[Broward New Times]

For an animal rights activist who once mounted the Oscar Meyer Wienermobile, Nicolas Atwood is feeling awfully shy these days.

A decade ago, a Miami-Dade police officer had to escort a screaming Atwood off the giant hot dog by sliding him down the fiberglass frank. "Meat is murder!" said Atwood, then 24 and wearing a pink pig mask.

Maybe he's so bashful now because he can't control his most recent media exposure: The New York Stock Exchange is suing Atwood.

As part of a years-long campaign to shut down Huntingdon Life Sciences Inc., an international animal-testing contract company, animal rights activists have been targeting its clients, employees, and financial backers. The NYSE is on their list because Huntingdon shares are bought and sold on its online trading board, NYSE Arca. Exchange spokesman Rich Adamonis declined to comment on the lawsuit, as did Huntingdon's U.S. representative.

"This isn't about me," Atwood says. "It's about the movement."

Atwood runs a print and online magazine, Bite Back, that chronicles nearly everything activists are doing worldwide to fight for the rights of animals. Anytime someone spray-paints the windows of a Paris shop that sells foie gras or sets fire to a meat factory in Germany or rescues a guinea pig in Russia, Atwood posts it at In accompanying pictures, ALF is almost always seen spray-painted on a window or the street -- that's short for the Animal Liberation Front, which aims to shut down businesses that harm animals. ALF says it's a nonviolent organization, although it endorses property destruction as well as breaking into facilities to rescue monkeys, mice, cats, dogs, or any other living creatures. Its ongoing "Operation Bite Back" was begun to combat fur research facilities and animal feed suppliers.
He's just a member of the media, Atwood says as he sits down at a rusting metal table in the backyard of the downtown West Palm Beach house he shares with his wife and dog, at 726 Palm St. He deserves the same protection as the mainstream media, he says, which routinely publishes personal information, including home addresses, about news subjects. Atwood has an unlisted phone number, because, he says, he wants to maintain his privacy. His address, however, is a matter of public record with the Palm Beach County Property Appraiser.
Just a few years before he trekked to the top of the hot dog, while a student at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, Atwood became a vegan. Still, he says, he didn't leap into activism.

"Some people have the light-bulb moments. I just kind of had a growing awareness. I always had a sensitivity to animal issues. It just spoke to me emotionally."
Last year, the Sunday Times in London branded Atwood the "mastermind" behind planned violent action against Oxford University staff and students. According to the Times, Atwood posted the names and, in some cases, the home addresses of 40 people who were participating in medical research, calling them "legitimate targets" and urging other activists to set fires, commit burglary, or vandalize the targets' cars.

Atwood says now that there are no masterminds in the animal rights movement. ALF says its members operate autonomously.

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