Starting the day in handcuffs is generally not considered ideal, but for Oscar-nominated actor James Cromwell, it was a good way to spend the morning.
Cromwell, along with a PETA protestor named Jeremy Beckham, was arrested Thursday at the University of Wisconsin after interrupting a Board of Regents meeting.
The two protestors burst into the meeting to protest the university’s policy of using cats as lab animals. According to Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, the pair held signs featuring a large photo of Double Trouble, a lab cat with metal implanted in her head.
“This is not science! This is cruel! Shame on you!” Cromwell admonished the board. Beckham echoed the sentiment, saying, “This is the reality of what happens to cats in labs. Take a look at the photograph. This is the pride of the university here.”
Cromwell and Beckham were unaware that the meeting was being streamed online, a fact that Cromwell considers a bonus, since it garnered more exposure for the protest. You can check out the video here.
“People saw us and heard us, and if we’d known, we would’ve gone up to the cameras, but I think a lot of people got out their phones and took photographs,” he said. “I’m sure it’ll go viral, and that’s why I’m here.”
Both Cromwell and Beckham were arrested by university police and brought to the Dane County jail. They were charged with disorderly conduct and have a court date next week. Cromwell said that they were treated courteously, and that being cuffed is “always fun.”
According to a PETA release, “Thirty cats a year at UW-Madison are starved, deafened and decapitated for brain research that hasn’t done accomplished its goals of improving human hearing. (Warning: That link leads to graphic and heartbreaking images of lab cat Double Trouble.)
However, a spokesman for the school emailed the Journal Sentinel to say that PETA’s claims are false. “Today’s events are just another attempt by these outside activists to get attention,” he said. “They have attacked and distorted this line of research, which has very real benefits for people who are deaf, from every angle, and they are getting no traction with the public.”
The research may benefit humans, but if the images in the PETA link are any indication, these cats are not treated humanely, a sentiment that Cromwell agrees with. “These photographs were very powerful,” he said. “It is something that can be seen that does affect people outside the scientific community and raise their ire, as it should.”
According to PETA, after Double Trouble was no longer useful as a live test subject, she was euthanized and decapitated for brain study. PETA has set up a petition to help other cats like Double Trouble; head over to the site to take action.
Cromwell has been an animal rights activist since his work on the movie “Babe,” when PETA reached out to him to save pigs from slaughter.