the names of companies affiliated with the University that are listed on the SPEAK website (published by a UK animal rights group). The ALF has threatened action against all individuals who do not renounce their relationship with the University immediately. The row has sprung up over the construction of a new animal testing facility at the Oxford site, a building that raises ethical issues concerning animal welfare.
Anxious construction workers hired to work on the new facility have gone to great lengths to ensure that they are incognito during work hours to avoid the wrath of the radical protestors. Bite Back Magazine, official newsletter for ALF members, paints a picture of just how real these threats might be. Equipped with easily identifiable icons labelled Pictures, Sabotage, Vandalism, Video, Arson, Liberation and Prisoner, the magazine sums up the actions of its devoted members against alleged perpetrators of animal cruelty in a page called News from the Frontlines. ALF members admit jovially to committing crimes against people only remotely linked to the individuals participating in animal-related trades. They make clear and vicious threats to all they deem responsible for animal cruelty.
Students at the University are aware of the issue and may have cause for concern after a post on the ALF website said, “We must target professors, teachers, heads, students, investors, partners, supporters and ANYONE that dares to deal in any part of the university in any way : anything goes.” Investigators believe that, of all ALF members whose objective is to “to abolish institutionalised animal exploitation because it assumes that animals are property” (ALF Mission Statement as published on the website), there are an estimated twenty radical protesters resorting to violence and destruction of property. The companies still affiliated with Oxford University by the end of the deadline are faced with threats to have “offices trashed and the homes of their directors and/or trustees attacked” ( Guardian article February 20 2006 ).
100 companies connected to the University have been given the ultimatum by ALF, who says that “we will never let them [Oxford University] win!” ( Guardian article February 20 2006 ). The University has made no move to stop construction of the animal-testing facility.