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Terrorists with a small “t”

The bullhorn at maximum volume always heralds their arrival, these mini-terrorists who bully my neighborhood under the wide cloak of the 1st Amendment and the thin pretense of defending animals.

Their numbers range from about 10 to 20-something, the members often festively dressed in a hip-gypsy style for a weekend or after-dark outing. What they lack in numbers they make up for in volume and colorful if repetitive obscenities, their response to any who express doubt at their any-means-to-an-end tactics. They appear to be having a grand time.

Their target is a local family, one of whose members works for Los Angeles’ animal control department. Having been ordered by a judge to stay at least 100 feet from the target home after some breakage, trampling and trespass, the “protesters” spend their time trying to loudly convince others in the neighborhood what a bad person the animal control officer is -- professionally, personally and no doubt in past and future lives.

Nobody’s buying it.

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This is one of those neighborhoods with a larger-than-usual share of animal adopters, animal rescuers and other squishy types. You can tell who gives to the Humane Society by the paw-print gift wrap at 2-year-olds’ birthday parties. Most of them also recognize that animal control is trying to cope in a city with too many strays and grossly underfunded animal shelters. Los Angeles is a long way from Pasadena, where everyone coos over the no-kill shelter.

On the topic of these mini-terrorists, however, our neighborhood just a few miles west of downtown has united.

The protesters seem bent, in their joyous rage, on driving a family out of their home -- terrifying their children, breaking their flowerpots and windows, yelling “We know where you live at night!” Then, a few Saturdays ago, someone drove the rest of the block out of theirs. The bullhorns this time were the LAPD’s, ordering residents to leave until the bomb squad arrived.

What we heard was that a caller had warned of something perhaps explosive in the target family’s aging sedan, parked in their driveway. A few hours of yellow-tape exclusion later, the bomb squad declared the incident a hoax.

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Of course, police may never determine the source of the threat. But the next time the protesters showed up, the free-speech tolerance of the neighbors was all used up. We won’t yell or threaten (which seems to be what they want, with their incessant videotaping), but we’re asking the LAPD what we can do to help. Record and report the obscene taunts? Sure. File trespassing and noise complaints? You bet. It’ll at least keep their lawyer busy.

It’s hard to imagine a better casebook on how to achieve the exact opposite of the intended result.

Judy Dugan


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