How do you select a target?
How do you find out what kind of experiments (and on what kind of animals) are going on inside the lab
What kind of preparation (reconnaissance) do you need to do before the action?
How do you get into a lab?
What arrangements need to be made for the care of animals following the raid (short term and long term - vet care, safehouses, homes, and transportation)?
How can one ensure they do maximum damage when destroying equipment?
What kind of security measures need to be taken with regards to slogans and video, etc.?
Q: Why do laboratory liberations?
A: Laboratory liberations are essential in the war against vivisection.
Education and economic sabotage save animals' lives in the long run, but liberating animals from laboratories or other places of abuse is the only way to save animals' lives now. Laboratory liberations are among the most complex and risky actions an activist may undertake. For these reasons, planning and preparation are the most important steps in this type of action.
Q: How do you select a target?
A: There are a number of different criteria that a cell may use in selecting one target over another for a liberation or other action. The type of experiments going on, known security weaknesses, or homes arranged for a certain type of animal are all criteria that may influence an activist's decision. Because local law enforcement will always look into the local activist networks first when investigating a liberation it is a good idea to pick labs that are not in the same area where you live (especially if you're known in the community as an animal rights activist), or even in the same state or province.
Q: How do you find out what kind of experiments (and on what kind of animals) are going on inside the lab?
A: Research avenues are going to be different depending on what type of institution you are targeting. Some general rules for information searches do apply, though you will have to do some of your own research that is specific to your area and target.
Vivisectors themselves publish amazing amounts of information. Some places that you might go to find some of their information include: university libraries, published research sources such as scientific and medical journals, the world wide web, medical school catalogs, CRISP abstracts, annual reports, USDA inspection reports, Medline, APHIS databases, ICAR databases and media reports.
Another avenue for finding out information on government institutions, including universities, is through Freedom of Information requests. Legislation on the right to access information varies from state to state and province to province so you will have to find out what information you have the "right" to in your area. An important note: if you are going to use this information to plan a liberation, do not place the request in your own name or to your own address. Records of information requests are kept, and could be used to trace you to the action. Also be advised that F.O.I.A. requests can take several months to be processed.
A couple of good online resources for learning more about vivisection are:
IDA's INVESTIGATING ANIMAL RESEARCH - A brief guide
API's Useful Tools for Investigating Animal Experimentation
Q: What kind of preparation (reconnaissance) do you need to do before the action?
A: Because laboratory liberations are high-risk actions, the more preparation, the better.
After selecting your target, you must become as familiar with it as possible. Watch your target for many nights and days over a long period of time so that you can get a good idea of security on site: patrols and police response, staff and student activity, shift changes, other activity in the area, surrounding neighbors, and other factors. Keeping extensive written information of all of the above will help in the planning of the action.
It is preferable to have maps of the entire area, including road, topographical and aerial if possible. Maps can be obtained in university and city libraries. In addition, blueprints of the targeted building can sometimes be obtained in city or university libraries. Over the period that you do reconnaissance on the site, you should also draw your own maps including any features that you think are significant to your action including escape routes.
When drawing up a detailed action plan, leave nothing to chance. Figure out every step in the action and be certain that everyone in the cell is familiar and comfortable with the plan beforehand.
At least once before the action, your cell should go through a dry run that approximates the conditions you will face as closely as possible. This means that you should try to do the "rehearsal" on the same day of the week, at the same time that your action is planned for. This may include going right into the lab to copy documents, check types and number of animals, and to look for other features that may help or hinder the liberation.
Obviously, you should always have a contingency plan in place in case something goes wrong. It should be clear to everyone what the plan of action will be should you come into contact with security officers, police, students or staff on the scene. Know which way you will escape, if you will act as a group or alone, and where you will meet afterwards.
Some good online resources for planning your action include:
MapQuest allows you to look up and print maps of the area that your target exists in.
TerraServer has arial and sa images for most of the USA and some other areas.
Q: How do you get into a lab?
A: Obviously, there are many ways to enter a building, and which method you choose will depend upon the security of the building that you have targeted. Forcing doors, cutting through doors, picking and drilling locks, forcing or breaking windows, and accessing ventilation systems are all means by which you may enter the building. Roofs, and interior or exterior walls may also be cut or drilled through for entry.
Q: What arrangements need to be made for the care of animals following the raid (short term and long term - vet care, safehouses, homes, and transportation)?
A: The most important part of a liberation is finding loving homes for the animals. Aside from the actual entry group, another set of people may be required for this task. NEVER liberate an animal that you have not found a good home for. Liberated animals should be placed in homes of people not associated with your group, and possibly not even associated with the movement at all. Once animals are taken, police will be looking for them, so they have to be placed somewhere police will not look, preferably well away from the area where the laboratory is located.
After being liberated, an animal should be completely checked over by a trusted veterinarian or other experienced animal caregiver. Special homes may be needed for some animals considering you may be liberating animals not normally kept as pets, or with special conditions inflicted upon them by the abusers. The majority of large lab animals are tattooed, may have implants, have organs or other body parts removed, or may be very ill and/or contagious.
As was said, liberations are often highly complex, requiring a number of people and a huge amount of planning. You will need people responsible for finding homes for animals, researching and planning the raid, lookouts, breaking in, carriers - people to get the animals out, and drivers, as well as someone to coordinate the whole thing.
Q: How can one ensure they do maximum damage when destroying equipment?
A: Maximum damage to equipment and laboratory facilities can be done by a variety of means including use of paint, brute force, acid, water and/or fire. Your choice of method will depend on the facility itself, how much noise you will be able to make without being heard, whether there are animals being left behind, whether other humans in the building could be put at risk, and your own judgment of the situation.
Slogans may be spray painted on walls and other surfaces. Buckets of paint can be emptied anywhere inside the lab.
Brute force may include damage done using just the physical body as well as tools such as bolt cutters, hammers, crowbars, drills and other implements of destruction. Not all equipment is of high value - in order to choose your targets for maximum financial loss, familiarize yourself with equipment costs through vivisection industry magazines like Lab Animal and laboratory supply company catalogs.
Lots of easy damage can be done using water and water sources in the building. Running water while stopping up sinks, toilets and other drainage areas is a quick way to do extensive water damage to a building. In larger buildings, it is best to do this on the top floor so that damage is done to all floors below.
A lot of financial damage can be done quickly to equipment and paper files with the use of strong acid. Any strength of sulphuric acid will work (battery acid is weak sulphuric acid), muriatic acid will also work in a pinch.
Fire can also be an effective tool in destroying facilities. Your choice to use this tactic will depend on many things including the presence of animal and human life in the building, adjoining facilities that may be put at risk, environmental danger due to fire, and the comfort level of all cell members in setting the fire.
Q: What kind of security measures need to be taken with regards to slogans and video, etc.?
A: Obviously, you don't want to "personalize" your action by leaving behind clues that could help investigators. When planning what to wear to an action, make sure that your clothes can be disposed of (including your shoes), and that hair and hands are covered throughout the action. You do not want to leave fingerprints or DNA in the form of hair strands or other organic matter at the scene of the liberation. When painting slogans, make sure that they are done in straight, block letters and that paint purchases cannot be traced back to you.
Make sure that as much of your body as possible is covered, especially the face and hand area in case of video surveillance. Wear a balaclava and gloves and make sure that all distinguishing marks such as tattoos are not exposed in any way. Be aware that video footage may reveal height, weight, sex and body shape.
For further security and other tips, see NC #13's Focus Section on Direct Action, p. 13.