Vivisection Challenged at
Clock Tower Civil Disobedience
by Josh Trenter
BERKELEY, CA -- It was an ordinary Tuesday morning at UC Berkeley. As
students made their way to classes and tourists milled about, a group of five
people entered the elevator that would take them to the top of the Campanile, a
300 foot clock tower located in the heart of the Berkeley campus. As the
elevator doors closed behind them, activists entered the observation deck and
ushered tourists and students to lower levels. Doors were closed and activists
immediately assembled door blockades made out of wedges and large diameter PVC
piping. Simultaneously, other activists inside the tower were at work dropping a
single black rope out of a window to a lone climber waiting below.
As the rope hit the ground, the climber immediately began his ascent of the
clock tower bringing with him a large duffel bag that held a portion of his
supplies, the rest of which would be handed out a window to him when he reached
the top. As the climber stopped to rest, police arrived on the scene. With the
activist ascending the rope safely out of reach, and the observation deck
securely barricaded, there was little they could do but watch in silence as the
climber stopped below a window 200 feet up to erect a hanging platform that
would be his home for the next 8 days, and drop a 60 foot long banner reading
"END VIVISECTION - ANIMAL LIBERATION".
With a horrific record of animal abuse, UC Berkeley has long been a target of
animal liberationists. While the banner drop was a commemoration of World Week
for Animals in Laboratories, it was specifically focused at the University's
plans to construct a new $15 million "Center for Neuroscience". The new animal
research facility would ensure that many more animals would be brought to
Berkeley to be used in invasive neurological research, as well as many more
vivisectors being put on Berkeley's payroll, including notorious NYU vivisectors
Lynne Kiorpes and Anthony Movshon.
It was late in the day when police were finally successful in evicting the
five activists who had seized control of the Campanile. They had held the
observation deck as long as they could and had succeeded in putting the climber,
fully supplied, on the outside of the clock tower where he would remain for the
next 8 days. Over the course of the week, the protest received an incredible
amount of attention, both in the media and on campus, where groups of onlookers
would stop to look up at the banner, and talk to activists on the ground about
the reasons behind the action.
The climber held out as long as possible, but on the eighth day of his vigil he was forced to come down after being without water for over a day. As he descended the rope, hundreds gathered at the base of the Campanile to look on. Stopping 25 feet from the ground, he addressed the media, students and other onlookers, asking them to help put an end to animal research at UC Berkeley. He then finished his descent and was arrested by campus police. All of the activists were charged with trespassing, and released on their own recognizance. Although the banner hang was incredibly successful in bringing attention to UC Berkeley's attempts to expand animal research, the fight is far from over and activists will continue in their efforts to expose the fraud known as vivisection, and to see to it that all living beings are given the opportunity to live out their lives in freedom and with dignity.