An internationally recognized expert on the animal rights movement says the /*firebombings*/ in /*Santa Cruz*/ are an indication fringe extremists are getting more violent. David Martosko has been studying the movement for eight years and has testified in congressional hearings on the subject. He says the actions in Santa Cruz resemble activity in the United Kingdom that has been going on for years.
"They're resorting to more and more violent and dangerous tactics. It's really just a matter of time before someone on this side of the Atlantic gets killed," said Martosko who works with the Center for Consumer Freedom.
UCSU biomedical researcher David Feldheim attended a rally Monday night on crutches. He was hurt when his home was firebombed Saturday morning and he and his family escaped through a second story window.
"Thank you very much. We've gotten e-mails from friends and family all over the world to express their concerns," said Feldheim.
There is widespread outrage over the attacks. In less than 24 hours, the reward fund for information leading to a conviction of the people responsible has grown from $30,000 to $50,000.
"This $50,000 actually represents the highest reward Santa Cruz Police Department has ever offered in our history. So we think money does provide an inducement for people to come forward," said Zach Friend with the Santa Cruz Police Department.
In a community known for its diverse opinions, the mayor says Santa Cruz is united in condemning the attacks.
"Once you start escalating to the threat of violence or violence because you want to use that to get your point across, you lose all legitimacy and you become nothing more than a thug and a coward," said Santa Cruz Mayor Ryan Coonerty.
Martosko says while the firebombers probably acted on their own, well-funded, outspoken animal rights organizations that spew fiery rhetoric share in the responsibility.
"The above ground guys are careful to keep their noses clean because they have to raise money so they're not making the bombs, but they are making the bombers," said Martosko.
Martosko adds he thinks three to six people were probably involved in Saturday's attacks and again, the reward for information leading to a conviction is up to $50,000.
If you have any information on this case, call the Santa Cruz Police Department at (831) 420-5820.