Police cars lined a Beach Flats block in the dead of night. But while police presence is not uncommon for a nighttime gathering in Santa Cruz, they were not there to bust a party, but for a much more politically charged purpose.

These police officers were there to respond to an attempted invasion of a faculty member’s home. Earlier in the day, a group of six, faces hidden by bandanas, attempted to break in. They struck the faculty member’s husband when he confronted them at the door. Neighbors identified the car, and police traced it back to Riverside Avenue, where they found evidence possibly linking to other incidents.

This is just the latest and closest in a series of attacks targeting UC researchers who work with animal testing. Previous attacks include a firebomb sent to a UCLA researcher and several thousand dollars of property damage over a number of incidents at Berkeley and Los Angeles.

But while the natural tendency may be to place these misguided souls in the same boat as our own tree-sitters, it is important to recognize the difference.

These attackers did a very stupid thing, and very few people are defending the attack. Animal rights activists time and time again explain that they do not support attacks on humans.

These attackers are also not representative of the activists in our community. They did nothing but set their own cause significantly back, as anyone who did take them seriously now writes them off as trigger-happy radicals.

There are avenues of dialogue available, and the debate over animal rights testing has by no means reached a conclusion. For those who feel ignored: Violence does not break down barriers. It only adds more.

What is most shocking is the fact that these people originally claimed the attack was a “protest,” and they accused the police of using fear tactics to quell what was spun to be a normal demonstration. This is not the case. Terrorism — that is, using fear tactics to dissuade people from a course of action — is not an appropriate form of protest, neither for activists nor the police.

Furthermore, the insistence that this was a legal protest led many to gather at the Riverside bust and protest the police presence, leading many onlookers to complain about the police and call shenanigans through independent media site These posts were also rife with spin, similar to the style that so many accuse the administration of using.

It is immoral and hypocritical to use misinformation and propaganda to win people to a cause, and that is exactly what these people did. They complained that the police used excessive force, fear tactics and terror. Sound familiar? The police were responding to a crime, and had the right to take the precautions they found necessary.

Animal rights groups have done good acts in the past, exposing criminal animal cruelty and bringing about beneficial change. But senseless violence like this attack accomplishes nothing, and it should not be tolerated or defended. True protests and discussions can achieve stronger results without backlash, and these people could have spent their time finding a peaceful solution.