University of Wisconsin-Madison police arrested Oscar-nominated actor James Cromwell for disorderly conduct after he disrupted Thursday’s UW System Board of Regents meeting to draw media attention to the university’s alleged use of animal cruelty during experiments.
Cromwell, an actor well-known for his role in “Babe,” and People for Ethical Treatment of Animals protestor Jeremy Beckham marched into the Regents’ meeting shouting “Shame on UW!” while carrying large posters picturing one of the cats that underwent experiments in UW-Madison labs, according to a video PETA released to The Daily Cardinal.
PETA’s allegations date back to Sept. 2012 when the organization’s members gathered at Library Mall to protest the university’s alleged use of animal cruelty on nine cats by drilling holes into their skulls and intentionally deafening them.
According to Cromwell, he and Beckham took action because the regents neglected to respond to a letter a PETA protestor sent to the regents Jan. 22, which expressed similar concerns about UW-Madison’s experiment on the cat, Double Trouble.
“The whole point is they don’t want to look at this issue,” said Cromwell, who has been a PETA member since 1994. “I came in because I am a celebrity and a reason for media to take this event seriously.”
UW-Madison Research Animal Resource Center Director Eric Sandgren released a statement Thursday in response to PETA’s protest, calling it “just another attempt by outside activists to draw attention to a cause.”
“[PETA] has attacked and distorted this research—which has very real benefits to people who are deaf—from every angle imaginable,” Sandgren said in a statement.
According to UW System spokesperson David Giroux, there is no item on the regents’ Thursday or Friday agenda relating to PETA’s protest. He said he could not confirm whether the regents will take up the matter at future meetings.
But Cromwell said if the regents fail to address the issue, “we will be back.”
“I understand everyone wants a job, and everybody wants to make a difference, but there really is no excuse for this behavior on the part of human beings toward creatures on the planet,” Cromwell said. “It’s absolutely foul.”