The militant underground Animal Liberation Front (ALF) is claiming responsibility for an alleged military-style bombing that occurred at the Bunker Hill Towers Apartments on Figueroa Street, the residence of Los Angeles Animal Services General Manager Guerdon Stuckey.
In a statement on its website dated September 17, the shadowy ALF took credit for the act. The information then appeared in a September 20 e-mail from the unaffiliated, aboveground animal rights group Animal Defense League Los Angeles (ADLLA). The ALF often works by dropping communiqués with legitimate groups. The e-mail stated: "A communiqué received by the Press Office (for the ALF) reads in part: ‘The animal liberation front has taken advice from our Commander in Chief to "smoke terrorists out of their holes." The target was Los Angeles number One terrorist Gordon Stuckey. Military Strength Smoke grenades were detonated on the floor of this animal killers abode. Sleep light … alf." (All typos courtesy ALF.)
"The incident did occur on September 16," confirmed Officer April Harding at the LAPD’s media relations department. "The fire department responded."
Harding revealed that the perpetrators used "a small smoke device," and that the investigation, still in the initial stages, is being overseen by the Anti-Terror Unit of the LAPD’s Major Crimes Division. Stuckey was not home at the time of the attack.
According to Kevin Maiberger, another LAPD spokesman, "There have been vandalism attempts on [Stuckey’s] home in the past." Maiberger revealed that the department has taken protective measures at the Stuckey residence.
But while a security guard contacted at Stuckey’s 456-unit luxury apartment complex admitted that there had been "problems all week," the building’s manager refused to comment.
Contacted for an interview, Stuckey himself refused to speak specifically about the incident, but said, "The police are looking into this issue and that this is an ongoing investigation." He also noted that he isn’t "afraid at all."
He added, "If you let terrorists feel you are afraid, you have been impacted by them, and I will not allow myself to be impacted that way."
This isn’t the first time the ALF has claimed to have acted against LAAS officials. The organization claimed responsibility for an earlier bomb-threat regarding LAAS Commander Dave Diliberto’s car. A September 15 statement on the ALF website reads in part: "The message was left on David’s cell phone stating a bomb had been left in his car, the car paid for with the blood of innocent animals. Consequently, his office, the neighborhood, had to be evacuated."
Along with many aboveground animal advocates, ALF has been campaigning against Stuckey’s controversial appointment since 2003, when it became apparent that Stuckey was a strong choice for LAAS general manager by then-Mayor James Hahn. At that time, ADLLA and its founder Pamelyn Ferdin pointed out that Stuckey’s previous job as director of the Rockville, Maryland, Department of Neighborhood and Community Services required no experience with animals.
As reported by CityBeat’s Bobbi Murray in January 2005, Villaraigosa’s speech to a crowd of cheering supporters included this promise to the animal rights groups: "When I’m mayor of Los Angeles, Gerald Stuckey will not be head of Animal Services."
"Actually he wasn’t lying, because Gerald Stuckey is not the head of animal services," jokes animal activist Charlotte Laws, Ph.D., member of the Greater Valley Glen Council and a longtime advocate for no-kill L.A. shelters
"The department has seen more changes in the last year with Mr. Stuckey than it had several years prior," insists LAAS Public Information Officer, Captain Karen Knipscheer. "He’s changed public relations. He’s said go out, visit schools [and] churches, and talk to people and that’s what we like doing. He’s the one who told us to do that."
Stuckey insists that he has not been advised of any problems Villaraigosa might have with his job performance. "I have not spoken personally with the mayor but I have a good relationship with his high-level staff," he says. "So there is no issue there that I’m aware of." He also claims a "very good professional relationship" with Jim Bickhart, the mayor’s associate director of transportation and the staff member responsible for animal services. "I’m still here," Stuckey says, "so let’s hope that this is an indication that it’s been all ironed out."
But longtime animal advocates stress that the mayor is running out of time. Ferdin warned, "LAAS is corrupt and mismanaged, and the mayor said last year that Stuckey would not be in power. Our animal-rights forces want him out."