Officials have been trying to keep it quiet, but 24 UC Berkeley researchers and seven staffers have been harassed by animal rights activists in recent months, in some cases having their homes or cars vandalized.
"What they all have in common is that they all work in animal research," UC Berkeley spokesman Robert Sanders said of the targeted employees.
In several instances, the activists have shown up outside researchers' homes in the middle of the night with bullhorns and chanting, "Animal killers." Sometimes they have scrawled slogans on the sidewalk in chalk.
On more than one occasion, rocks have been thrown through the researchers' windows and their cars have been scratched up.
"Sometimes (the activists) go up to the door," Sanders said, "which can be very frightening to the family."
According to UC, there have been 20 reports of damage to researchers' homes in Berkeley, Oakland and El Cerrito since August, including seven broken house windows and three vandalized cars.
Thirteen researchers have been harassed on more than one occasion, authorities said. One researcher, who studies how cat brains work for epilepsy research, has reported seven incidents at his home.
No specific group has been identified as being behind the harassment. The actions appear to be coordinated through an animal rights Web site that includes photos of researchers, descriptions and photos of their experiments, plus their home addresses and phone numbers - along with the disclaimer, "Please keep communications with the individuals legal and nonthreatening."
However, it doesn't appear that activists are always following those instructions.
The latest incident occurred the weekend of June 1 in Berkeley, when a group of activists showed up during the daytime outside the home of a researcher who studies the effects of pesticides on mice. A rock was thrown through the researcher's window and a window at a neighbor's home, Sanders said.
Even a researcher who studies bird singing has been harassed and had his house vandalized.
"To study bird songs, you need to get them into the lab," Sanders said. "You want to record them and see how they raise their young."
It's not exactly the animal torture chamber one usually associates with the most negative depictions of animal research. But "apparently, these activists don't believe in any kind of animal research," Sanders said.
"As you can imagine," he added, "some of these faculty members are pretty freaked out."
By the time the cops show up, the protesters are usually gone. As a result, there have been no arrests - only an occasional citation issued for disturbing the peace.
Officials have been trying to keep the protests quiet, in part out of concern that publicity will only cause more incidents and an escalation in violence. At UCLA, animal rights protests have included attempted firebombings and one instance in which a researcher's home was flooded with a garden hose.
Looking at the numbers, it's pretty clear that keeping things quiet in the press hasn't toned down the protesters much. It's just as clear, however, that the protesters aren't reaching their goals, either.
"All of our researchers are adamant that their research is critical and that they are not going to quit," Sanders said.
Ballpark hangover: A sewage backup at AT&T Park during a six-hour concert Sunday featuring country-western star Kenny Chesney left many of the 35,000-plus in attendance in a real jam.
The first sign of trouble came early in the evening when ballpark crews discovered that a gated entry area off Third Street had flooded. So stadium engineers turned down the water pressure throughout the ballpark.
In the process, however, running water was lost in many of the stadium's 54 restrooms. The result wasn't pretty.
"'I felt like I was attending a massive Chico State frat party reunion," said San Francisco resident David Wilson, whose family bailed early because of the drunken concertgoers and clogged toilets.
"I saw several maintenance personnel wandering around the concourses, unable to speak any English, who had no clue as to what to do or what to say to patrons - with tickets upwards to $300," complained Tone Kambeitz, a concertgoer from Sebastopol.
At first, stadium officials suspected the problem might be a break in a city water main. But city Public Utilities Commission spokesman Tony Winnicker ruled that out, saying the likely culprit was the stadium's cooking grease.
"They make a lot of garlic fries at AT&T Park, and if you have a lot of grease going down the drain, it could easily block their internal plumbing and cause a backup throughout the park," Winnicker said.
But Giants spokeswoman Staci Slaughter downplayed the greasy fries theory, saying all the concession grease traps appeared to be functioning properly.
In any event, plumbing crews were being brought in to inspect and clean the ballpark pipes before their next big test Friday night, when the Giants come home for one of the bigger draws of the season - the Oakland A's.
Hole in the wall gang: Talk about an inside job.
The other night, SFPD Officers Magnus Chow and Chris Olson were called to the 1300 block of Taylor Street to take what looked to be a routine burglary report.
The victim told the officers that she had left her apartment at noon and returned about 11 p.m. to find her place ransacked and several items missing.
On the way out, the officers noticed a hallway door propped open, leading down to the basement - where they found a hole in the wall and two guys, ages 19 and 20, living in a crawlspace.
"This wasn't just some sleeping bag deal," said Central Station Capt. Jim Dudley. "They had bedding, dishes, glasses, a television and laptop all hooked up to the building's electricity."
They also had the stolen items from the apartment upstairs, which sent the pair to their new home - in county lockup.
[Via SF Gate]