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Actor James Cromwell arrested during protest at UW Regents meeting

Published On: Feb 07 2013 03:18:29 PM CST   Updated On: Feb 08 2013 07:54:11 AM CST
James Cromwell

Hollywood actor James Cromwell was arrested Thursday morning after interrupting a University of Wisconsin Board of Regents meeting to demand an end to experiments on cats at UW-Madison.

Better known for his roles in films such as "The Green Mile" and "Babe," Cromwell took part instead in a staged protest, shouting concern and carrying graphic blown-up photos of a cat named Double Trouble that PETA says UW conducted cruel and deadly brain experiments on.

In a video released by the PETA of the incident, Cromwell can be heard shouting, "This is torture and it is criminal."

No one at the morning board meeting acknowledged Cromwell or PETA protester Jeremy Beckham, but Regent President Brent Smith told WISC-TV the protest "made an impression" and that other members have received about 100 emails from protestors about the research on cats.

"If people see this and say, 'This is really horrible,' you can do something about this,” said Cromwell, who spent a couple hours in the Dane County Jail.

"(Researchers) get so much grant money for these experiments and that dictates a lot of what happens on this campus, unfortunately," Beckham said. 

PETA filed a lawsuit to obtain the photos of Double Trouble, which the group said shows how UW researchers drilled into, deafened and decapitated the cat.

But UW-Madison researchers said the photos don't tell the whole story.

"I believe this study is very valuable and I believe the cats are well cared for, so I think the benefits outweigh the harms,” said Eric Sandgren, director of UW's Research Animal Resources Center.

The incident is grabbing some national attention.

"If it had been the two of them (PETA protesters) in the room, nobody would have covered this. So you cover it because I'm here, and then that’s great," Cromwell said.

The San Francisco Chronicle and TMZ also reported on the incident, which has generating a lot of buzz on the WISC-TV and Channel 3000 Facebook page.

Cromwell and Beckham face disorderly conduct charges and were coy about whether they'd attend their court appearance next week.

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